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How to remove red dye out of white clothes?

By Dr. Laundry June 28, 2016

Q: How to remove red dye out of white clothes? A: For the white items that picked up the red dye, first check each care label to identify the fiber content of each item so you know which ones are bleachable.  You should always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex.  The first four are less commonly machine washed, but spandex (also called Elastane or Lycra) is sometimes included in garments and even small percentages shouldn’t be bleached.  For those fabrics that can be bleached, you should be able to restore them!  Start by adding 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to one gallon of water in a plastic dishpan.  Fully submerge items in the bleach and water solution for up to 5 minutes.  You may notice the color coming off immediately, or it may take the full 5 minutes (but don’t let any item soak for longer than 5 minutes).  Since you may have a lot of items, it’s probably better to do them one at a time, transferring each item after 5 minutes in the bleach and water solution to a second dishpan that you can immediately rinse each item in. When you are finished with all the items, you can run them through a regular wash cycle with a little detergent.  Hopefully the unwanted color will be gone, but if it is lighter, then you can repeat the treatment for eventual success.   For white items that include spandex that you can’t bleach, you can try RIT Color Remover, which is available at craft and fabric stores, as well as some drug and hardware stores.  When using RIT for this purpose, the trick is to mix up the solution so it is just strong enough to remove the unwanted color.  You’ll be working with your hands in the solution so be sure to wear gloves.  Start with a very weak solution by just using only a small amount of the powder, not the whole package, and dissolve it into a gallon of water in a plastic dish pan.  Submerge one item (all of it) into the solution and check to see if the unwanted color comes off.  Hopefully the color will come off right away and you can quickly rinse the shirt very thoroughly in a little warm water before repeating with the other items.   Please let me know if you have any other questions.  Good luck, and thanks for writing!