how to remove stains from coloured clothes

How to Remove Stains From Coloured Clothes

If there’s one thing sure to ruin your day, it’s spilling something down your favourite outfit. Not only does it mean you need to change your clothes, but it can also lead to a nasty stain that is seemingly impossible to remove from your garments.

Fortunately, getting rid of nearly every stain from your clothing is possible if you use the correct cleaner!

The bad news is that many of the popular stain removal techniques out there can bleach clothes. When it comes to coloured clothes, you thus need to be more cautious when choosing an appropriate cleaning method.

Thankfully, we know of several techniques that will eliminate some of the toughest stains without causing discolouration!

Read on to learn how to remove stains from coloured clothes quickly and effectively every time.


Stain-Removal Methods for Coloured Clothes

You’ve spilt something down your favourite outfit, but it doesn’t have to mean that item of clothing is now a lost cause.

There are plenty of ways to remove stubborn stains from your coloured clothes, which we have laid out below.

However, before we run through the techniques, there are a few general rules when it comes to stain removal.

stained coloured clothes

Things to remember when removing stains from coloured clothes:

  1. Always act as quickly as possible! Set-in stains are always more challenging to remove than fresh spills, so you’ll have better success when acting fast.
  2. Never apply hot water before using a stain remover, as the heat can cause the stain to spread and be further absorbed into the fabric. This is especially true for organic stains such as blood containing high amounts of protein.
  3. Always blot the stain gently when using your preferred cleaner. Rubbing the material will worsen the stain, pushing it deeper into the fibres and spreading it further.
  4. Once you’ve started the stain removal process, keep going until the stain has been completely removed. If you wash at high temperatures or dry in your tumble dryer, the stain can set and prove harder to shift.

Now that we’ve covered these stain removal tips, you can work on removing the stain itself!

As you’ll soon notice, all the methods below end by running the garment through the wash as usual.

We recommend using a laundry detergent designed for coloured clothes at this stage, as it will help to protect your clothes during the wash cycle, and hand wash your clothes instead if they’re unsuitable for machine washing.

1. Bicarbonate of soda

bicarbonate of soda paste

Bicarbonate of soda is a natural cleaner that can be used all over the house. Not only can it eliminate odours, limescale, and day-to-day stains, but it also works on some of the toughest stains out there, such as red wine, blood, and grass stains. 

To use this cleaning method, you need to:

  1. Combine two parts bicarbonate of soda with one part cold water to form a paste
  2. Apply the paste to the stain and lightly work it into the fabric using your finger
  3. Let the cleaner sit for at least 30 minutes 
  4. Wash your garment as usual and leave it to air dry


2. White vinegar

Does Vinegar Bleach Clothes

White vinegar is another natural stain remover safe for use on coloured clothes. It is inexpensive, found in most homes, and can remove nearly every type of stain when used correctly. 

Follow the steps below for the best results:

  1. In a large bowl, create a solution made of cold water and white vinegar at a 1:1 ratio
  2. Soak the item of stained clothing in the cleaning solution for 30 minutes
  3. Wash your garment as usual and leave it to air dry

Alternatively, you can run the stained fabric under the cold tap, apply the white vinegar directly to the stain, and then leave it for 10 minutes. This method takes less time but won’t be as effective on stubborn stains, such as tea and coffee.


3. Washing-up liquid

remove stains with washing up liquid

Our third cleaning product to try is washing-up liquid. It’s specially designed to cut through grease and oil, so this cleaning method works really if you’re dealing with an oil-based stain such as butter or lipstick.

To remove stains from coloured clothes using washing-up liquid, all you need to do is:

  1. Apply a few drops of washing-up liquid directly onto the stain
  2. Lightly work the washing-up liquid into the stained fabric using your finger or a sponge and then leave it to sit for at least 5 minutes
  3. Rinse the washing-up liquid off of the clothing and then wash and dry as usual


4. Toothpaste

remove stains with toothpaste

Next up, we have toothpaste. Be careful with this cleaning option; this product can leave stains on your clothes rather than remove them if misused.

That said, toothpaste is a great cleaner for many things around the home, including clothes. To use without the chance of stains, follow these steps:

  1. Start by doing a patch test on an inconspicuous part of the clothing to make sure no discolouration will occur
  2. Apply a small amount of toothpaste onto the stain
  3. Wet an old toothbrush and use it to gently work the toothpaste into the fabric
  4. Rinse the garment in cold water to remove all traces of toothpaste
  5. If the stain remains, repeat the above steps
  6. Wash the garment as usual and leave it to air dry


5. Rhubarb


The last of our natural cleaning options is rhubarb. This may seem a bit out there, but rhubarb is an excellent option if you’re specifically trying to remove rust stains from your clothing! It can be used to safely and gently removes stains.

All you need to do is:

  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge your item of clothing
  2. Add the rhubarb stalk to the pot and bring to the boil
  3. Let the rhubarb boil for 20 minutes
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and take out the rhubarb stalks
  5. Soak your clothing in the rhubarb water until the stain has gone
  6. Wash your garment as usual and leave it to air dry


6. Stain remover

stain remover on clothes

If you don’t want to try a DIY cleaning method, your other option is to use a store-bought stain remover.

There are plenty of good products out there, but we recommend using a stain remover that is for use on coloured clothes to make sure no discolouration occurs.

The precise method of using commercial stain removers varies by brand, so always check the bottle. However, you usually use these products in the following way:

  1. Apply a small amount of stain remover to either side of the stained fabric
  2. Lightly work the cleaner into the stain using your fingers or a cloth
  3. Let it sit for 15 minutes to lift the stain from the fabric
  4. Wash your garment in the machine and leave it to air dry


7. Colour-safe bleach

remove stains with colour-safe bleach

If all other products fail, there is always the option of using a colour-safe bleach to remove your toughest stains.

However, we only suggest you do this as a last resort. Despite being “colour-safe”, there is always the chance of discolouration when using bleach on your clothes.

Moreover, check the washing label on your garment before using this method. Some clothing made from more delicate materials won’t be safe for use with bleach, even if it is colour-safe.

Even if the label does say bleach is safe to use, we recommend doing a patch test first just to be safe. If you do want to give it a try, follow the below steps:

  1. Fill a container with enough hot water to fully submerge your item of clothing
  2. Add however much colour-safe bleach as instructed on the product’s packaging
  3. Stir the liquid to ensure the bleach is evenly distributed
  4. Soak your garment for between 30 minutes and 6 hours, checking the stained area and stirring the mixture every now and then
  5. Wash your item of clothing as usual and leave it to air dry