Removing Color Bleed Stains

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 3, 2012)


One of the most common laundry problems that a person can face is color bleed. This most commonly happens when a red sock or other piece of clothing is left in with the rest of the wash. When that red-colored cloth gets wet, it has a tendency to transfer (or bleed) its color onto the rest of the clothes in the wash.

With dark-colored clothes this is probably not that noticeable. However, the problem actually comes when the clothing that has gotten stained is either white or lightly colored. Instead of throwing away the clothes, or only saving those clothes for the days when you have really dirty chores, take a little extra time to properly clean those clothes. Here's how.

  1. Separate. When you first notice that you have a color bleed stain, go through all the clothes and find that one (hopefully) piece of clothing that is causing the problem. At the same time, also separate all the other clothes. Quite often not all of your clothes are going to be stained, so set aside the clothes that are stained from the ones that aren't.
  2. Agitate. Place the stained clothes back into the washing machine and fill with enough cold water to cover the clothes. Start the machine so that you agitate the clothes for a few minutes.
  3. Bleach. After the water has been agitating the clothes for a few minutes, stop the machine and add a little bleach. If you are cleaning whites, add no more than eight ounces of chlorine bleach to the water. If you don't like using chlorine bleach, use vinegar instead. Just make sure that you use double the white vinegar, as you would bleach. If the clothes are colored, though, do not use chlorine bleach, but rather non-chlorine bleach.
  4. Soak. After you have added the bleach, turn the machine back on and allow the machine to agitate for another five minutes. Turn the machine off and allow the clothes to soak for at least ten minutes, but no more than fifteen.
  5. Wash full cycle. After allowing the clothes to soak, wash them as you normally would. Be sure that you are using the correct amount of detergent or soap and that you let the machine run through a complete cycle.
  6. Check. When the washing machine has completed its cycle and before you put the clothes into the dryer, check to make sure that the stains have been removed. If they have not, or have only been removed on some of the clothing then you should repeat steps one through five as many times as necessary until the stain has been removed.

Just remember that bleed stains don't have to be the end of your clothes. By simply taking a little extra time and effort you will be able to save your favorite shirt. (Now, whether your significant other thinks that this is a good thing or not is another matter.)

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


Replacing Disc Brake Pads

Replacing disc brakes and pads is an easy automotive repair job. While it can be a little intimidating to try and replace ...

Discover More

Burst Cleaning

Very few people like to do a lot of cleaning all at one stretch. Instead of doing it in the traditional manner, why not ...

Discover More

Checking for Loose Drive Belts

The drive belt is perhaps one of the simplest and most important items that you can find in your engine. If you don't ...

Discover More

Tough Cleaning Jobs Require Brawny! Brawny paper towels provide the versatility you need: the strength for demanding jobs and the softness to clean up your child's messy face. This 24-roll pack of pick-a-size sheets can handle just about every cleaning task in your home. Check out Brawny 24-Pack Giant Paper Towels today!

More Cleaning Tips

Washing Black Clothes

You would think that washing black clothes would be a fairly simple prospect. After all, it's only logical that dirt or ...

Discover More

Removing a Tomato Stain

Did you get a tomato stain on your shirt at last night's dinner? With a few easy steps, you can get your shirt to look as ...

Discover More

Removing Blood Stains from Bedding

How many times have you had to run into the kids room due to someone screaming in pain? Getting into the room, you find ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 7?

2015-11-13 07:36:04


Karen, I must be a dim-bulb; that answer has been staring me in the face all this time! If it works for you, a quilter, I'm convinced. After this I'll use Color Catcher. Can you tell me who puts it out?

2015-11-12 16:58:37


I have a yellow, white and black dress. I washed it separately in cold water by hand. The black bled on the yellow and white parts of the dress. How can I get the black of the yellow and white?

2015-10-26 09:07:25


My son's home hockey team hockey jersey is red and white. I washed the jersey separately in cold water on delicate cycle. The red bled into the white. How can I get the white white again? His jersey is now red and Pink.

2015-06-24 09:06:45


I have a micro fiber comforter that is red, light grey and black. I washed it in the washer and when it came out the red had bled into the grey in a few areas. How is the safest way to get that out?

2014-08-12 21:25:22


I bought a brand new outfit and decided to hand wash it. It's composed of Ivory, black, and beige wide stripes. However, the colors bled onto itself and the garment is ruined. I've tried using Carbona color run remover but no luck. Please help!

2014-07-30 11:27:35

Elesa Davis

How do I remove stains from dark clothing on my nails? I bought some new items yesterday and just from trying on the clothing my nails are stained. I do not want to remove with polish remover as just had a manicure. Soap and water will not remove. Even after an item has been dry cleaned it still stains my nails.

2014-04-09 08:02:57


Running the clothes through another wash would be fine and dandy if you've got your own washer; but for me it would never work. I, in an apartment complex, use the laundry facilities, which means I must take what I've got. I can't stop or start the washer, or decide the water level. Suggestions? Thank you very much! (-:

2014-04-08 13:31:03


help !! a red sock bled onto my daughter's high school white jerseys's. I have tried bleach, oxyclean and vinegar and cannot get the Jersey to look anything but a pale pink!!!

2012-09-03 05:35:10


There's a product on the market called "Color Catchers" than you can put into the washing machine with clothes you suspect might bleed. They will absorb any loose color in the water which prevents it from attaching to other garments.
We quilters know to use them when we first wash our newly made quilts.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.