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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Altering the Color of a Yellow Dress

By Dr. Laundry February 25, 2011

Q. I recently purchased a yellow dress that I would like to wear for my wedding. The dress is currently a lime-yellow green, mostly yellow, but ideally I would like it to be white, off-white or just lighter yellow. The tag says it’s 100% polyester (like a satin look and feel) and dry clean only. Do you think I could soak it in a bleach bath?

A. I wish I could offer you a solution for how to alter the color of your dress, but I am limited by the fiber content. Since the dress is 100% polyester, it will be very difficult to remove the color, and a bleach soak will likely have no effect. Dyes for polyester are generally insoluble, so once they are incorporated into the fiber they are very difficult to remove or de-color. As a result, polyester is extremely colorfast and a home remedy is unlikely to alter the color.

Another potential problem is the “dry clean only” label—not knowing what the dress/fabric looks like, I am guessing that something in the construction of the dress requires dry cleaning to prevent water spotting. I would check with your dry-cleaner for a referral to a place that dyes shoe and see if they also offer a treatment to remove color from polyester. I would also ask them to show you examples or provide you with references of other customers who had this done before you proceed, especially if the treatment is expensive.