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How Do I Remove Dye That's Run Into a Garment?

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 19 Aug 2021 | comments*Discuss
How Do I Remove Dye That's Run Into A Garment?

Q.If colour from the edging of a garment has run and has dyed the rest of the garment, how do you remove the dye?

(Mrs Kim Reid, 11 September 2008)


Unfortunately, dye stains are very difficult to remove and in some cases, stain removal may not be possible. Garments are often designed with contrasting colour trims or piping's and while attractive, can pose a headache in the laundry. Although the garment may be labelled as “washable”, the colours from the edges will often “run” into the rest of the fabric, causing the garment to end up with streaks of colour from the trims.

Occasionally, this can be resolved by washing the garment again using a heavy-duty detergent and very warm or hot water. This is because the excess dye that came off the trim may not be firmly deposited in the new areas either and there is some hope that a repeat washing will cause the excess dye particles to be lifted off and rinsed away.

Sometimes bleach is recommended for dye stains but use this with extreme caution. Remember, bleach may not only change the colour of the trim but also the appearance of the rest of the garment as well – and bleaching damage to coloured garments is irreversible. There are certain bleaches which are specially formulated as being “safe for fabric” so these may be worth investigating. Pre-treat the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and rinse thoroughly, before following the instructions for the bleaching solution. It is a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous corner first. If the stain has not been removed after 15 minutes then it is unlikely that further bleaching will make any difference and may actually weaken the fabric fibres.

A safer approach might be to look for a colour dye remover and to use this in conjunction with washing soda to try and remove the excess dye stain. Soak the garment in a solution of washing soda dissolved in cold water – this will help to avoid setting the colour. Then wash the garment again, using the colour run dye reversal product.

At the end of the day, the best solution may be to simply avoid buying clothes with extreme colour contrasts on the same garment. Or if such a garment is already in the wardrobe, to always use a cold wash or even a hand wash to tackle soiling in specific areas, rather than taking the risk of washing the entire garment.

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Colour has run in my daughters new nurses uniform it a dark blue and white trim how can I get out
Tilly - 19-Aug-21 @ 1:31 PM
I washed my off white knitwear dress with my jean top now my whole dress is baby blue what do i do
Amy - 14-Sep-20 @ 10:49 AM
I have washed a red pinny in with my sons new grey jean and his black and white tshirt i put a colour run sheet in with the wash but it didnt make any difference the jeans have gone pink and the white in the yshirt has got pink please help. M
M - 1-Jul-20 @ 8:43 PM
Help! I’ve washed a mustard quilt cover with a white sheet & it’s turned my sheets yellow! The sheet has a light brown pattern on it though & I don’t want that to get ruined.
Gemma armstrong - 26-Apr-20 @ 12:21 AM
I washed a pair of navy tracksuit bottoms with a white stripe down the sides, didn’t realise a pink sock was inside and has turned white stripe pink, any advise would be much appreciated please x
An - 27-Mar-19 @ 3:18 PM
Hello, Washed my daughters favourite bath towel, which is predominantly white with black writing, and the black has run into the white ! It was very expensive, and they don't sell them anymore, please help! Now have a grey dingy looking towel, many thanks.
Tan - 28-Jan-18 @ 10:04 AM
My hubby washed a 3 tone pink wool jumper with my granddaughters black outfit and it’s gone grey on the paler colours I washed it straight away is there a product I can buy for woollen colour run thanx in advance
Chell - 4-Jan-18 @ 5:13 AM
I dropped wood varnish on my navy-blue jogger bottoms.Please can you tell me if is it possible to remove the varnish without removing thenavy dye, ?
bugsduck44 - 4-May-17 @ 12:26 PM
I got wood varnish on my navy jogger bottoms. Is it possible to remove the varnish without loosening the navy dye?
bugsduck44 - 4-May-17 @ 12:19 PM
@nu, you could either use a bit of bleach (if they are cotton) and re-wash the whites, or go to your local supermarket and buy a specific product designed to remove accidentally dyed whites. I think to be ion the safe side, I'd do the latter.
Jen - 15-Sep-15 @ 11:37 AM
i have just put four designer tahirts in the wash together a long with two normal white shirts ,one tahirts was pink and it's has stained everything how can I get this colour out
nu - 14-Sep-15 @ 9:43 AM
I washed a black ans white woollen jacket with a brown coat and it has turned the white a beige colour can this be fixed thank you
Tinkerbell - 29-Aug-15 @ 12:13 AM
@milo - I saw a fab navy and white top the other day and thought it would look lovely with a pair of jeans. However, I was stopped short of buying it as I remembered all the other nightmares I have had when buying two-tone coloured clothes especially when there is white involved. You really can't ever avoid colour run and it's the white that ends up looking miserable. Either try it on a hot wash if the green can take it, or if you don't mind the green fading slightly use a bit of bleach, or a Vanish colour run product, otherwise you might have to put it down to experience like I have. Good luck.
Nina - 10-Apr-15 @ 11:59 AM
Green/white top washed with black sock! !!! Now white areas are grey help!!!!!!
milo - 8-Apr-15 @ 12:39 PM
@meela - apart from the information in the article it is quite difficult when colours run as if you bleach it you will also bleach the red and it could make it worse. Perhaps it may be a case of in future to avoid buying clothes with extreme colour contrasts on the same garment as this can always be a problem when washing.
StainExpert - 27-Jan-15 @ 2:22 PM
pls help me, i need to remove color dye that has run thru my garment. its my traditional punjabi. the red had ruin all the white of it. what can i use. the fabric is cotton and gorgette.
meela - 26-Jan-15 @ 3:59 PM
Ive got hair dye on my blue jumper it might be cotton or wool don't know but the dye has been on it for a bit ,it happened when i was dying hair anyone got any tips how i can get it out ,its dried up as i recall it has been there a while
lillielou - 10-Aug-14 @ 9:50 PM
I have a tartan kilt made of 100 percent wool. The red colour in the kilt has run into the white square of the kilt pattern. Is there anyway I can remove the red colour from the white areas. Hope you can help.
Flora - 16-Jul-14 @ 5:49 PM
Please help!!!! I'm devastated! Just picked up wedding dress from bridal shop. It was in black fabric dress bag. It was put in car for couple of hours; it's boling in car; 30++ degrees! Got it home, out of bag, and there are huge due stains on back of dress, Dress is made of one layer lace and delicate beading and second layer satin. The stains have gone through both layers and are BIG!!! Please tell me these stains can be removed? Will it damage dress?? Please help, it's 4 weeks till my wedding and now I have no dress!!
Seb - 1-Aug-13 @ 5:16 PM
The colour runs all over my clothes and also an American cloth tablecloth from my red leather bag.Nothing seems to remove it.Is there anything I can do to the bag to stop the colour coming out?
Caro - 31-Aug-12 @ 2:19 PM
My brown leather man bag has rubbed on my beige trousers and and made dirty marks. What's the best way to remove them, I have tried normal commercial stain remover that you spray on clothes before washing them but to no effect. I guess this is the same as removing polish stains? many thanks
Trevor Jones - 3-Jun-11 @ 8:51 AM
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