What Can Be Done When Colors Bleed in the Wash?

To remove stains caused by colors bleeding in the wash, use commercial color-run remover, vinegar, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach. Treat clothing that bleeds in the wash with vinegar or table salt to set the dyes and prevent color run.

Commercial color-run remover can be used on most types of clothing and is available in the laundry isle of most discount and drug stores. Add the color-run remover according to the directions on the package, then wash and dry the clothes as recommended on the care label. More than one treatment may be needed if the stains are dark or if the clothing has been dried after being stained.

White and light-colored clothing may be treated with chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach to remove stains caused by bleeding. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of chlorine bleach to a full load, then wash and dry as usual after the stains are gone. Oxygen bleach should be used according to the directions on the label. If only a few garments have been affected, soak the items in a tub of cold water with 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 2 cups of white vinegar. Rinse the garments thoroughly and wash as usual.

To prevent colors from bleeding in the wash, separate the clothing that bleeds and wash it in cold water with 1 cup of white vinegar added to the wash cycle. Alternatively, 1/2 cup of regular table salt added to the rinse cycle helps set fabric dyes and prevent color bleeding.