Close up of fabric covered in tie-dye.

How to remove dye stains from clothes

The home fabric dye that gives your jeans a new lease of life isn’t quite as welcome on the rest of your clothes. The good news is that accidentally sticking your sleeve into a tub full of fabric dye doesn’t mean you have to live with your new look – it’s possible to remove dye stains from clothes. Take a look at the handy fabric dye removal tips below to find out how.


How to get dye out of clothing

Before we get on to explaining how to get dye out of clothes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Read your labels. Not just the care label on the garment, but the label on the cleaning product you choose to use for the removal process too. 
  • Test first! It’s also good to check that the method you’re about to use is a safe bet – test it on a hidden part of your clothing (like the inside hem) before treating the whole stain, especially if it’s an eye-catching place.


How to remove dye stains from clothes that are white

Even though fabric dye stains on white clothes tend to look worse than stains on any other shade of clothing, they can actually be more straightforward to remove. This is because you’re more likely to be able to use bleach, which can remove dye from clothes very easily. 

You have a few different methods to choose from, depending on the nature of the garment and the fabric:

  1. Non-chlorine bleach. When you need to remove dye stains from clothes, bleach can be your best friend – at least when it comes to white, durable clothing. Remember to look for the bleach symbol on the garment’s care label before using it, as more delicate fabrics might not react well to it.

    If the care label confirms that the item can be bleached, you have two options. The first is to pop a cup of bleach into the detergent tray of your washing machine and simply wash the stained clothing as usual. Your second option is to dilute the bleach with cold water, fill up a tub, and let your stained clothes soak for a couple of hours. Then you can wash your clothes on the usual setting.

    Remember: Bleach is a powerful cleaning product! Read the information on the product label for dosing and safety guidelines.
  2. OMO Ultimate Liquid. Heat water until it’s at the hottest temperature your fabric can withstand, then pour it into a basin and add OMO Ultimate powder or liquid – check the packaging for dosage guidelines. Leave your stained clothes to soak for up to three hours and then wash as normal in the washing machine, still using the hottest temperature recommended for your garment. Repeat this method until the stain disappears.

If you’re wondering how to get dye out of clothing that has been tie-dyed, you might want to try the one of the methods above. Soaking is a good way to dissolve dye stains that are spread out over wide areas.


How to remove dye stains from clothes that are dark, or coloured

If you’re removing fabric dye from dark or coloured clothing, you can potentially try one of the options above, but you want to be careful about using bleach – check the product label to see if it’s suitable for your garment. Otherwise, you run the risk of removing more colour from the fabric than you originally intended!

If bleach isn’t suitable, our colourfastness test can tell you if soaking with OMO for a long period of time is a viable option. If not, you may want to try using these products to remove dye from clothes:

  • Solvents. If your stained item isn’t colour fast, a good option may be rubbing alcohol or a similar solvent. Use a white cloth to apply the solvent, then dab at the stain. The dye should start to come off very soon. Continue until the stain is almost gone and then rinse the garment in warm water. Finally, wash it in the machine according to the instructions on the care label. If the stain is still there, repeat the process.
  • Stain removers. There are commercial stain removal products around that have been created for the sole purpose of removing dye stains from clothes. Keep an eye out for one that’s suitable for coloured items. Again, read the instructions on the product label for the best results.

Remember: No matter which stain removal method you use, it’s important to let the item dry naturally after washing, as the heat from a tumble dryer can help to set the dye – and you might not be able to spot lingering dye stains while item is still wet.  


Got another laundry quandary to solve? For more tips on how to remove tricky stains, check out the rest of our stain removal tips

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