How To Remove Dye Stains

These steps also work for hair dye and watercolor paint.

Our first step with dye stains on washables is to soak repeatedly in rubbing alcohol or Oxi-Clean, replacing the liquid with a fresh batch as the dye runs.  Dyes are notoriously difficult to remove, sometimes even when very fresh.  This means you may need to soak for hours, or days, and this can require large quantities of the various solutions.

Besides these two solutions, you can try the following:
  • Mix 1 quart water, 1 tsp liquid detergent and 1 tbsp white vinegar.  If the fabric is washable, soak in this solution for 30 minutes, then wash as usual and allow to air dry.  If the fabric is not washable, then drip this solution onto the spot with an eyedropper and let sit for 30 minutes. Flush with water.
  • If stain remains, mix 1 quart water, 1 tsp liquid detergent and 1 tbsp ammonia.  Like the above step, soak it if it's washable.  If it's not, use the eyedropper method.  Rinse and allow to air dry.
  • If stain remains and fabric is washable, white fabrics may be treated with a dye remover purchased in the dyes section of a supermarket. Bleaches are an option if used with care (see our stain removal 101 for the various types).