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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Dye Transfer from White Pants

By Dr. Laundry March 25, 2010

Q. I own a HE washing machine. Recently I washed some white cotton pants with some black pants. (on warm/cool) I didn’t think the black clothing would run bit they did. My bad…How do I get my white pants “white” again? They haven’t been dried yet.

A. Thanks for your question and sorry about the pants. Great that you didn’t dry the pants as that would have made your job harder.
Since it’s a white cotton pants and I’m assuming not a uniform but blotchy dye pattern, I would try the following:


  • Try a quick liquid bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach in gallon of cool water for 5 minutes) then wash immediately in the hot water using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. Check for success after the wash cycle and before dryer drying. It might require multiple treatments to get the desired result.

  • If more drastic action is needed, you may have to consider using something like Rit Color Remover.


Don’t forget to do a better job of sorting and NEVER wash darks (especially black) with any whites. Almost guaranteed dye bleeding will occur.
Good luck. Let me know how it turns out and if you have any further questions.
Dr Laundry