Cleaning Dye Stains from Fabric

by Karen Bates
(last updated December 9, 2013)


There are various ways that dye can end up on fabrics in your home. A brand new red shirt might be washed with a load of whites, dye might spill onto fabric, or you might sit on a light-colored sofa while wearing a dark colored wash of jeans. Whatever the cause, these dye stains might make you worry that your fabrics can never return to their original color.

Although dye stains can be tricky to remove, there are some things you can try to get rid of them. When dealing with dye stains, remember that the sooner you clean the stain, the better. If you give the dye too much time to set in, removal will become a lot more difficult. Also, if you wash fabric with a dye stain, be sure that the stain is gone completely before you put the item in the dyer. Once it goes through the dryer, the stain will be set in and won't be removable.

If dye ends up staining fabric in your home, here are some tips to help you get it out:

  • If dye gets on fabric that is not washable, start by carefully dabbing the area with a damp sponge. Find a cleaner or stain remover that is meant for the type of fabric you are cleaning, and apply to the stain, following the directions carefully.
  • With washable fabric that has been stained, try soaking the item in warm water with a little detergent and ammonia added. After waiting 20-30 minutes, remove the item and rinse it out. If the stain is still there after this process, use rubbing alcohol or vinegar to attempt stain removal.
  • If colors have transferred from one item to another in the washing machine, one good idea is to try a commercial color run removing product. A product like Shout Color Catcher can help take out the dye. Washing your stained item with a product like Oxy Clean can also be quite effective.
  • Another way to save clothes that have been stained in the wash is to remove the bleeding item and rewash everything else, this time adding vinegar or bleach to the load. It is important to remember to do this right away while the clothes are still wet. Do not dry the clothes in the dryer first, as this will permanently set the stain.

Prevention is the safest bet that fabric won't fall victim to dye stains. For example, wash new dark-wash pants before wearing them and sitting on furniture. Sort your laundry to prevent dye running in the wash. Consider using washable slip covers on your nice furniture.

Author Bio

Karen Bates

An English student who enjoys writing and art, Karen has had her poetry published in her university's literary journal and has several novels in the works. ...


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What is nine more than 4?

2016-08-18 14:47:11


What about removing the color transfer if the clothes were taken from the washer and the color was seen right away. The items were air dried but never put in heat in a dryer? Do you think it will come out?

2016-05-26 09:58:11


Hello, Frances. I've got a suggestion. Try Carbona Color-Run Remover. I've used it several times when I was in a hurry and forgot to make sure I'd sorted my laundry completely. It works perfectly on washable white & light-colored clothes. You can find It in the laundry section. I'd suggest you get it at Walmart; it won't cost as much as at a regular supermarket. I pray this helps you! 😀 God bless you richly.

2016-05-26 03:56:47


I have a Suede Carpenters pouch and its yellowish brown and it has stained my pail trouser, I need to remove the stain please

2015-08-24 13:35:45


How to get dye out of white linen

2015-08-03 19:02:01


too get die out your covers

2015-05-25 17:37:20


I have a white tea Shir!
Shirt gone pink in the washing with a red track pants how can I bring it back to white it was an expensive one need you help .

2015-05-11 15:10:04


I spilled purple RIT dye on the white table cloth. I dabbed the white table cloth with water and dish soap, then with rubbing alcohol. This seemed to take up most of the wet dye, and loosen the color. I threw it in the washer machine ASAP and am now waiting to see if I fixed the problem. I think I have though

2015-04-23 16:22:16


I've been trying for two hours to get red/pink out of my boyfriends shirts and I'm freaking dead when he noticed his favourite shirts are no longer white

2015-01-03 11:24:54


I wore a cream color 95%rayon and 5 %spandex little shirt. Got chilled and put a black sweater on. The under arms are all black now.

2014-08-28 20:47:54


I used one of those color catchers and foolishly washed a black shirt with white shorts, thinking I was safe. The black stained my shorts in many places...didn't notice till I took it out of the dryer. Won't do that again!

2013-12-17 15:51:06


Put a Shout Color Catcher sheet in the washer as a preventive measure instead of after the fact. They work wonders! I won't be caught without them.

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