How to repair clothes dyed by accident

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you are working with rusty tools that have discoloured your beloved white jeans or accidentally tossed in your white blouse with a red rag and now are faced with blotchy stains on your favourite garment, repairing clothes dyed by accident is often a hit or miss proposition. Factors such as heat applied after the dyeing process, utilisation of incorrect stain removers, or even just the application of a complete dyeing process only to realise that the colour came out all wrong can determine the failure or success of your repair efforts. Not every piece of clothing can be saved; however; there are several distinct steps to take when learning how to repair clothes dyed by accident. By following these easy steps your odds of saving your favourite garments are a lot better.

Take white clothes that may have been dyed by accident during a washing cycle and do not dry them. Instead, immerse them in a bucket with concentrated pure lemon juice and let them stand overnight. After 24 hours you may wash them as you normally would and put them through the dryer as well.

Add Rit Color Remover to the water when washing whites dyed by accident. This is especially effective when the discolouration is due to washing the white clothes with other garments dyed with Rit. Depending on the depth of the stain, you may need to repeat this process as the first wash may lighten but not completely remove the unwanted dye spots.

Rinse white clothes, accidentally dyed due to contact with a rusty gadget, under cold water until the stain changes from an angry red to a tan or yellow discolouration.

Use Rit Rust Remover on such clothes and also for whites dyed accidentally due to exposure to clay and rust contained in water. This product only works on white clothes and will remove the yellow discolouration usually within one washing.

Blot with a white paper towel any white clothes dyed by accident with ink. Spray hairspray on a clean sponge and gently rub the ink stain. Rinse the garment completely. Finally, wash as usual, adding OxyClean stain fighter.

Soak any white garments that do not respond to your dye removal attempt overnight in hot water and OxyClean. This is a matter of last resort and should this step fail, repairing your clothes dyed by accident, will require covering up the stains with either patches, whimsical shapes that may be ironed on, or a swatch of colour that closely matches the white of the garment.


Resist the temptation to use household bleach. Bleach is advertised to be a stain fighter but it will actually yellow the whites overall. In some cases it may set stains—usually red and purple—and it is not possible to get them out after a complete washing and drying cycle when chlorine bleach is used.

Things You'll Need

  • Concentrated pure lemon juice
  • Rit Color Remover
  • Rit Rust Remover
  • White paper towel
  • Hairspray
  • Clean sponge
  • OxiClean Stain Fighter
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About the Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.