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Removing Dye Stains From Vinyl

Have a dye stain on a piece of vinyl? Never fear. Learn how to remove dye stains from vinyl fabrics including table cloths, boat seats, and other vinyl items.

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How do I get red dye out of vinyl?


Great question!  Here’s some good news: vinyl fabrics (even colored ones) can generally be safely treated with a Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach and water solution, so you have a pretty good chance of success.  Even so, you should still test the item for colorfastness to bleach just to make sure.  To do that, add 2 teaspoons Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a drop of the solution to a hidden part of the vinyl item.  Wait 1 minute, then rinse and blot dry—no color change means that the item can be safely bleached. Since vinyl is not the most common material used for textiles, it’s hard for me to know exactly what treatment to recommend.  So here are some different possibilities for you to consider.

If your item is a vinyl coated flannel table cloth, it can be machine washed using a gentle cycle in a front loading washer with laundry detergent and ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach added to the bleach dispenser.  After washing, hang the tablecloth to air dry using pants hangers with plastic clips (not metal).  Note that the tablecloth will be dripping wet when the cycle is complete, so make sure you have a good place to hang it where drips are OK (like over the bathtub).

If the item can’t be machine washed, you can try soaking it in a bleach and water solution.  First, add ¼ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to 1 gallon cool water, and then fully submerge the item in the bleach solution.  Wait 5 minutes, then rinse the item thoroughly and let it air dry.  This method would be useful for vinyl coated lunch boxes. You could also sponge a little of the bleach solution onto the stain (say if you have a vinyl raincoat with a care label that says do not machine wash or a vinyl boat cushion with a cover that can’t be removed) and then rinse it after 5 minutes.

What type of dye caused the stain, and how concentrated the stain is will also factor in to how easy it is to get the red stain off. If a treatment lightens the stain a little, then you may be able to repeat it for complete success.  I hope this information is helpful—feel free to send me more details about the vinyl item, Thanks for writing!

–Dr. Laundry

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