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How do you get dye out of a white shirt?


How do you get dye out of a white shirt? The dye is pink.


This is such a great question—it sounds like maybe you had dye transfer from one item to another, probably during the wash cycle.  There are a couple of remedies you can try to get the pink color off your shirt.  First, check the care label to confirm that it is 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend.  If it is, then you should be able to restore it using a bleach soaking solution.  Note that you should also make sure the shirt doesn’t include any spandex (also called Lycra or Elastane), even a small percentage, since that fiber type should never be washed with bleach.

If your shirt is OK for bleaching, mix up a bleach soaking solution using 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular Bleach2 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 pink 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 you can usually find at craft, drug, and hardware stores.  Be sure to follow the package instructions carefully.  This product can also be a good choice for 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.  Thanks for writing, and let me know how it turns out!

–Dr. Laundry

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