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)

A.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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