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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Dye from Lights and Whites

By Dr. Laundry March 22, 2011

Q: I experienced a nightmare last night! I washed a load of laundry, light colors and whites, and a black glove accidentally got thrown into the wash. Well, now I have light gray to almost black dye on just about every piece of clothing. Will Clorox® remove these stains and not harm the fabrics or the colors of the fabrics?

A: Dye transfers can be a nightmare, but you should be able to restore the bleachable items with a bleach soaking solution. Start by figuring out which items are safely bleachable. First, check the care labels and be sure to avoid bleaching wool, silk mohair, spandex and leather. For the colored items, check for colorfastness to bleach with this simple bleachability test: dilute two teaspoons of Clorox® Regular-Bleach in ¾ cup water. Apply a drop of this solution to a hidden part of each item like a hem, cuff, collar or inside seam. Wait one minute and then blot dry. If there is no color change, that means the item can be safely bleached. For the items that passed the bleach test, try soaking them in a solution of ¼ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach diluted in one gallon cool water for up to five minutes. Rinse the garments thoroughly, air dry and check for success! It is important to keep items out of the dryer so the heat does not set the dye. If a small amount of the color persists, then repeat the bleach soak again. If the bleach soak leaves the gray and black color unchanged, then you may need to try RIT® color remover.