How to Remove Bleeding Dyes from Clothing


Holly asked: How do I remove dye bleed on a red and white striped shirt?

It’s very frustrating to wash a new shirt only to find the colors have blended during the wash cycle. It can be difficult to return the shirt to its original stripes, but there are times when the loose dye that has bled onto the white stripes can be removed. Try the applications below for the best chance at removing the misplaced dye.

You Will Need:

  • Clorox 2 (color safe bleach)
  • RIT Dye Fixative or
  • Synthrapol (available at art supply stores and online)

Steps to Remove the Bleeding Dye:

  1. Begin by checking the care instructions on the shirt for any cleaning substances that should be avoided.
  2. Fill a bucket of water with Clorox 2.
  3. Place the shirt in the bucket and allow it to soak for several hours. If you are hesitant to use the color-safe bleach, test a small hidden area of the shirt first to ensure it does not discolor the colored sections.
  4. The color safe bleach should remove the loose dye without affecting the other colors.
  5. If the dye that has bled out is not removed, try a special dye remover.
  6. RIT Dye Fixative is designed to bind to loose dyes and reduce color bleeding. It is designed specifically for this purpose and can be found at most drugstores and department stores along with the other RIT dyes. Check the label carefully as RIT also makes a dye remover that will essentially bleach the entire piece. This is NOT the one that you want. Synthrapol is a similar product that is designed to bond to loose dyes and remove them from the fabric. Since they only bond to loose dyes, they should not affect the other colors in the clothing.
  7. For either product, follow the manufacturer’s directions on the packaging for use.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • To avoid color bleeding with future clothing pieces, use Shout Color Catchers when washing multi-colored clothes or any clothes that have colors that may bleed. These sheets are available at any store and are designed to catch any loose dyes that enter the water during the washing cycle.
  • If all else fails, it may be possible to bleach the white areas to remove the color. To do this, mix a small amount of bleach with water and apply to the areas where you wish to remove the color. Use great caution not to get bleach on the colored areas. Wash the shirt immediately to remove any remaining bleach.


  1. Liz says:

    I have several pieces that were damaged by a shirt that bled. I have washed them a couple of times and now have them sitting in soapy water until I can find a solution. Do you think the option above will still work after this long?

  2. Pat says:

    I washed four skirts together (all were cotton) Two skirts were black and white florals (which one skirt had a black cotton lining), one floral tan and green, and a white and blue striped one with a white eyelet cotton lining under the skirt. I washed it in cold water. I have never washed all of these skirts together at the same time. I have washed them all individually with other clothes. Well, one of the florals with the black lining is the critter. The black lining in one of the skirts bled onto all my skirts. Now all the whites in the florals have turned to blue. The tan floral skirt is fine, but the others are not. I did purchase the Clorox 2 and soaked the skirts for several hours and started to wash one of the skirts alone. The blue is not coming out. What should I do? Help!

  3. Kenta says:

    I washed my scarf in with my son’s white t-shirts and the red scarf bleed on all the whites; didn’t know that will happen. So if you have any natural remedies – help please …. I have the clothes sitting in cold water with liquid Sunlight dish soap.

  4. Gayle says:

    A handmade stocking with Santa on it. A red hat got wet and bleed onto some of the stocking. This is a beige background with crewel embroidery all over it. Would love the save this piece. It is a sentimental piece to me. Any ideas?

  5. Joanie says:

    Color safe bleach worked! I washed a tan pair of capris with a t-shirt that bled. I only needed the color-safe bleach, following the instructions above and the dye was removed. Thank you so much.

  6. Andy says:

    I washed a white t-shirt with a red drawing. Dye of the red drawing bleed into the white areas of the same t-shirt. I want to remove unwanted red dye without removing the drawing. Please help.

  7. Heidi says:

    Don’t use Shout Color Catchers! They don’t work! I am on this site because a piece of fabric that I ordered from Japan had a major bleed, even using the Shout Color Catcher. :(

  8. Irene says:

    Are these products found in Kenya? Where can I get them?

  9. Maggie S. says:

    Hi – I want to dye my daughter’s school uniform pants black, but they have an embroidered school emblem…how do I dye the pants black, but the emblem stays gold? Help!

