How to Remove Hair Dye Stains from Clothes, Carpet, or Upholstery

How to remove hair dye stains

The Spruce

Hair dye can accomplish great things on your head, but not on your clothes. If you have a messy hairdresser or you are a do-it-yourself dripper, learning how to get hair dye stains out of clothes and carpets is a must.

Different hair dye colors require slightly different treatments. The key to successful removal is to treat the stain as quickly as possible and keep the stain removal supplies on hand.

Stain Type  Dye-based
Detergent Type High-performing laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid
Water Temperature Cold

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

  • Working time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 8 hours to overnight

Before You Begin

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, take it in as quickly as possible and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. 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; however, it is unlikely that it can be removed by using the kit at home.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soaking container

How to Remove Brown, Black, or Blue Hair Dye From Clothes

  1. Spot-treat With Liquid Laundry Detergent

    When you discover a drip of dye, as soon as possible, rub heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent with stain-lifting enzymes (Tide or Persil) into the stain using a soft-bristled brush and rinse well.

  2. Soak in Oxygen-based Bleach

    Fill a sink, basin, or bucket with cool water and add oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite) following package directions. Submerge the garment and allow it to soak at least eight hours or overnight.

  3. Repeat Soak If Necessary

    If the stain is gone, launder as usual. If slight traces remain, repeat the process with a fresh oxygen bleach/water solution.

  4. Chlorine Bleach Soak for White Fabrics

    If the stain remains after a couple of rounds of soaking and the garment is white, mix a solution of one gallon of water and one-fourth cup of chlorine bleach. Soak for 15 minutes. Rinse well with plenty of clean water.

  5. Warning

    Do not soak the fabric in chlorine bleach for longer than 15 minutes. Prolonged soaking can weaken the fabric.

How to Remove Red Hair Dye From Clothes

Treat the hair dye stain as soon as possible, the older the stain, the harder it is to remove. Red dye has a different composition and requires a different remedy than other dye colors.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Ammonia
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Water

Tools

  • Two soaking containers
  • Washing machine
  1. Soak in Dishwashing Liquid and Ammonia Solution

    Begin by mixing a solution of one quart of water, one-half teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap, and one tablespoon household ammonia in a plastic or glass container. Submerge the stained area and allow the stain to soak for 15 minutes.

  2. Scrub the Dye Stain and Soak Again

    Remove the fabric from the solution and rub the stained area with your fingers to loosen the dye from the fabric. Soak an additional 15 minutes. Rinse well before transferring to the next cleaning solution.

  3. Soak in White Vinegar and Water Solution

    In a separate glass or plastic container, mix one-quart warm water and 1/4-cup distilled white vinegar. Allow the stained area to soak for 30 minutes. Launder garment as usual. If dye is still present, do not place in a hot dryer. Move to the next step.

  4. Soak in Oxygen-based Bleach and Water Solution

If the stain remains, then fill a sink with cool water and add oxygen-based bleach following package directions. Submerge the garment and allow it to soak at least eight hours or overnight. Repeat if needed and launder as usual.

Removing Hair Dye from Upholstery and Carpet

Removing hair dye stains from upholstery and carpet that cannot be soaked for hours or tossed in a washer takes a bit more patience and care. Always treat the stain as soon as possible and be careful not to spread the stain.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent solution)
  • White paper towels

Tools

  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Small non-metal bowl
  • White cloth
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Cotton swab
  1. Lift Away Any Solids From Upholstery or Carpet

    Begin by using a spoon or dull knife to lift any hair dye solids from the surface of the upholstery or carpet. Do not rub because it will push the dye deeper into fibers.

  2. Treat With Cleaning Solution

    In a small non-metal bowl, mix a solution of two cups cool water, one tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Using a clean white cloth, sponge or cotton swab (depending on the size of the stain), work this solution into the stain. Start at the outer edges and move toward the center. This will keep the stain from spreading larger and larger. Use as little of the solution as possible to prevent over-wetting the carpet or upholstery.

  3. Blot With Paper Towel and Repeat as Necessary

    Blot the stain with a white paper towel moving to a clean area as the dye is transferred from the fabric to the paper towel. Repeat as needed. You may need to leave the solution on the stain for 10 or 15 minutes before blotting, especially if the stain is older.

  4. Try Rubbing Alcohol, If Necessary

    If the stain is not budging, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply it to the stained area and then blot it away with a clean white paper towel. Repeat until no more dye is transferred to the paper towel.

  5. Remove Traces of Dye on White Carpet

    To remove traces of hair dye on white carpet or upholstery, follow the previous steps and then dip a cotton swab in a three percent solution of hydrogen peroxide. Blot the stained area and let the hydrogen peroxide sit for two or three minutes.

  6. Final Rinse

When the stain is removed from the carpet or upholstery, sponge the stained area with a fresh, clean white cloth and plain cool water. Blot away the water with clean white paper towels and allow to air-dry.

If the stain remains on clothing, carpet or upholstery after following any of these treatments, the dye cannot be removed.