How to Get Hair Dye Stains Out of 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.

If the garment is labeled dry clean only, 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.

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.

Brown, Black, or Blue Dye on Clothes

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

Fill a sink with cool water and add oxygen-based bleach (brand names include 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. If the stain is gone, launder as usual. If slight traces remain, repeat the process with a fresh oxygen bleach/water solution.

If the stain remains after a couple of rounds of soaking and the garment is white, mix a solution of one-gallon water and 1/4 cup chlorine bleach. Allow the garment to soak for 15 minutes—no longer. Prolonged soaking can weaken the fabric. Rinse well with plenty of cool, fresh water.

If the stain remains after following either of these treatments, the dye cannot be removed.

Red Dye on Clothes

Again, treat the hair dye stain as soon as possible. Begin by mixing a solution of 1 quart of water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap and 1 tablespoon plain ammonia in a plastic or glass container. Submerge the stained area and allow the stain to soak for 15 minutes. Remove the fabric from the solution and rub from the back to loosen the dye from fabric. Soak an additional 15 minutes. Rinse well before transferring to the next cleaning solution.

In a separate glass or plastic container, mix 1-quart warm water and 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar. Allow the stained area to soak for 30 minutes. Launder garment as usual.

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.

Removing Dye from Upholstery and Carpet

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

  • Begin by using a spoon or dull knife to lift any hair dye possible from the surface of the upholstery or carpet. Try not to mash the dye any deeper into fibers.
  • In a small non-metal bowl, mix a solution of two cups cool water, one tablespoon distilled white vinegar and one tablespoon of dishwashing soap.
  • Using a clean white cloth, sponge or cotton swab (depending on how large 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.
  • 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.
  • If the stain is not budging, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply to the stained area and blot away with a clean white paper towel. Repeat until no more dye is transferred to the paper towel.
  • When the stain is removed, 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.

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. Blot away with a clean, dry white paper towel and then sponge with a clean white cloth dipped in plain fresh water. Allow the upholstery or carpet to air dry.