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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Transferred Dye

By Dr. Laundry February 16, 2010

Q. I am writing this from the UAE. Last time I put my color clothes together for washing, unfortunately one item got a stain (blue). Can you recommend a remedy?

A. Not quite sure from your description whether the clothes that were made blue were white or colored. This would make a difference since with white items, I would recommend using a Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 soak (1/4 cup liquid bleach/gallon of cool water; soak 5–10 minutes then wash in hot water with detergent and liquid bleach), followed by air drying since you may have to repeat the process to get all the color removed.

But if they are colored, it is very difficult (perhaps impossible) to remove the stain without also removing some of the other dye(s). Anything you use in this case should be pretested on a hidden seam (apply, let set for 2–3 minutes, rinse and air dry) to determine how much dye damage is likely to occur and if that is acceptable for you.

  • You might try a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution soak (1:1 in cool water for 10–15 minutes; then wash in hot water using detergent; air dry as you probably will have to repeat this process)
  • Sometimes ammonia can be used (again make a mixture 1:1:1 ammonia:dishwashing detergent (like Dawn):water and either spray or soak the effective area; then wash in hot water with detergent and air dry as you probably will have to repeat the process)
  • As a last resort, you may use a dye remover or stripper. Here in the States, a popular brand is Rit. These products are designed to remove dyes, so definitely pretest to make sure the other colors are not too affected.