Don't let hair dye ruin your bedding or clothes – learn how to remove tough stains

Discover how to remove hair dye from bedding and clothes, and restore your items to their former color.

Grey linen bedding with piles of throw pillows
(Image credit: The Secret Linen Store)

It can happen to the best of us. Whether you regularly dye your hair at home or are trying it for the first time, hair dye stains can often appear on your bedding and clothes.

Whilst it can be done, removing hair dye from bedding and clothes isn't easy. If the hair dye is semi-permanent or long-lasting, it can really sink deep into the fabric and can be a pain to get out, especially if you’ve got cotton or linen sheets, which soak up everything. 

However, if dyes are temporary, they mostly just sit on top of the fabric and are easier to remove when cleaning your bed sheets. Here are some tips on how to remove the stains depending on how permanent and how set in they are. 

How to get hair dye out of bedding and clothes 

Below is a step by step guide to help you remove hair dye from your bedding and garments. 

1. Act quickly

Timing is important, and it increases the chances of a positive outcome the earlier you apply the treatment. This can be true, especially where the hair dye stains are relatively new but the stained material has not yet been washed, so it is important to treat the stain immediately. 

2. Spot test and pretreat the stain

Having first tested that it would not damage the fabric, Angela Rubin from Hellamaid suggests that you treat the stain with an appropriate-quality stain remover or a solution of warm water and an oxygen-based bleach substitute, like OxiClean from Walmart

‘Slowly make the solution penetrate the garment by first using a soft brush or your hand,’ says Angela. ‘This step will help to emulsify and cleanse the hair dye deposits from the fibers.’

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands. 

3. Wash with hot water

After pre-treatment, you should wash the stained item in your washing machine using the maximum water temperature for the fabric. According to Angela, this will help to soften the hair dye stain and, in the process, wash out the compounds. 

If this fails, then repeat the pretreatment and washing steps again on the stained area. Sometimes, it is possible to have a hard time resolving some stains, and this may take some time and several sessions to do so. 

4. Let it air dry

Once you’ve gotten rid of the stain, let the item air dry. Find a nice breezy spot outside or in a well-ventilated area indoors, and hang it up to dry. If it’s possible, try to let it dry in the sunlight, as the sun can naturally help to bleach out any leftover traces of the stain.  

Rustic neutral bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

Alternative methods to try

Baking soda paste

Prepare a solution of baking soda and water and scoop it directly onto the stain. Allow it to remain for several hours then wash as you normally do. The rough nature of baking soda makes it effective in removing the hair dye pigments.

Lemon juice or vinegar

Cleaning vinegar or lemon juice can both aid in the breakdown of the hair dye compounds due to their acidic properties. Rub either one on the stain, let it remain for some time and then wash as usual. Using lemon juice on vinegar will help remove the stain but also help prevent the clothing from fading.

Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover

‘If you don't mind a less conventional approach, try using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer,’ Karina Toner from Spekless Cleaning. ‘Apply it directly to the stain and blot with a clean cloth.’ 

‘These solvents could help in the proper dissolution of the dye molecules,’ continues Karina. ‘Rub a little amount on the stained area and leave it for about 5-10 minutes before washing the cloth with another clean material.’

Alcohol breaks down the dye, making it easier to remove. This method is particularly effective on smaller stains or in situations where you don't have access to more traditional cleaning agents.

Hydrogen Peroxide Powerhouse (For Whites Only)

For the last resort on white fabrics only, one can apply pre-treatment with 3% hydrogen peroxide. However, one must use it with a lot of caution because it bleaches out some of the fabrics.

 Commercial hair dye removers

In the worst-case scenario, purchase a hair dye remover product such as Colortrak Gentle Hair Color Remover Wipes from Amazon, that is recommended exclusively for this process. Ensure that you follow the directions provided on the product pack in order to achieve the best results.

For persistent stains, you might need to combine some of these methods. Always test any treatment on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't damage the fabric. 

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.