How To Remove Color Run Stain From Washable Fabrics

February 14, 2023

Color run or color bleed stains can be one of the most frustrating laundry mishaps you can encounter. When colors bleed or run, they can create unsightly stains on your clothes that can be challenging to remove. Whether it's a new item that wasn't properly pre-washed or a mixed load of laundry that went wrong, color run or bleed stains can happen to anyone. Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to successfully remove these stains from washable fabrics. In this article, we'll explore some of the most effective techniques and provide step-by-step instructions to help you get your clothes looking like new again.


Bright Colors


These stains may appear as discoloration of the fabric with uneven patches of color that are different from the original garment color.


Cold (65° to 75°F)


Cold water helps to prevent the dye from setting and spreading.

The Science Behind Color Run Stains

When clothes are washed, the detergents and water work to remove dirt and stains from the fabrics. However, some dyes in colored clothes can break down and release their color during the washing process. If these loose dyes come in contact with other fabrics, they can transfer and stain them. This is why it is important to separate your laundry by color to prevent color run stains.

What You'll Need To Get Rid Of Color Run Stains

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Commercial color run remover
  • Bleach or Oxygen-based bleach
  • Laundry detergent
  • Cold water
  • Bucket or basin
  • Stain brush or soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Clean, white cloth or paper towels

Step By Step Process To Remove Color Run Stains

  1. Immediately remove the stained garment from the wash and set it aside.
  2. Rinse the stained area with cold water to remove as much of the loose dye as possible.
  3. Fill a bucket or basin with cold water and add a cup of white vinegar. Soak the garment for at least 30 minutes.
  4. If the stain is still there, create a paste of baking soda and water, and apply it directly to the stained area. Let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it off with cold water.
  5. If the stain persists, use a commercial color run remover according to the product's instructions. Rinse the garment thoroughly with cold water afterward.
  6. If the stain still remains, launder the garment separately in the washing machine with laundry detergent, using cold water.
  7. For white garments, you can use bleach or an oxygen-based bleach. Make sure to check the garment's care label and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the appropriate amount to use.
  8. After washing, check if the stain is gone. If the stain is still there, repeat the process or take the garment to a professional cleaner.
Note that the garment should be washed in cold water in the washing machine, as hot water can set the stain permanently. Additionally, it's important to check the care label of the garment for any special washing instructions, and to test any stain-removal product on an inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the stain.

In Brief

Color run stains occur when loose dyes from colored clothes transfer and stain other fabrics during the washing process. To remove the stain, rinse the garment with cold water, soak it in white vinegar, apply baking soda paste, and use a commercial color run remover as necessary. Launder the garment separately in the washing machine with laundry detergent using cold water. Test any stain-removal product on an inconspicuous area before applying it to the stain, and follow the garment's care label for washing instructions.

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