How to remove colours that ran in the wash

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Laundry accidents can happen to anyone. Rule number one when it comes to laundry: separate dark colours from light colours. However, you may inadvertently mix dark- and light-coloured items, or you may take a risk thinking a certain colour won't run in the wash.

When this happens, light-coloured items may take on some of the colour that ran from the darker-coloured items. Luckily, you can easily reverse this, and your light-coloured items will return to their original colour.

Soak your laundry as quickly as possible after you notice the colour runs, especially if the laundry is still wet. First, soak the laundry in warm water and washing powder for about 30 minutes. Rinse, and check the results.

Separate laundry into white items and colour-fast items. Place the white items into a basin, sink or bowl and add about 59 ml (1/4 cup) of bleach. Let the items soak for no longer than 15 minutes; any longer could cause the fabric to weaken. The bleach should return these items their original white colour. Rinse thoroughly with water, and wash in detergent either by hand or in the washing machine and separate these items from the dark-coloured items.

Add water and about 59 ml (1/4 cup) of colour-safe bleach to the colour-fast items. As an alternative, you can use a product for colour-bled items. Either product should remove the colour that ran onto the items. Let the items soak for about 15 minutes. Rinse, and wash using washing powder.

Soak both the white items and the colour-fast items separately in a mixture of water and about a cup of white vinegar as an additional, but optional step. White vinegar helps restore the colour of discoloured clothing.

Repeat any of the steps if necessary if the colours still haven't been restored to your laundry.