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Trouble with Dye Transfer

By Dr. Laundry December 8, 2014

Q : My wife washed all of our whites with khaki clothes. Now all the whites are a light tan color and not white white anymore. We have a HE machine and I filled the bleach dispenser up to the max fill line and Tide Plus in the detergent dispenser. 

 After the wash, the whites still are light tan. Can you help us out?

A: Usually for dye transfer, I recommend soaking white bleachable items* in a solution of 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach per gallon of cool water for 5 minutes before rinsing and air drying.  With a front loading washer, items tumble through the wash solution—they don’t actually soak unless your washer has a “soak” cycle that facilitates this.  Also, the bleach solution in your washer may not be as concentrated as it would be with the soak, particularly if the bleach dispenser only holds 1/3 of a cup.  So doing the bleach soak in a dishpan may be a pain, but it typically gives better results for removing dye transfer than just running an item through a regular wash cycle.  Whether or not you should try again with the bleach soaking solution depends on if the items lightened at all with the bleach wash.  If they lightened a little, then additional bleach treatments should do the trick.  But if not, (or if you do try the bleach soak and it just doesn’t work) then you could try RIT Color Remover.  This product utilizes a completely different bleaching chemistry, and is usually available at craft and fabric stores as well as hardware stores.  Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

 

–Dr. Laundry

 

*always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex!