Removing dye stains from a clothing item that bled its dye on a load of laundry is straightforward and will work if you take quick action due to the cleaning power of oxygen bleach. It eliminates stains or, in this case, the dye's chemical bond on the fabric when oxygen is released and mixed with water. Oxygen bleach can be used on all washable white or colored fabrics but never on silk, leather, or wool.
Follow these steps to remove fabric dye stains using a washing machine and performing a deep soak.
Before You Begin
Most importantly, don't confuse oxygen bleach with chlorine bleach. They are completely different products. Chlorine bleach will remove desired colors and damage fabrics.
If trying to decide between liquid or powdered oxygen bleach, both work equally well. However, you might get better results using a powdered formula instead of a liquid form because the powdered form is stable longer. The liquid form begins to degrade the moment it gets bottled. Even unopened, most liquid oxygen bleach only has a shelf life of 6 months. Meanwhile, powdered bleach can last several years.
A set stain will be harder to get out than a fresh one. Skip right to performing a soak on the stained item (instructions below) to start lifting a set-in dye stain. Avoid drying items with color bleeding in a hot dryer. Heat sets stains.
If you plan to wash a dry-clean-only item, do a colorfast test. Wet a cotton swab, and rub it across an inside seam or hem. If dye appears on the cotton swab, the item can bleed and cause dye stains on your other clothing.
|How to Remove Dye Stains From Clothes|
|Detergent||Oxygen-based bleach, regular detergent|
|Water Temperature||Varies by fabric and stain|
|Cycle Type||Varies by fabric and stain|
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Sink or washtub
- Oxygen bleach, preferably powdered
- Laundry detergent
How to Remove Dye Stains From Clothing
Check the Entire Load for Stains
Find the bleeding culprit, and pull it out of the washer. Set it aside for washing later with similar colors. Carefully check each remaining piece of laundry for discoloration or stains. Any pieces without signs of unwanted color can go into the dryer or on a clothesline.
Rewash the Affected Clothes
Confirm that the item that bled color is out of the wash load. Rewash all the stained clothes using oxygen bleach (brands include OxiClean, Nellie's Oxygen Brightener, and Oxo Brite) in addition to your regular laundry detergent.
Inspect the Clothes Again
After rewashing, recheck each piece of clothing for traces of dye. Any items that still have unwanted color must be soaked and rewashed. Clothes that came out with the undesired color completely gone can go in the dryer. Or, to play it safe, air-dry until you're sure they're back to normal.
How to Soak Dye-Stained Clothing
Soak the Stained Items
Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water in a washtub or sink, following the product instructions. Submerge the stained items, and allow them to soak for at least eight hours.
Check and Soak Again if Needed
Recheck the clothes for unwanted dye. If the stains are gone, wash the items as usual. If the stains remain, mix a fresh batch of the oxygen bleach and water solution, and soak for another eight hours. Then, check again, and wash or repeat the soaking process as needed. You may need to do so several times, but it's the best way to get rid of the dye without damaging the fabric.
Additional Tips for Handling Dye Stains
Set-in stains may take multiple soaks. But, if the dye stain is still not gone after several times trying these stain removal techniques, consider getting a commercial color run remover product for the affected garment or rewash the item separately using a commercial color catcher sheet.