  10. A.T. says:

    The Shout Color Catchers didn’t work for me today. My little girl got a handmade dress with bands of a white and black material, and then bands of a bright red material. The red bled onto the white areas even with the color catchers in the wash with the dress. I’m gonna try the Clorox 2 idea as well as the others, because my little girl never even got to wear the dress.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I have a red and white comforter and the red bled on the white. Help! What I can use to get rid of the red on the white?

  12. Cynthia says:

    “Fill a bucket of water with Clorox 2”? Do you mean add Clorox 2 to a bucket of water? How much water? How much Clorox2?


  13. Summer says:

    Any natural solutions? I borrowed a friend’s black and white striped dress and wanted to clean it before returning it. Now the dress is stained from the black dye!
    Please help! Any other ideas, besides buying solutions?

  14. Vic says:

    I agree that Shout Color Catchers do not work in every circumstance. I have used them in several recent loads of laundry. They seemed to work OK with new clothing in certain colors (bright yellow, green, medium blue). I used two sheets for each load, and washed on cold. However, an entire load of laundry was ruined today because a red and white striped t-shirt bled onto the rest of the clothes. I once again used two Shout Color Catchers. Now I am crossing my fingers that Clorox 2 will work. I already tried soaking in Oxiclean with no luck.

  15. Henry says:

    Clorox 2 is simply a form of Hydrogen Peroxide. Beauty supply stores carry strengths up to 40 volume for hair color removal. 10 volume (3% w/v)Hydrogen Peroxide is normally used as an anti-bacterial disinfectant, is relatively cheap, and can be found in most drug stores. Also used in combination with sodium hydroxide (“Fantastik”) to remove red wine stains from carpet.

  16. Vickie says:

    I had something red bleed on my new Miss Me jeans after I took them out the dryer. I poured vinegar liberally on the stain and used a few drops of Dawn on all the spots. Scrubbed with a toothbrush, then I put it through the rinse cycle in the washer, let it air dry and every stain was gone!!

  17. Kathy says:

    I washed a tan and blue rug together and the blue dye bled onto the tan rug. Is there any way to get the blue out of the tan rug?

  18. Melanie says:

    I have a red rug and a white rug that I washed together and the red dye bled onto the white rug. I just washed the white rug again separately and that removed the dye. I guess the theory here is that if the dye will so easily bleed onto another fabric, it will just as easily bleed off of that fabric as well. Try using a stain-fighting laundry detergent and send the tan rug through the wash cycle twice if needed. I use cold water.

  19. Ann says:

    I was using a Shout Color Catcher and the color still bled in to my white capris. Should I still follow the instructions in your above suggestions?

  20. Melanie says:

    The Shout Color Catcher sheets should not have any effect on the removal of dyes that have already bled. Since your capris are completely white, the article How to Fix Dye Transfer may be more helpful for you (see step 5). Good Luck!

    Source: Shout
    Source: Laundry Care

  21. Zowie says:

    The Clorox bleach pens work great for striped shirts. If the dye bleeds on white, just use the bleach pen. It even removes yellow under-arm stains.

  22. Brandy says:

    For those of you who have tried the Color Catchers and it didn’t work, an old remedy is to use black pepper in the first washing to set the color.

  23. Babs says:

    Washed a new sweater that is deep red and off white striped. Content is 95 percent cotton and 5 percent nylon. Directions: wash inside out cold water. It bled. Did not place in dryer. Hand washed with Clorox 2 in cold water with 6 shout color grabber sheets. Got most out, but still have several areas that need further help. Any suggestions what to do next?

  24. Mel says:

    Thank you for telling me about Clorox 2!! Saved my favorite maternity shirt that was only two weeks old!! It was a printed black and white block patterned polyester see-through sheath sewn on top of a black cotton bottom. When my helper washed it for the first time, the black dye bled unsightly streaks on the sheath. I sprayed DOVE hairspray on all the streaks and dabbed as much of the dye out with a terry cloth rag (trick I learned for pen marks). It helped a bit, but the streaks remained (although less dark). Due to my busy schedule I left it like this for four days until I googled and stumbled across this post. I used the Clorox 2 (only filled to one line on the scoop) and 1/4 cup hot water to dissolve it. I soaked the sheath (only) in this solution and rubbed it gently to agitate and “wash” out the dye…It worked!!! It only took 5-10 min vs. the several hours soaking as recommended in this post. I then rinsed the whole top in COLD water a few times and lay flat to dry. Thanks for saving my top!!!

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