How to Remove Hair Dye Stains From Clothes & Carpet

How to Remove Hair Dye Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Xiaojie Liu

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 8 hrs, 45 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Hair dye can sometimes get on your clothes or carpet by accident, and getting to a stain as fast as possible is the best way to get it out. The longer you wait, the harder it is to remove this type of stain. Different dye colors require slightly different treatments. The good news is that you probably have most of these products already in your house, so you can treat the stain as soon as you see it. You might need to repeat the steps more than once to get the spot completely out, but whatever you do, don't put clothing that still has a hair dye stain on it in the dryer as the heat from the dryer can permanently set the stain. Never rub or scrub the stain either, as it will push it deeper into the fibers of the material. Read on to learn how to remove hair dye stains.

Stain Type  Dye-based
Detergent Type High-performing laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle type Varies depending on the type of fabric
1:30

Click Play to Learn How to Easily Remove Hair Dye Stains From Clothes and Fabrics

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 dry cleaner. It is unlikely that this stain can be removed by using the home dry cleaning kit, as hair dye stains can be hard to remove from dry-clean-only materials. It's best to leave it to the professionals.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Brown, Black, or Blue Hair Dye (Clothes)

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soaking basin
  • Measuring cup

Red Hair Dye (Clothes)

  • 2 Soaking containers
  • Measuring cup
  • Washing machine

Upholstery and Carpet

  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Measuring cup
  • Small non-metal bowl
  • White cloth
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Cotton swab

Materials

Brown, Black, or Blue Hair Dye (Clothes)

  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Chlorine bleach

Red Hair Dye (Clothes)

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

Upholstery and Carpet

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

Instructions

materials for removing hair dye stains
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

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

Treat the hair dye stain as soon as possible, the older the stain, the harder it is to remove.

  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.

    spot cleaning hair dye stains with liquid detergent
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  2. Soak in Oxygen-based Bleach

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

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

    submerging the stained item in an oxygen bleach solution
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  3. Chlorine Bleach Soak for White Fabrics

    If the stain remains after a couple of rounds of soaking and the garment is white, go this route.

    • 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.

    Warning

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

    soaking the affected garment in a chlorine bleach solution
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Remove Red Hair Dye From Clothes

How to Remove Red Hair Dye Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Xiaojie Liu

Red dye has a different composition and requires a different remedy than other dye colors.

  1. Soak in Dishwashing Liquid and Ammonia Solution

    • Mix 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.

    Warning

    Never mix ammonia with any soap or detergent that has chlorine bleach in it as the combination produces a toxic gas.

    Soaking the stain in an ammonia and dish soap solution

    The Spruce

  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.
    Working the solution in with your fingers

    The Spruce

  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.

    Soaking the garment in a vinegar solution

    The Spruce

  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.

    Soaking overnight in an oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce

Removing Hair Dye from Upholstery and Carpet

a hair dye-stained bathroom rug and stain removal supplies
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

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.

materials for removing hair dye stains from rugs
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  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.

    Warning

    Do not rub because it will push the dye deeper into fibers.

    using a dull knife to scrape away excess hair dye
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  2. Treat With Cleaning Solution

    • Mix a solution of two cups cool water, one tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, in a small non-metal bowl.
    • Work this solution into the stain, using a clean white cloth, sponge, or cotton swab (depending on the size of the stain). Start at the outer edges and move toward the center. This will keep the stain from spreading larger and larger.

    Tip

    Use as little of the solution as possible to prevent over-wetting the carpet or upholstery.

    using a sponge on a stained bathroom rug
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  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.

    blotting a bathroom rug with a paper towel
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  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.

    using a qtip on a bathroom rug
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  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.

    Using hydrogen peroxide to remove traces of dye

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  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.

    letting the bathroom rug air dry after stain removal
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

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

Additional Tips for Handling Hair Dye Stains

Hair dye can splatter in the most unlikely places, so what if it hits the bathroom floor, countertop, sink, or the tub? Luckily, there are ways you can get that stain out.

Catch that stain while it is still fresh, and you can simply wipe it up with a sponge that has water and liquid dishwashing soap on it, and rinse. But, if it's older, try this method: mix one tablespoon of baking soda and warm water and gently rub the paste on the stain. Leave it for one hour, and then use a damp sponge or cloth to remove the paste (and the stain).

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dangers of Mixing Bleach with Cleaners. Washington State Department of Health.