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Color Run: How to Remove Dye Stains from Clothes

Dye stains don’t have to ruin your clothes! If colour has run in the wash, read on to find out how to remove the resulting dye stains with ease.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Example of color dye, read on to learn how to remove dye stains from clothes

You try so hard to avoid it whenever you do your laundry, yet it somehow seems to inevitably happen from time to time: either you’ve accidentally dropped a random red sock in your white laundry basket, or you find that your favorite pair of jeans didn’t exactly mind sharing its color with your cream colored sweater.

When colors run in the wash, it’s important to know how to remove dye run from clothes so you won’t be stuck with that pink shirt or baby blue underwear forever.

Don’t worry if color has run in the wash! Just remember to avoid letting clothes dry before you have attempted to remove the dye, as heat can set the stain further.

How to Remove Dye Stains From Clothes

You’ve just removed your laundry from the washing machine, ready to pop it in the dryer – when you notice the dye bleeding. Don’t panic – if you act quickly, you should be able to get rid of the color run with very little hassle.

Identify the source of the color bleeding, put it aside, and throw the affected clothes right back into your washing machine – if you haven’t accidentally dried your laundry, chances are, the colors aren’t set yet and a repeat wash will be able to lift the excess dye.

Dye Stain Removal: What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Color Run Remover

If you’re opting for bleach to get rid of the unwanted color, it is crucial to choose a non-chlorine, oxygen-based bleach which is color-safe to add to your regular liquid or powder detergent when you are rewashing your clothes to get rid of the color run in the wash.

Take care when handling bleach; always follow the safety guidelines listed on the product and wear protective gloves to avoid contact with skin.

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Alternatively, simply add a cup of white vinegar to your laundry load and wash your laundry again as usual, using very hot water if suitable for the fabric – this time hopefully without any accidents.

How to Handle Stubborn Stains

If your clothing has been heavily stained, your best bet is to soak the item in a solution of water and bleach suitable for the fabric, before attempting to wash it again.

Follow the instructions for the bleach to make sure you won’t damage your fabric, and let it soak for up to ten hours. Repeat if necessary, before throwing the clothing in the laundry again.

You can also attempt to treat the stain with lemon juice – it is much gentler on the fabric (and the environment) than bleach. Commercial color run removers are also an option; they are usually used to let the garment soak in, removing the excess color at the same time. Always make sure to purchase one suitable for your type of fabric.

  • Re-wash stained clothes as soon as possible!

  • Alongside your regular detergent (we recommend Breeze), try using an oxygen-based bleach in the wash.

  • If dye stains are particularly stubborn, soak clothing before re-washing in the machine.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Originally published