Remove Colour Run from White Clothes

How to Remove Colour Run from White Clothes

If your white clothes have been tormented by a dreaded pink sock, you’re probably thinking about donating or throwing your beloved clothes out. 

But what if I told you that you don’t have to do this, because there are ways that you can restore and revitalise your white clothes. Don’t believe me? Keep on reading to find out how to remove colour run from white clothes with ease!  

Essential Tips Before Starting

Here are a few tips you need to consider before you start cleaning the colour run off your white clothes: 

  • Act as fast as possible! If you notice your white clothes are looking a little more colourful than usual, you need to act as quickly as possible to remove this dye transfer from your garments. Allowing the transferred dye to sit for a longer period than necessary on your white clothes will make the colour harder to remove, and in some cases, the colour may not come off the items entirely.
  • No tumble drying! Do not dry your dyed garments in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will only dry the colour run into the fibres of your clothes. This will make the colour harder to remove.
  • Remove the source of the problem! If you can see the source of the issue, remove it immediately, so that it doesn’t cause any more problems. For example, if you see a dreaded red sock in the wash, get rid of it and dry it somewhere else that’s away from your white clothes.
  • Test your chosen method out! You should never skip the testing phase. Not all clothing can be washed in the same way, so doing a small patch test on a discreet piece of your clothing is essential. Such a test will tell you pretty quickly if your chosen method is going to cause more damage or will solve your colour run problem.
  • Read clothing tags! Before treating any clothing, you must read the label that’s attached to it. The label will provide you with lots of information, like how to wash the item, what the item is made from, if the garment can be bleached and whether or not the item of clothing needs to be hand washed. All of this information will come in handy later on when you start the colour run removal process.


Removing Colour Run from White Clothes

Removing Colour Run from White Clothes

There are a number of methods you can try in order to remove colour runs from white clothes. Of course, the faster you react to the dye run the better the outcome will be. Below you’ll find methods that are suitable for both fresh colour run stains and slightly older colour run marks. 

Method 1: Re-wash your white clothes to remove the colour run from them

If you react super-fast, you may be able to remove your laundry from the washing machine, find and remove the troublesome item that’s unleashed havoc on your white clothes, and then just reload the washing machine and re-wash your white clothes again to remove the dye run. 

Of course, for this to work you do need to act very quickly and this isn’t always possible. Do also keep in mind that depending on the colour of the offending item, and how set in the dye marks are, you may need to try out another method as well to remove the colour stains. 

You can try out any of the methods below to remove the remaining remnants of your colour run stains. 

Method 2: Soak white clothes in detergent to remove the colour run from them

If washing your clothes straight away doesn’t work, you should consider treating your clothes with detergent before they go back into the washing machine. Follow the steps below to try out this method.

Here’s what you need:

Here are the steps to follow to remove the colour run from your white clothes:

  1. Look at your clothing’s tags and find out what temperature your items can be washed at – temperatures will vary because some materials can withstand hotter temperatures, so group similar materials together.
  2. Fill a bathtub with water – temperature should be suitable for the material you’re working with. 
  3. Pop your gloves on.
  4. Add some biological washing powder to the water (follow the advice on the box for measurements) – bio washing powder is great for removing tough stains. 
  5. Pop your items into the water and make sure they are submerged.
  6. Agitate the clothes gently. 
  7. Leave the clothes to rest in the water for a minimum of half an hour, but you can adjust this time by a few minutes, if need be. 
  8. Pull the clothes out of the water and rinse them under a tap – the water should be a temperature that is suitable for the material.
  9. Pop your items into the washing machine and wash them as normal. 
  10. If you don’t see any significant results, you should repeat the above process. 
  11. Dry clothes as normal when you are done. 

If you have repeated the above process, but you still haven’t removed the colour run stains from your white clothes, you should move onto the next method. 

Method 3: Soak white clothes in white vinegar to remove the colour run from them

remove colour run with white vinegar

White vinegar is an alternative to using harsh chemicals because it’s a natural ingredient. It can also remove some of the toughest stains around! Here’s how to remove colour runs on white clothes with white vinegar.

Here’s what you need: 

  • Gloves 
  • White vinegar 
  • Water 
  • Bathtub/bucket
  • Bowl
  • Cloth

Here are the steps to follow to remove the colour run from your white clothes:

  1. Pop your gloves on. 
  2. Pop a teaspoon of white vinegar into a bowl and fill the rest of the bowl with warm water. 
  3. Grab a cloth and soak it in the white vinegar and water mix.
  4. Wring out the cloth and press the damp cloth onto a discreet patch of material to perform a patch test. If all is well, continue with this method.  
  5. Fill a bucket with four litres of warm water.
  6. Add a cup of white vinegar to this water. 
  7. Pop your white clothes into the bucket and make sure the items are submerged. 
  8. Agitate the clothes slightly.
  9. Allow the clothes to rest in the water for about 30 minutes. 
  10. Remove the items and rinse them under warm water.
  11. Wash the items in the washing machine as normal.
  12. Dry the items as you would do usually.

