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Removing Stains From Polyester

By Dr. Laundry April 7, 2015

Q:  I have a light blue run on a white polyester shirt from washing a color with a white. How do I get it out?

 

A: That’s lucky that your shirt is white polyester—that’s a really easy fiber type to get fugitive dye off of.  I would still double check the care label and make sure that the shirt doesn’t also include a small percentage of spandex (also called Lycra or Elastane) in addition to the polyester.  Spandex, even a small percentage, should never be washed with Clorox® Regular-Bleach (or any products with the sodium hypochlorite bleach active).  If your shirt is OK for bleaching, mix up a bleach soaking solution using 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach per gallon of water.  Fully submerge the shirt in the bleach solution for up to 5 minutes.  You may notice the color coming off immediately, or it may take the full 5 minutes (but don’t let the shirt soak for longer than 5 minutes).  Next, drain the soaking solution and thoroughly rinse the shirt.  Or, you can also just run it through a regular wash cycle with a little detergent.  Hopefully the blue color will be gone, but if it is lighter, then you can repeat the soak for eventual success.  However, if the bleach soak leaves the color unchanged then you can try RIT color remover, which can usually be found at craft, drug, and hardware stores.  Be sure to follow the package instructions carefully.  This product can also be a good choice for white items that contain spandex.

Note that until the color is out, it’s important to let the shirt air dry in between treatments so you don’t heat-set any remaining dye in a hot dryer.  I hope this is helpful, and thanks for writing.