When working with permanent hair dye and even food coloring which contains dye, accidental staining is always a concern. Dye stains on your skin are easy to remove as skin is typically oily and does not hold pigment well. Stains on fabric are very different, and knowing how to get hair color out of clothes or carpet fibers is trickier.
Removing color from your hair is simple with items like a clarifying shampoo, but removing dye from colored fabrics requires an effective cleaning solution to dissolve or lift the pigment from the fabric without breaking down the color structure of the material.
Many commercial items work as an effective stain remover, including plenty specifically designed to remove hair dye; however, there are effective hair dye stain removal methods within your own home.
Several cleaning agents remove stains, some less aggressive than others, but this article covers numerous easy ways to get hair color stains out of your fabric.
- How to Remove Hair Color from Clothes
- Removing Dyes from White Fabrics
- Removing Red Dye Stains from Fabric
- Cautions When Working with Bleach and Ammonia
- Preventing Hair Dye from Staining Your Clothes
How to Remove Hair Color from Clothes
When you spot a stain on your clothing, begin working to remove the stain to prevent it from sitting. The longer you leave the stain on the fabric, the harder it becomes to remove.
When treating a hair dye stain, avoid washing and drying your clothes. Once you apply heat to the stain through drying, the stain becomes nearly impossible to remove.
Pretreat Fabric to Get Hair Color Out of Clothing
Whether you need a way to get food coloring out of clothes or hair color, it’s wise to pretreat your fabric first using a stain-lifting heavy-duty liquid detergent. Pour enough to cover the stain and work the laundry detergent into the stain using a soft-bristled brush.
Rinse the fabric well to remove the dye that the detergent lifted. If the liquid laundry detergent works well to remove the stain, repeat if needed until the stain is gone.
How to get Hair Color Out of Clothes using Oxygen-based Bleach
If pretreating hasn’t worked to remove your stain, fill a bucket or sink with cool water, oxygen-based bleach or all-fabric bleach, following the package directions.
Allow your stained article of clothing to soak in the mixture overnight or for a minimum of eight hours. If the stain is gone, launder as usual, but if the stain remains, repeat this process using fresh water and more oxygen-based bleach.
Note: Oxygen-based bleach is gentler than chlorine bleach, designed to remove stains on all fabrics without creating a bleach stain. It is safe for use on most materials, white or colored, but we recommend patch testing as some fabric dye may not be stable and may fade.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Dye Stains from Fabric
To help remove dye from fabric, you need a cleaning agent with strong oxidation properties that won’t lift the color of your dyed fabrics. Applying a diluted hydrogen peroxide mixture helps in lifting the pigment from your clothing safely, whether you need to remove tie dye from clothes after washing or you dripped hair color on your favorite shirt.
Stores sell commercial hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 3%, which is safe enough to use on your clothes. Use a cotton ball dampened with hydrogen peroxide and dab the stain to saturate the area.
Rub the stain with a soft brush to work the pigment out. Rinse your clothes to remove the stain and any peroxide on the fabric; repeat if the stain remains.
Get Hair Color Out of Clothing with Acetone
Acetone is an active ingredient in nail polish remover and is a powerful solvent used to dissolve stains and other kinds of buildup. Saturate or soak the stained area in nail polish remover overnight.
The following day, rinse the stain to remove the nail polish remover and wash your clothing in the washing machine. Do not dry your clothing until you’re sure the stain is gone. If the stain remains after washing, repeat the process of soaking in nail polish remover.
Remove Hair Dye from Clothing with Hair Spray
While hair spray may have numerous other uses, its alcohol ingredients work well to remove stains – it’s perfect for getting ink out of fabric. As most hair spray formulas are the same, there’s no need to splurge on an expensive can when trying to remove hair dye from your clothes.
Rinse out as much dye as possible before placing your article of clothing on a table with a paper towel underneath the stained area. Apply the hair spray to the stain enough to wet the stained area. Wipe at the stain with a paper towel or a clean cloth and reapply the hair spray to the stain.
Leave the hair spray overnight. The paper towel under the stain will absorb the stain after being saturated with the hair spray. Repeat the process until it’s clear the stain is gone, then rinse with water and wash your fabric.