Note: If you cannot fit all of your clothes into one bucket, just repeat the steps above by cleaning a couple of items at a time. Don’t try and squeeze all your clothes into one bucket. Alternatively, if you have a bathtub to try this method out, just adjust the measurements. Work on the basis of: one cup of white vinegar to four litres of water.

Method 4: Soak white clothes in a non-chlorine bleach to remove the colour run from them

remove colour run with non-chlorine bleach

If you’ve got dye stains that are more difficult to remove, you can go down the bleach route. But before you do this, make sure that your items of clothing can be bleached. Not all materials should come into contact with bleach. So, if your items state that they shouldn’t be bleached, you should skip this method. Bleaching will ruin these clothes! 

Here’s what you need: 

  • Non-chlorine bleach
  • Water
  • Bathtub/bucket
  • Gloves
  • Bowl
  • Bucket
  • Cloth

Here are the steps to follow to remove the colour run from your white clothes:

  1. Read all the clothing labels on all the clothes you need to treat. 
  2. Pop your gloves on. 
  3. Add a tiny drop of bleach to a bowl.
  4. Fill the rest of the bowl with water.
  5. Grab a cloth and soak it in the water. 
  6. Wring out the cloth and take it over to your clothes. 
  7. Find a discreet patch of material and do a patch test on each item. If all works out well, continue with this method.
  8. Pop about a quarter of a cup of non-chlorine into the bucket.
  9. Pop four litres of water into the bucket.
  10. Add your damaged white clothes to the bucket. 
  11. Leave the clothes to soak in the water for half an hour – monitor the clothes during this time. 
  12. Remove the clothes and rinse them under warm water. 
  13. Wash the clothes as normal in the washing machine.
  14. Continue to dry the clothes as you would usually do.   

Note: If you need to use a bathtub, just adjust the measurements noted above. Assume that you add a quarter of a cup of bleach to four litres of water.

Method 5: Use a colour run remover to remove the colour run from your white clothes

colour run remover on white shirt

If none of the above methods work out well enough for you, you could buy a specialised product to help you remove the colour run from your white clothes. 

There are both advantages and disadvantages of doing this, and these include: 


  • Using specialised products can save time.
  • You can purchase specialised and tested goods for the job.
  • You have reviews and experiences from other users to read through, which can help you out. 


  • Mixed results from users – some say products work like a dream, others say that products are a nightmare to use. 
  • You may have to try a product multiple times before it works as you’d like it to. 
  • Price concerns. 
  • Chemical based products. 

Of course, it is entirely up to you to decide what you’d like to do. Nonetheless, here are a few items to think about: 

  • Dr. Beckmann Colour Run Remover is a super easy to use product that won’t require much of your time and effort. To use this product, you just pour the contents of one sachet into a bucket, fill the bucket with six litres of water and add your dyed garments. Then you just leave your items to soak for about four hours, or overnight for more dyed garments, in the bucket of water. It really is as easy as that! 

And if you don’t want to use the run remover in this way, you can just pour the contents of the sachet into your washing machine’s detergent drawer and run a cycle – you can actually treat more clothes at once if you do this. 

  • HG Colour Run Remover For White Laundry is another item you could try out. This product from HG is also straightforward to use, because you just have to put 100g of the item into the washing machine, without detergent, and it restores your white clothes for you. You can also use this remover on hand wash only white clothes. 
  • If you’re looking for a product that can remove the stains and whiten your clothes at the same time, you should check out Vanish Fabric Stain Remover Platinum. This product can also be added to your washing machine to treat your white clothes. And if need be, you can use it to pre-treat your dirty laundry – it can really get to work on those pesky dye stains for you!


How to Prevent Colour Run on White Clothes in the Future

prevent colour run on white clothes

Follow the advice below to stop this problem from occurring again in the future:

  • Make use of Dylon’s Colour Catchers and products that are similar to these – they will help to catch the run of unwanted dye.
  • Separate your laundry, so there’s less chance of your clothes being dyed incorrectly in the first place.
  • Check the laundry before you wash it – keep a lookout for a stray sock!
  • Check the laundry before you dry it – remember that tumble drying causes the dye to dry into the fibres of your garments, and this will make the colour harder to remove. 
  • Wash clothes that are likely to cause dye run off, on their own – they won’t damage other clothes then.
  • Avoid washing white clothes with other coloured clothes – this limits how much damage can come to your white clothes.
  • Don’t just leave wet clothes to sit in a basket, sort them out so that you can discover any issues quickly. This way you can remove the troubling garment and sort the colour problem out as soon as possible. 
  • Do a colourfast test! – If you don’t know if a dye is going to run from one item onto another, do a test. Just grab the item you think will cause a problem, wet a seam (somewhere discreet) and pop a piece of kitchen towel on top of the wet area. If the dye bleeds into the kitchen towel the item is not colourfast, and therefore, the colour is likely to transfer onto other items of clothing. These items should be washed on their own. 
  • Clothing should be washed at lower temperatures if a dye run is likely to occur. 
  • Cleaning your washing machine out after a colour run incident is also worth doing, as this prevents issues developing on other items of clothing that you plan on washing.