Red Dyes on Light Colored Fabrics in Laundry: Your Questions

Advice from Dr. Laundry
Q.

I made the mistake of washing a new red shirt with my other shirts with light colors. The red colored shirt bled and the light colored shirts have red stains all over. Could you help me get the stains off?

A.

I probably don’t have much good news for you. New dark colors are notorious for bleeding for a few washes and should always be washed with similar dark colors. That’s why I always recommend sorting at least whites, lights and darks to avoid the problem in the future.

Depending on how extensive the red spots are and the type of fibers (cotton, poly/cotton, etc.) of the remaining shirts, I would try the following:

To have a better chance at red dye removal you will need to kick it up a notch on the bleach scale hopefully to liquid bleach like Clorox® Regular-Bleach₂ with CLOROMAX®. So we need to know if the lighter colored items can stand to be bleached.

Also remember that washing in hotter water will SLOWLY remove additional dye over time; this will usually be barely perceptible wash to wash.