What Removes Permanent Hair Dye From Clothes?

Treat permanent hair-dye stains right away for the best success.
... Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether you’re getting your hair dyed by a pro or you're playing hairdresser at home, accidents happen, and you might be left with some dye stains on your clothes. Before you say adieu to your once clean shirt or jeans, try some simple spot-removal tips first. Even though the dye is said to be permanent, with a little persistence you just might be able to salvage your dye-stained garments.

Pour heavy-duty, liquid laundry detergent over the dye stain. Use a clean white rag to blot the fabric so the detergent penetrates the stain. Rinse the stained area of the fabric to remove the detergent.

Soak the stained fabric in a bleach solution if the clothing item is white and bleach is safe for the material. Mix 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water and soak for 15 minutes. If the clothing is colored, mix 1 gallon of cool water and 1 cup of ammonia. Hold the dye-stained part of the fabric taut over a bucket or sink and slowly pour all of the ammonia solution over the stain so it runs through the fabric and into the bucket or sink.

Rinse the fabric with cool water. Launder the clothing as usual with heavy-duty laundry detergent.

Check the clothing after taking it out of the washer. Don’t put it in the dryer until all of the hair dye is gone. The heat from the dryer will make the stain more difficult to remove. Let the clothing air-dry to be absolutely sure that the stain is gone, as clothes often don't show light stains when wet.

Wet a clean white rag with white vinegar. Sponge the vinegar onto any dye stain that remains on the clothing.

Launder the clothing as usual. Add heavy-duty laundry detergent to the washer and 2 cups of white vinegar.

  • Never mix bleach and ammonia. The fumes are toxic. Use bleach and/or ammonia in a well-ventilated area and wear rubber gloves to protect your skin.
  • Test the bleach or ammonia solution on a hidden area of the garment first to check for any changes in color or intolerance on the part of the fabric.
  • If the clothing is not machine washable, sponge the stain with white vinegar to remove as much dye as possible then hand wash the garment or take it to a professional cleaner. Most garments that are not machine washable will not be able to tolerate chlorine bleach or ammonia.

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.