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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Hair Dye

By Dr. Laundry September 15, 2009

Q. I just went to the hairdresser wearing a bright white 100% cotton shirt, and brown hair dye from the previous client got on the back of my shirt. The label says only non-chlorine bleach and warm water wash. I’m not sure what to use, and thought you might have some good advice. This is a fairly new shirt and one of my summer favorites.

A. If this is a cotton shirt, I’m sure it can be bleached. One of my pet peeves is that most manufacturers under-label their items for legal reasons regardless of testing results. You can always test the shirt to see if it’s safe to use liquid bleach.

I recommend consumers do the quick Bleachability Test (2 tsp. Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. Now you have a couple of choices: I would consider using Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel (apply; rub in with scrubber tip; wait 3–5 minutes) before adding to the washer. Or,you could also do a quick liquid bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in gallon of cool water for 5 minutes), then wash immediately in the hot water using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1.