How to Remove Dye Stains From Upholstery in 4 Simple Steps

cleaning upholstery with an oxygen based bleach solution

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 9 - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-10

In one minute, you are dying your white t-shirt a new shade, and the next, some of the dye has made its way to your furniture. If dye is on your fabric chair or upholstered couch, there is no need to fret. Oxygen-based bleach and some water should take the stain right out.

Read on for full instructions on removing dye transfer stains from fabric and upholstery.

Stain Type Dye-based
Detergent Type Oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold

When to Call a Professional

Although you should be able to remove your stain using the above methods, you may want to visit a professional cleaner for specialized advice or to consult on a particularly tough stain. When treating dye transfer stains on vintage or silk upholstered items, always visit a professional cleaner specializing in delicate fabrics.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 clean white cloth

Materials

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bottle oxygen-based bleach
  • 1 bottle isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol (for leather upholstery)
  • 1 bottle leather conditioner
  • 1 bottle dish soap

Instructions

How to Remove Dye Transfer Stains From Upholstery

When cleaning your stained upholstery, be careful not to oversaturate the cushions because excess moisture can cause mildew and mold problems in the filling.

  1. Mix Cleaning Solution With Oxygen-Based Bleach

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cool water in a small container. Follow the package directions for how much product to use per gallon of water. You can also use a combination of dish soap, vinegar, and water if you do not have bleach.

    oxygen bleach solution to clean off upholstery

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Blot Onto Upholstery

    Dip a clean white cloth in the oxygen bleach solution and blot the stain. Keep moving to a clean area of the fabric as the dye is transferred to the cleaning cloth. Be careful not to let the dirtied parts of the cloth touch other parts of the upholstery—you don't want to accidentally create a new stain while cleaning an existing stain.

    cleaning upholstery with an oxygen based bleach solution

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Air-Dry

    Air-dry the solution away from direct heat and sunlight. If the upholstery stain persists, repeat the method with a fresh oxygen bleach and water solution each time.

    air drying upholstery

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. For Leather, Apply Rubbing Alcohol

    If the dye transfer has occurred on a leather couch, put a bit of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) on a clean white cloth and work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center. Continue this motion and replace the cloth as it becomes saturated. Allow the area to dry completely, and finish by using a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and supple.

    using rubbing alcohol on leather upholstery

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Additional Tips for Handling Dye Transfer Stains

  • Commercial stain removers could also work for handling dye stains. Simply treat the stain according to the directions, and repeat if the stain persists.
  • Be sure to use a white cloth or paper towel when dealing with dye stains—you don't want the dye to mix with the cleaning cloth's dye and cause a larger mess.
  • If the stain isn't lifting, try bringing in hydrogen peroxide. This acts as a color-safe bleach that works on all types of fabric. Dab the stain with a cotton swab and let dry.
  • If an initial round of at-home stain removal doesn't effectively remove the stain, repeat the steps as often as you see fit. You can also try applying a mix of equal parts baking soda and white vinegar to your stained item and letting it sit for a few hours.