How To Remove Color Bleed Stains From Clothes

You’re not supposed to wash dark clothes with light clothes – but mistakes happen! In this guide I’ll show you exactly how to remove color bleed stains from clothes.

What is color bleeding in clothes? Why does it happen?

what is color bleeding and why does it happen

For anyone who does the clothes wash for their household, color bleeding is the stuff of nightmares. This disaster occurs when clothing gets wet. When clothes are wet, the dye in the fibers of the material that they are made of will begin to leach out.

This dye will then transfer into other items of clothing, and it usually happens in the washing machine.

In most cases, this color bleeding will not be noticeable. This is because you usually wash clothing of the same color alongside each other. So, you won’t notice black dye bleeding from a black top onto a pair of black jeans you’re washing, and so on.

The only reason that you will notice color bleeding is when it happens with two items of clothing that were once different colors. The majority of the time, you will notice color bleeding when a colored item of clothing sneaks into your light wash, and suddenly all of your white clothes are tinted pink or green.

Color bleeding is a nightmare for most people, but thankfully, it is often easy to fix. Of course, avoiding this happening is the best way forward, but it isn’t the end of the world if your clothes fall victim to a color bleed.

Can you remove color bleed stains?

can you remove color bleed stains

Color bleeding isn’t pleasant, and as we have said, it is best to take precautions to avoid this. But, if it does happen, there is absolutely no need for you to panic.

It can be very easy to think that it is the end of the world, especially if it is important pieces of clothing that are affected by color bleeding. But, it really isn’t.

That being said, there is no one way to reverse color bleeding. So, you might find that when you try one method, that method turns out to be completely ineffective.

Thankfully, there are lots of different methods that you can use to remove color bleed stains from your clothing. But, it is a process of trial and error, so it is best not to get disheartened straight away.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the different methods that you can use to remove color bleed stains from your clothing. But, first, let’s take a look at the equipment that you will need to do this.

How to remove color bleed stains

how to remove color bleed stains

What You Need

The key to removing color bleed stains from clothing is to be prepared. If you monitor your clothes while they are in the washing machine, you can usually tell if a color bleeding incident has occurred before the wash is even over. This gives you plenty of time to gather all the equipment that you need to do the job.

Here’s a list of things that you need to help you:

  • Liquid Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Vinegar
  • Clean clothes
  • Access to water
  • A LOT of patience

Once you have gathered everything that we have listed above, you are ready to start saving your clothes. To find out what to do next, keep on reading.

Using liquid detergent to pretreat stains

As we have said, prevention is much better than a cure. So, the best way to remove color bleed stains is to pretreat them. This is incredibly important if you are washing clothes that have previously experienced color bleeding, as it is almost impossible to remove color bleeds from areas where a bleed has previously occurred.

To pretreat your clothes, you should begin by separating them into three categories: colors, whites, and clothes with previous color bleeds. You should then take your liquid detergent and a bucket, adding 2 tablespoons of the detergent to the bucket along with a gallon of warm water.

You should then begin taking your stained garments, one by one, and soaking them in the bucket of water. Leave them in the solution for roughly 15 minutes, and then remove them. After you have taken them out of the bucket, rinse each item of clothing under cold water to remove all the residue.

This process might not completely remove the color bleed, but it should lighten the stain significantly. You can then wash the items as normal in your washing machine.

After they have been through the wash, the stain should have diminished so much that it is completely unnoticeable. Leave your clothes to dry, and repeat if necessary.

Bleach white clothes to remove stains

As we have said, you will usually notice color bleed stains on clothing when a brightly colored sock or cloth has snuck into a whitewash. It can be very alarming to find your once pure white clothes stained in a pink color, but there is no need to panic as this is easy to reverse.

The great thing about white clothing is that it doesn’t really contain any dye. So, while it is a nightmare to get bleach on colored and black clothing, you can actually use it freely on white clothing. Due to this, the best way to remove color bleed stains from your clothing is to use bleach.

Before you do this, you should check the label of each piece of clothing and check that they are bleach-friendly. Separate the items of clothing that are not.

On the items that are bleach-friendly, locate the color-stained areas, then remove the item of clothing that caused the damage. Then prepare a solution of bleach and warm water, using 1 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water, in a large tub.

Then add all the damaged pieces of clothing into the tub. Leave the ‘white’ items to soak for roughly 30 minutes so that the bleach can soak into the clothing and bring back the white color. Once half an hour has passed, rinse all the items of clothing in cold water to remove all the bleach.

You should then put all the items of clothing back in the wash, ensuring that no colored items sneak in this time. After they have been on a wash cycle, remove them and hang them to dry. When the clothing dries, you should find that your clothing is now restored to its original white color.

For the items of clothing that weren’t bleach-friendly, you should consider using an alternative method such as vinegar to remove the stains. Vinegar is very similar to bleach, but it isn’t as harmful, so it should restore the color to the clothing without damaging it in the process.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide on Colored Clothes

We have told you how to remove color bleed stains from white clothing, but now let’s talk about removing them from colored clothing. As you probably expect, you can’t use bleach on colored clothing, as this will just remove all the color. So, what should you use instead?

Unfortunately, the only way to remove color bleed stains is to use bleach. Thankfully, there are weaker types of bleach that you can use to do this job.

In particular, hydrogen peroxide is a good choice. This is a very weak type of bleach, but it is important to remember that it is bleach. So, you should test it out on a hidden piece of clothing before diving in.

To begin with, you should make a color-safe solution using 3 cups of clean water, and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Keep this mixture in a clean container.

You should then take a large tub and fill it with water before adding 1 cup of the solution that you made earlier. Then add all of your stained-colored clothing and leave it to soak for around 8 hours.

Once this time is up, remove the clothing and rinse it all in cold water. You should then put the clothes in the washer, as you have with every other method, and hang them to dry. When they have dried you should find that the stains have disappeared.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »