Cleaning Dye Stains from Fabric

by Karen Bates
(last updated July 6, 2020)

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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