How to Remove Dye Stains from Clothing


Melissa asked: How do I remove a leather stain from a white, polyester shirt? A brown leather belt left a rub line on a white polyester shirt. I’ve tried everything to remove it, but it’s still there. Help!

Leather is treated with dyes to give it the desired color. When these dyes transfer to clothing they are considered “loose dye” stains. These loose dyes, or dyes that are on the surface of the fibers, can be removed with a few products that are readily available. The most common is bleach, which is often harsh on the fabric as well. Below are two products that will safely and effectively remove the stains from washable fabrics.

You Will Need:

  • Rit Dye Remover (for white clothing)
  • Rit Dye Fixative (for colored clothing)
  • Water
  • Soft brush
  • Soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Dye Stains:

  1. Mix the dye remover/fixative with water to form a paste.
  2. Spread the paste over the stain and allow it to set for a few minutes.
  3. Scrub the area with a soft cloth or soft brush.
  4. When the stain is removed, wash as usual.
  5. Allow the piece to air dry to ensure all the stains are removed. Placing the piece in the dryer will set the remaining stains making them impossible to remove.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For white clothing, the stained area can be soaked in a bleach/water mixture.
  • Fresh stains may be removed with a quality stain remover and some elbow grease. Apply the stain remover and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Scrub the area with a brush or soft cloth and then wash as normal.
  • Other stain removers such as OxyClean may also help in removing the stains.
  • Leather dye can be difficult to remove and may take several repeated attempts to remove it completely.


  1. Bohni says:

    I had a multicolored cotton shirt washed with a linen dress and polyester/silk blend night gown. All were washed on the delicate cycle in cold water, but somehow the indigo blue in the multicolored shirt was not colorfast, and bled over the linen’s light pinks, greens and blues and was even worse on the night gown. Will I have to soak both in the fixative? And, do they have to be soaked separately?

  2. Ben says:

    Wouldn’t dye fixative make the stain permanent?

  3. Angie says:

    OxyClean doesn’t help.

  4. Emma says:

    Hi. I have a white cotton bag that has a brown leather label on the outside. When I tried to wash the false tan stain from the bag, the leather ran and left an awful stain around the label. I can no longer use the bag as it’s an eyesore. Can anyone suggest something that will help get rid of the stain? I’ve tried normal stain remover that you put in the washing machine but that didn’t work, although it did get rid of the false tan marks. Thank you.

  5. Anaa says:

    I have one of those Ralph L sneakers; they are white with leather details. My mom washed them and now they have stains. :( I’d like to know what product can fix this and if you know a similar product just like the one you suggest, but one that I can find in Brazil… Thanks.

  6. Tanya says:

    Does anyone have a suggestion for removing dye that has transfered from clothing to my cloth upholstery? My daughter got at new pair of pants for Valentine’s Day, and the color transferred from the pants to my very nice cloth ottoman.

  7. India says:

    Hi I have a pair of soft leather shorts and they managed to get covered in fake tan, as well as spilt RTD drinks, along with some black marks that I’m not actually sure what they are; maybe some kind of grease or something. Any ideas of how I can get this out? I have soaked them in Oxyclean, but it didn’t really work. Thanks in advance.

  8. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Dye Transfer from Leather. For the grease stains, this is the article that you need: How to Remove Grease Stains from Leather.

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