Clean Dye Stains with Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is not only perfect to get hair dye off your skin but it also works for your clothes. Once you notice dye on your clothes, do your best to remove it by scraping away the excess and rinsing it with water. The higher the water pressure, the better the dye comes loose from the fabric.
Fill a bowl or container with rubbing alcohol and allow the stain to soak in it for two minutes. Using a paper towel, blot the stain to remove as much of the pigment as possible. Let your clothes soak in a fresh bowl of rubbing alcohol overnight for additional stain removal.
The following day, rinse your clothes before washing as usual. Repeat the process if the stain remains, and avoid drying until you’re sure the entire stain is gone.
Try to get red food dye off countertops and clothes by dabbing at the stain rather than soaking if immersion is impractical. Shift to clean parts of a cloth to ensure you don’t transfer even more dye onto unwanted surfaces.
Removing Dyes from White Fabrics
Removing pigment and dyes from white fabric is both more challenging and more straightforward. Because white fabrics have no existing pigment, any color that seeps into the fabric penetrates deeper and binds to the material easier.
However, because there is no existing color to worry about, you’re free to use more aggressive cleaners like chlorine bleach to remove stubborn stains.
Removing Hair Dye from Whites with Chlorine Bleach
If less aggressive stain removal methods haven’t worked for removing dye from your white fabric, soaking your fabric in a mixture of chlorine bleach and water is effective at removing stains.
Soak your fabric for a maximum of 15 minutes to remove the stain. After soaking, rinse the fabric well before laundering as usual.
Using Baking Soda to Remove Stains
Baking soda is a cleaning agent with another use – lifting and dissolving stains from fabric. Applying baking soda to a damp stain and allowing it to sit will make removing stains easy. Try baking soda as the way to get latex paint out of fabric, too.
After rinsing your clothes and the stained areas with water, apply a few tablespoons of baking soda to the stain, or enough to cover the stain, and leave it on the stain for at least eight hours or overnight.
Remove the baking soda, then rinse and wash your clothes to remove any lifted pigment. Repeat this process if the stain remains.
Removing Red Dye Stains from Fabric
Red dyes, and colors that use red as a base, are notoriously hard to remove. Red pigments penetrate deeper into fabric fibers, especially lighter colors or fabrics that contain no coloring.
How to Get Hair Color Out of Clothes Using Ammonia
If pretreating through scrubbing with detergent and rinsing with water does not get hair color out of clothing, soaking your stained fabric in a solution of dishwashing liquid and ammonia is an effective option for stain removal.
Create a solution of water, household ammonia, and dish soap in a non-metal container. Soak the stained area for 15 minutes to remove the stain. Rinse the stained area well after soaking.
Removing Red Stains with Vinegar
If the hair color stain persists after scrubbing, an alternative solution for stain removal involves the dissolving nature of white vinegar.
Combine warm water with vinegar in a container or your sink, soak the stained area or fabric for 30 minutes, then rinse well after soaking. Try this remedy for removing lipstick from clothes, too. Vinegar has multiple cleaning uses.
Cautions When Working with Bleach and Ammonia
On their own, bleach and ammonia are powerful household cleaners that should be used with care and never together. When creating solutions with diluted bleach, we recommend wearing gloves when soaking or submerging your clothes.
With ammonia, gloves are recommended and only used in a well-ventilated room to avoid breathing in the chemical.
If you use bleach to remove hair color from clothes, and switch to a stain removal method using ammonia, use a new container. Combining ammonia and bleach creates a toxic gas known as chloramine and may even cause a small explosion.
Preventing Hair Dye from Staining Your Clothes
When dyeing your hair, take a few precautionary steps to minimize the risk of your dye staining or transferring onto your clothes. When working with dyes, it’s essential to wear gloves to avoid staining or irritating your hands with dye or developer.
Rubbing olive oil on your neck, ears, and possibly around your hairline helps keep the dye from staining your skin and lowers the chance of your clothing rubbing against those areas and coming away stained in the process.
After dyeing your hair, ensure you rinse and wash correctly according to your dye instructions; this prevents bleeding or transfer during the night while sleeping.
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