How to remove red dye from white clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

You may have done what your mother has always told you not to do and threw in your white garments with your reds. Whatever the case, the garment is now splodged with red dye. The bad news is that red dye happens to be one of the trickiest stains to remove from clothing. The good news is that white clothing lends itself better to a variety of stain removal options. Before giving up on your clothing, it's worth taking a half hour to see if you can restore it to its former state.

Check the garment's care label to find out if it is safe to use chlorine bleach. Garments that aren't chlorine bleach-safe will require a different approach.

Fill a bucket with enough cool water to cover the garment. Add 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Resist the temptation to add any more as excessive quantities of bleach will weaken the fibres of your garment. Submerge the entire chlorine bleach-safe garment into the mixture. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes. If your garment is not chlorine bleach-safe, proceed to Step 3.

Fill a bucket with enough warm water to cover the garment. For a non-bleach red dye stain remover, the University of Illinois Extension service recommends adding 1 tbsp ammonia and 1/2 tbsp washing powder per quart of water. Submerge the entire garment in the mixture. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes.

Rinse the garment thoroughly and check for stains. If stains remain, you may need to use a colour stripper to remove the remaining dye. Colour strippers are available in the laundry aisle at your supermarket. Follow the directions on the package carefully.


Do not, under any circumstances, mix chlorine bleach and ammonia together or use them at the same time. This will result in a toxic fume, which is extremely hazardous to your health.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Washing powder
  • Ammonia
  • Colour stripper
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About the Author

Sophie Levant is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Having attended Michigan State University, her interests include history classical music, travel, and the German language. Her work has been published at eHow and Travels.