Clothes washing tips: colour run

Updated April 17, 2017

Colour run is one of the most damaging and easily preventable types of clothing stains. Many people have removed their whites from the dryer, only to find that they've been turned pink by one stray red sock. When dyes bleed from fabrics and settle on other items, the stains can set in and become permanent. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid and repair colour run on clothes.


Follow the manufacturer's laundering instructions, found on the inside label, for most garments. Be sure to wash clothing at the proper temperature, using the right cycle and detergent. Use colour-safe bleach only when the manufacturer's label advises it. Wash delicate items by hand.


Separate clothing by colour and fabric type before washing. Group together delicate fabrics, white and lighter colours, bright colours, denim and heavy fabrics, and towels. Washing garments with similar items will reduce friction damage to fabrics and make any colour transfer less noticeable and easier to repair.


Prevent new clothes from running by washing them alone before wearing them. Denims, garments with appliqu├ęs, and heavily dyed garments, such wools and cottons, are more likely to bleed and cause colour stains than other garments. These items should be washed alone, according to manufacturer's instructions, before being worn or washed with other items.


Adding vinegar and colour-absorbing towelettes to the wash cycle can help prevent colour bleeding and transfer. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of white distilled vinegar to the washer with detergent to help clothes retain their dyes and stay bright longer. Commercial colour absorbing towelettes soak up excess dye in the wash cycle and keep the dyes from damaging garments.

Removing colour stains

Carefully examine clothes for dye stains when removing them from the washer. Do not place dye-stained clothes in the dryer or hang them to dry, allowing the stains to set. To remove dye stains, immediately soak garments in a solution of water and vinegar or colour-safe bleach for 30 minutes, then launder as usual.

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About the Author

Lane Madison is a freelance writer and editor with over eight years experience as a corporate paralegal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and English and a paralegal certificate. Her writing has been published on various websites.