Creating colorfully dyed Easter eggs is a tradition that crosses many cultures around the world. In the United States, we often dye eggs with a simple water-based dye bath that works great until the dye lands on the tablecloth, a shirt or the carpet. Enjoy the fun of Easter egg dyeing and stop worrying about the stains by learning how to remove the stains from your hands, clothes, and carpet.
Remove Dye Stains From Washable Clothes
Easter egg dye is most often simple food coloring and the key to successful stain removal is to treat the stains as soon as possible. These same techniques work if you use natural dyes made from onion skins, beets or other plants to dye eyes.
For washable fabrics, flush the stained area with cold water by holding the fabric directly under a faucet stream running at full force. As soon as possible, work some heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide and Persil contain enough stain-removing enzymes to break apart the stain) or a stain remover like Shout into the stain. Work the product in well with your fingers or a soft brush. Allow the stain remover to work for at least fifteen minutes and then wash the garment as usual following the care label instructions.
If the dye stain remains, do not place the fabric in the dryer. High heat could permanently set the stain. Instead, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite) and warm water. Completely submerge the item and allow it to soak at least two hours or overnight. If the stain is not gone, repeat this step with a fresh solution of oxygen bleach and water. When no stain remains, wash as usual. Oxygen bleach is safe to use on all white and colored fabrics with the exception of silk, wool, and anything trimmed with leather.
Dye Stains on Dry Clean Only Clothes
If the item is labeled as dry clean only, blot the stain with a white cloth or paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible. As soon as possible head to the dryer cleaner and point out and identify the stain.
If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag but be aware that the stain will probably not come out. Dye needs professional treatment.
Remove Food Coloring or Dye From Hands
An ounce of prevention is best, so choose some lightweight rubber or plastic gloves when dyeing. But if the damage is done, the best way to remove the dye from big and little hands is baking soda and a bit of white vinegar.
Dampen hands with water and sprinkle with baking soda. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to create some foaming action then rub your hands together. The baking soda provides a gentle abrasive action to lift the dye. Rinse well with warm water and repeat if needed. This method is non-toxic and safe for all ages.
Remove Dye Stains From Carpets and Upholstery
As with stains on washable fabrics, try your best to treat the stain on carpets as soon as possible.
Use a paper towel to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Blot from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading the stain any larger.
When no more dye transfers to the paper towel, mix just one-fourth teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with one cup of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel into the solution and blot the stain from the outside edges toward the center. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth until no dye transfers to the cloth.
Next, dip a clean white cloth into plain water and blot to rinse the solution completely out of the carpet. If you don't rinse, the dish detergent can actually attract soil. Allow the carpet to dry completely away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift carpet fibers.
If color remains, try a bit of nonsudsing ammonia mixed with water (one tablespoon per cup of cool water). Test the solution on the carpet in a hidden spot first because ammonia can remove the color from some carpets. Blot the stained area with the ammonia solution. Finish by blotting with plain water to rinse the area. Allow to air dry.
The same cleaning techniques that are used on carpet can be used for upholstery. The key is to never over-saturate the fabric with the cleaning solution. Too much moisture can cause problems with mold and mildew growth in the furniture stuffing.
If the upholstery is vintage or silk, you will need more stain removal tips and should call a professional.