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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Dye Bleeding

By Dr. Laundry March 26, 2007

Q: I have a child’s t-shirt with a background that used to be white. The design has grass green, a little red and royal blue, and a little sun with yellow in it. Somehow the background/white part is now pink. Is there a way to get the white back?? Or can the t-shirt be dyed? Any ideas will be appreciated…the t-shirt cannot be replaced, so buying another one is not an option.

A: Thanks for writing and sorry to hear about the problem with the t-shirt. It sounds like there was dye-transfer or bleeding on the shirt when you washed it. I am not totally clear of the exact problem based on your description; however, if the shirt is bleachable and the design is NOT affected by bleach (Do the Bleachability Test on my blog or clorox.com first), then you might want to try the bleach presoak, followed by a HOT detergent + Clorox Bleach wash.

If the pink is in spots rather than uniform across the shirt, I would try Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel™. Rub a small amount into each area and then wash with detergent in the hottest water recommended on the care label.

If not bleachable, then your dying approach probably is your next best option. Just make sure the color won’t affect the design or you might be frustrated with all the effort applied and the not-so-great result achieved—if the dye colors the design, it might make it look “dirty.”

Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but try these suggestions or provide me some more details and I’ll see what other options I can develop for you.