What To Do If Color Bleeds In The Wash

Posted on March 16, 2023 by Steven Toltz

Most of the time, getting the laundry done is a labor of love. After all of the washing, drying, hanging, folding, and putting clothes away, the last thing you want to deal with is realizing that your garments have been stained from colors bleeding during the wash cycle. If you’ve found yourself in this unfortunate position, don’t worry! We’re here to help with these easy-to-follow instructions on what to do if color bleeds in the wash.

How Color Bleeds Happen

Before we dive into treating your garments, let’s quickly understand how color bleeds happen. 

Most of the time, a color bleed happens when a garment is made using ineffective or inexpensive dying techniques and dyes and it’s washed with lighter-colored garments. The dye can either be overdyed or improperly set in the fabric, neither of which can be apparent when on the shelves or racks at a store. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tell until you get the garment in the wash and experience a color bleed. 

Some colors are more susceptible to color bleeding, with orange and red colored clothes typically being the most prone to color bleeding compared to other colors. For this reason, you may want to wash new orange-red garments on their own for their first couple of washes, unless you want your white socks to come out of the wash newly pink! 

How to Treat a Color Bleed

Dye transfers are best treated immediately after the garment is washed and is still wet. Once a garment dries, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove the color bleed.

  1. Identify the Item that caused the color bleed and remove it from the group
  2. Separate all of the garments affected by the color bleed 
  3. Re-wash the affected garments with detergent and oxygen bleach on a normal cycle (or the cycle the label calls for)
  4. If the rewash doesn’t remove the stain, mix oxygen bleach and cool water in a washtub or sink
  5. Submerge items to soak in the solution for a minimum of 8 hours
  6. Check for stains and soak them again if stains haven’t lifted 
  7. Wash the garments one more time using regular detergent
  8. Wash the item(s) that caused the color bleed separately to remove more unset dye and prevent future color bleeds

Having a hard time removing a color bleed stain? Bring your garments to our expert cleaning team at one of our 20+ convenient Colorado locations!

How to Prevent a Color Bleed in the Wash

Preventing color bleeding disasters is easy once you know what to look for. 

The most important step in washing your clothes is to always read the label before a wash. If the label reads “wash before wearing”, consider this a warning – it’s likely that the fabric will bleed in the wash. Giving these items a wash or two on their own, instead of mixing them with other garments, is a great way to prevent a color bleed during the first wash. 

When bringing home a new garment, it’s best to err on the side of caution and either hand or machine wash your new clothing individually or with like-colors in cold water for the first few washes. In general, sorting your clothing and washing lights, whites, and darks separately will help in protecting colors in a wash. 

Save Your Clothes From Color Bleeding

Whether you’re preventing or treating a color bleed, it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re following the proper steps to protect and preserve the color of your garments. 

If you’re unsure and nervous about damaging your clothing, bring your items to the experts at Dependable Cleaners for safe washing and drying, or consider our convenient laundry pickup and delivery service! Our quality guarantee ensures your clothing will be treated with the highest quality care, including our proprietary 7 point inspection system to best protect your garments.