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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Red Dye

By Dr. Laundry March 2, 2010

Q. I had red color run from a pair of slacks onto a pink stretchy short top I wear under my suits. I tried immediately soaking the top in soapy water overnight, but that did not remove any of the color.

A. It’s very good that you didn’t dry the top and tried the sudsy soak. I would try a couple of things here:


  • You didn’t indicate the fiber composition of the top or whether the red color run was all over or in spots. Since the sudsy soak failed, it sounds like you need to kick it up a notch. I would try an oxygen bleach like our Clorox2® Stain Fighter & Color Booster. First, do a quick Bleachability Test ( apply a spot of Clorox2 to an inside seam, wait 2-3 minutes, blot dry and check for color change). I would consider a 1/2 to 1 hour presoak in the Clorox2 (see label for instructions) before washing in the warmest water recommended on the care label with detergent and Clorox2. Check for success before drying as you may need to do more than one treatment.

  • If the red color is localized, try pre-treating with either the Clorox2 or a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide : water. Again, do a quick Bleachability Test before applying. After treatment, do the warm water wash as mentioned above.