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Home Ec: How to Remove Dye-Based Stains

Filed Under: Essential Skills, Know-How

It's time for our third installment in DIY Life's stain removal series -- tackling dye-based stains.

Although dye-based stains can be tricky, they're not impossible.

Common Dye-Based Stains

Fruits and berries
Condiments (mustard, ketchup)
Ink
Jelly or jam
Color bleeding (in the wash)

Getty Images


How to Launder Dye-Based Stains
Dye-based stains can be some of the most challenging to eliminate. The good news is, fresh dye-based can often be removed with just hot running water. The bad news? If the stain has had time to set, the process becomes more complicated.

For Lightly Soiled Dye-Based Stains
If the stain is fresh, soak the garment or material in hot running water, repeating as many times necessary for the stain to dissolve completely. If this process is too gentle, you may need to rinse first with cold water, then rub laundry detergent into the affected area (you might want to try glycerin or hairspray too), followed by a long soak in hot water. Wash as normal, and repeat the process as necessary.

For Heavily Soiled Dye-Based Stains
If the stain is very stubborn, and the fabric is white and can withstand bleach, soak it in liquid chlorine bleach and water for about 15 minutes. If the fabric is colored or not bleach-friendly, try a similar solution of oxygen bleach and water.

Eco-Friendly Method
Rinse garment or material with cold water, then apply a generous amount of lemon juice to the affected area. Let sit for a few minutes and soak in hot water for twenty minutes. Repeat the process as necessary.

Stay tuned for our next installment: Removing Tannin-Based Stains.

SEE ALSO:
Dry Up Grease Stains with Plain White Chalk (Lifehacker)
Furniture That Can Stand Up to Spills and Stains (ShelterPop)


  • Terry

    Oh, CONDIMENT stains. Never mind!

    Reply
  • A.S.

    Aqua Net hairspray or any type of cheapo hair spray.... gets out ink..... that's it.

    Reply
  • Dawn

    Or you can do what bartenders have been doing for years and use a little club soda!

    Reply
  • Leo M. Gates

    Hairspray in a cold water wash will remove ink. (AquaNet, Caryl Richards "Just Wonderful", Adorn). The cheaper/harsher the hairspray the better). I've salvaged many a dress shirt with this tidbit. No worries with a colored shirt either.

    Reply
  • undrgrndgirl

    to remove ball point pen ink spray with hairspray and launder as usual...works every time!

    Reply
  • gposner

    Give the shirt to your wife or girlfriend..If she can't get the stain out, with hold sex and money from her.

    Reply
  • Dee

    The active ingredient in hairspray that makes ink come out is rubbing alcohol. Don't wet it first. Just stretch it over a glass and pour the alcohol through the stain. It will disappear. And it won't be sticky.

    Reply
  • Chris E.

    Come on now! I am a dry cleaner and teach removal of ink stains like you have shown in the picture. It can take a highly skilled professional 20-30 minutes with professional stain removal chemicals live steam and lots of paper towels to blot the ink as it bleeds out of the fabric. We keep on hand 6 different types of bleach to remove the last traces.

    Most ink will not come out with your prescribed methods. This is one time you should leave stain removal to the experts.

    Reply
  • Ty Baine

    I'm inclined to agree with you. I've had many a pen leak in my pocket, and there ain't no easy fool proof way to get the ink out. I've tried everything I could get my hands on, even WD40. Nothing works very good. I'm guessing maybe there are more than one kind of ink, which would make a difference also.


  • Will

    This is one time I disagree with the professional dry cleaner. Sorry....but....
    I am an architect have over many years had the misfortune of sticking many pens in my dress shirt pockets at the the office. It is a variation on Dee's recommendation- just adds another step or 2. As soon as i got home that evening, I would stuff the shirt pocket down the lavatory drain an inch or two - kind of like a coffee sieve-- and liberally pour alcohol on it and let it sit. Let it sit for an hour or several hours, but keep damp. Repeat as necessary. When you pull the shirt out don't worry. You WILL gasp since the ink has spread out over a much larger area. Treat again if you are unsure. THEN..I will spray with Spray-and-Wash (others may work but this is what has worked 20 times for me), then immediately launder. When the shirt comes out of the washing machine in likelihood the stain will be gone, except for some residue down in the stitching inside the shirt pocket. Do not dry until you are satisfied, but repeat the procedure if necessary. Send through the dryer and 95% of the time it will come out very, very good. If not, sorry to say, retire the shirt to a yard work or shop work shirt.

    Reply
  • Arene

    My 30 year old son did a load of whites in the washing machine not realizing that he had left a ball point pen in a shirt pocket. You can't believe the mess it made. Just out of pure stubborness I was going to see if I could conquer it.. And I did! I used hair spray. I sprayed on the backside of the stain, let it set a few minutes and rinsed under cold water while rubbing the fabric together. I kept repeating this until I got it all. It wasn't easy since it was a whole load of laundry but it worked.

    Reply
  • Toni

    My 30 year old son did a load of whites in the washing machine not realizing that he had left a ball point pen in a shirt pocket. You can't believe the mess it made. Just out of pure stubborness I was going to see if I could conquer it.. And I did! I used hair spray. I sprayed on the backside of the stain, let it set a few minutes and rinsed under cold water while rubbing the fabric together. I kept repeating this until I got it all. It wasn't easy since it was a whole load of laundry but it worked.

    Reply
  • Donna

    Here is a recipe for a cheap spray that works on all the stains mentioned:
    In a spray bottle (approx 2 cup size) put 1/4 cup ammonia (not sudsy), 1/4 cup dish washing liquid (grease cutting kind, I use Dawn) then fill the sprayer with cold water. Spray on the clothes and rub well into the stain. Wash the clothes in cold water. This is safe for colored fabrics as well.

    Reply
  • Mayj

    Try Pine Sol. Soak it and wash it. Woks on hard surfaces, too

    Reply
  • Clare

    Hairspray directly on the ink stain, WILL remove the stain. Never fails.

    Reply
  • Devine

    hairspray gets ink off the carpet. When you are painting the inside walls of your home, drip paint on the carpet, light switches, fixers, hairspray removes the paint.

    Reply
  • kathy

    Someone beat me to it, but they are right...club soda, or seltzer water, whatever you call it, is perfect. I have used it for years on every possible stain, and it has never failed. No fuss, no muss....no soaking....so try it next time, you'll be glad you did.

    Reply
  • 17 Comments / 1 Pages
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