There’s something undeniably chic about white clothing, whether it’s a shirt, trouser suit, or a flowing dress. The challenge comes with keeping them looking crisp and bright, and avoiding the dreaded pink tinge.
At one time or another, many people have opened the door of their washing machine and discovered that a whitewash has turned pink.
But what causes this and what, if anything, can be done to fix it? Here’s what you need to know.
What Causes White Clothes to Turn Pink?
The most common cause of clothes turning pink is when they’ve been washed with other items which aren’t colourfast.
Fabric can often bleed, especially on new items, with the dye leaching out into the water and affecting the rest of the wash. As white clothes are so light, they will show this colour transfer far more readily than darker materials.
It’s always a good idea to sort clothing into separate colours before washing. This can be groups of colours, rather than one individual wash for each specific colour. A common way to sort washing would be reds, whites, lights, darks, and colours.
By only washing white clothing with other white items, you’ll prevent any colour transfer or greyness, and you’ll keep a bright, crisp finish.
When placing clothes in the washing machine, be vigilant for errant items that sneak in. Red or pink socks getting caught up in trouser legs are a common culprit!
Don’t forget to check the machine for any leftover items from the last wash; this is another way that your whitewash could be compromised.
It’s also sensible to also check the pockets as it’s not just clothing that can cause colour transfers. Sweet wrappers, chopsticks, and pens can all leak out red dye and turn your white clothing pink.
In a nutshell, keep everything other than white clothing out of the washing machine to prevent any unwanted dying effects!
Can You Fix White Clothes Which Have Turned Pink?
Before you discard your pink clothing to the bin, it’s worth trying to restore their original white colour.
It’s not always possible but in many cases, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to banish the unwanted pink tint.
The single most important factor is to avoid the tumble dryer. This can “set” the colour and make it impossible to remove.
Giving the rogue pink clothes a soak in a bleach and water solution can be very effective. Mix 60ml of bleach (around three tablespoons) with 4.5 litres of water and mix well.
Wearing rubber gloves, submerge your pink clothing in the bleach and water and allow it to soak for five minutes.
If needed, use a wooden spoon to swirl the clothes around to make sure they are properly saturated.
Don’t leave the clothes in the bleach solution for longer than five minutes because it can weaken the fabric and cause holes.
You may notice the pink colour has lifted, but if not, rinse the clothing thoroughly and then repeat the bleach treatment.
You can also wash the clothing in the washing machine by adding non-chlorine bleach to your usual laundry detergent. This should remove any remaining pink stain.
One word of caution: you’ll need to check that the fabric is suitable for bleaching. Generally linen, cotton, polyester, acrylic, and nylon can all be bleached, but wool, spandex, silk, and leather can’t be.
Why Did My White Shirt Turn Pink When I Tried to Bleach It?
Although bleach will normally remove unwanted colour, it is possible that it can cause white clothing to turn pink.
This is a chemical chain reaction that normally occurs if you’ve been wearing sunscreen that’s rubbed off onto your clothes. The bleach reacts with the sunscreen, causing a bright pink colour to appear.
This isn’t quite as easy to remedy but rinsing the clothing and then soaking in vodka can be very effective and works rapidly.
Hanging the clothes outside in bright sunshine may also make the pink patches completely vanish.
In The Wash is your guide to the best laundry and cleaning products, tips and tricks. Our mission is to solve the UK’s cleaning and laundry dilemmas!