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Removing hair dye stains from a colored t-shirt

By Dr. Laundry August 23, 2013

I had my hair dyed recently and some got on my green graphic tee. How can I remove this stain?


Hair dye is quite a problem because it is so concentrated, and since your shirt is colored, you are limited to treating the stain with products that contain hydrogen peroxide, like liquid Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster, which works very well on concentrated stains when used as a pretreater.

To use it on your shirt, apply a little of the product directly to the stain and wait 5 minutes before washing in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and more Clorox2®. Air dry and check for success — because hair dye is pretty concentrated, it’s likely that you will need to repeat the treatment for complete removal — keeping the shirt out of a hot dryer will increase your chances of getting the stain all the way out. Note that you don’t want full-strength product to stay on the shirt too long, and it should never be allowed to dry on the fabric.

You may still be able to use the bleach soak if the green dye used to color the shirt can be safely bleached. You can check first with a bleachability test: add 2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach (or 1 ½ teaspoons Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach) to ¼ cup water and apply a drop of this solution to a hidden part of the shirt; wait 1 minute and then blot dry; no color change means you can safely bleach the shirt.

If the shirt passes the bleachability test, then prepare the bleach soaking solution, and fully submerge the shirt, weighting it down with a dishwasher-safe dinner plate if necessary. Allow the shirt to soak for up to 5 minutes and then wash it in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach (or ½ cup new Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach). Air dry and check for success — as mentioned above, it’s important to keep the shirt out of a hot dryer until the stain is all the way out. It’s also important to note that rather than go with a stronger bleach solution, it’s better to repeat the soak.