How to Get Hair Dye Out of Clothes

Accidents happen when you’re dyeing your gorgeous locks, and hair dye is one of the toughest stains to remove from fabric. The best method is not to make stains in the first place. Protect your clothes while applying hair color with a cape made from an old towel held on with a safety pin or binder clip. If you do stain your clothing, here are a few methods you can try.

  • Check the label
  • See if it is dry clean only fabric
  • How to get brown, black, or blue hair dye out of washable clothes
  • How to get red dye out of washable clothes

Check the Label First

The care label sewn into your garments may have specific instructions about what chemicals you should not use. For example, chlorine bleach should not be used on many washable fabrics, and washable wool requires special care. Unless specified on the care label, these cleaning solutions are safe for most washable fabrics. When in doubt, head to your neighborhood dry cleaner.

Dry-Clean Only Fabrics

If the label says dry clean only, get the garment to a dry cleaner as quickly as possible. Point out the stain, and explain what kind of dye was used. Some stains cannot be removed, but an expert dry cleaner is usually your best bet for difficult stain removal, especially in a dry clean only fabric.

How to Get Brown Hair Dye Out of Washable Clothes

How to Get Brown, Black, or Blue Hair Dye Out of Washable Clothes

1. Rinse the Stain With Cold Water or Alcohol

Some hair dyes are thick and gloppy. Before you do anything else, hold the stained area under running water, or pour rubbing alcohol over it to remove any excess dye goop. If you still see goop, try scraping with a dull knife or credit card to remove any excess. 

2. Spot-treat With Liquid Laundry Detergent

Apply a good quality liquid laundry detergent or stain removal pre-treatment that contains stain-lifting enzymes and scrub with a clean white cloth or soft-bristle brush (a toothbrush is ideal). Let sit for 5 – 15 minutes.

3. Soak in Oxygen-based Bleach

Fill the sink or a large bowl with cool water and add color-safe oxygen-based bleach according to the package directions. Soak the garment at least eight hours.

4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 If Necessary

5. Chlorine Bleach Soak for White Fabrics

If your garment can be bleached, mix one gallon of water with one-fourth cup of chlorine bleach. Soak the garment for no longer than 15 minutes. After rinsing the clothing well, launder as usual if the stain is gone. If chlorine bleach soak does not remove the stain, it’s likely that nothing will remove it.

How to Get Red Dye Out of Washable Clothes

How to Get Red Dye Out of Washable Clothes

Red hair dye holds a special place in our hearts – and on our clothes. It’s even harder to remove than brown dye. You may need extra steps and more cleaning supplies

1. Rinse the Stain With Cold Water or Alcohol

Start with step one outlined above to remove any hair dye goop. Rinse the stained area with running water or alcohol, and/or scrape off any visible goop.

2. Soak in Dishwashing Liquid and Ammonia Solution

Mix a solution of 1 quart of water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing liquid, and 1 tablespoon of household ammonia in a non-metal container. Soak the stained area for 15 minutes.

3. Scrub the Dye Stain with Liquid Laundry and Soak Again

Remove the garment from the soaking solution and rinse well. Still there? Scrub with an enzymatic liquid laundry detergent on a clean cloth, then soak it in the same solution again.

4. Soak in White Vinegar and Water Solution

If the stain persists, try using a different solution in a different container (any kind) or sink. Mix 1 quart warm water and ¼ cup white vinegar. Soak for 30 minutes. If the stain is still there, move to step 5.

5. Soak in Oxygen-based Bleach and Water Solution

Fill a clean container or sink with cool water and add all-fabric oxygen bleach according to package directions. Soak for at least 8 hours. 

Use a chlorine bleach solution if the garment is white. If you use chlorine leach, limit soaking time to 15 minutes. 

Important: Don’t mix bleach and ammonia or use the same container for soaking. When mixed together ammonia and chlorine bleach forms toxic fumes that can be deadly. If you used ammonia during the process and are now trying chlorine bleach, wash the garment between soaks (do not dry). Cap and put away the chemicals after you use them, and work in a ventilated area.

Once the stain is gone, launder as usual. It’s ok to launder the garment in a washing machine at any stage of the cleaning process but do not put in the dryer.

If all these removal methods fail, try your dry cleaner. They may be able to help. However, not all stains can be removed.

Cleaning Tips For Removing Hair Dye Stains

  • The faster you address the stain, the better. If you see the stain happen, pull the garment tight over the sink with the stained side down and run cold water or pour rubbing alcohol over the spot immediately to help keep the stain from setting and rinse off any excess dye.
  • Anytime you’re working with hair dye, wear gloves. It can be hard to get off your skin, too.
  • Don’t give up too soon. You may need to repeat these steps several times to get the stain out.
  • Avoid heat until the stain is completely gone. If you put the clothing in the dryer while any trace of the stain remains, it is unlikely to ever come out. 
  • Check for laundry services near you to deal with stubborn stains. Some of them even pick up and deliver your laundry! A commercial service may have more effective chemical processes or methods.