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How to Get Pink Out of Clothes

White clothing is a magnet for color runs. They seem particularly partial to soaking up the color red. Even the tiniest of red stripes can make your white shirt turn pink. Can it be fixed? How can you get pink stains out of white clothes?

Pink stains on white clothes are caused by color runs. Remove them with a commercial stain remover. Oxygen bleach is also effective at removing color bleed accidents. Other natural solutions include distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Rewashing the white clothing with a color catcher can also help remove pink color stains.

In this article, I’ll show you how to save your white garment from a red color bleed. Learn how to remove the pink and prevent future stains from happening.

How to Get Pink Out of Clothes

Why Do White Clothes Turn Pink?

The main reason white clothes turn pink is down to color bleed accidents. When a white garment is washed with clothing of a different color, the dye can transfer, causing stains. These stains are known as color bleeds or color runs.

Any color can cause color runs. Your white clothes can go in shades of blue, green, and even yellow. It depends on the color of the item that ended up in the wash with them. The biggest culprits for bleeding color all over your best white shirt are blue jeans and red socks.

Although we know not to wash our denim garments with white clothing, red items can get overlooked. Because of this, the color red is often associated with being the pigment or shade that bleeds the most.

Red dyes used in the commercial manufacture of garments are less colorfast than other shades, simply because white clothes turning pink is more common than light blue.

The answer is probably less dramatic than that. It’s more likely to be the fact that denim clothing tends to be larger. Due to the nature of a denim weave, they can also be heavier. Things like shirts, jackets, and jeans are easily spotted in a laundry basket full of dirty clothes.

They can be pulled out before they reach the washing machine. With a potential color run crisis averted, the white shirt already at the bottom of the drum is saved. So too are the white socks and undergarments.

To a certain extent, the same is true for red jeans. As they are heavier than other items in your laundry, they can be removed from the wash before any harm is done. The problem starts when you have smaller items that are red. Socks, undergarments, t-shirts, and even your favorite red dress, for instance.

These items are smaller, lighter, and easily hidden among other garments crumpled in your laundry basket. When you grab a load, it’s easy to miss that single red sock entwined with the sleeve of your white sweater.

An accent on a garment or a decorative hint of red can also be overlooked. That red flap on the pocket of your white shirt is going to cause a problem too. Especially if you wash it at the wrong heat. Red clothing can be as colorfast as any other garment, but if you wash it at too high a temperature, that color is likely to bleed.

It’s not just red clothes getting thrown in with a load of white washing either. Sometimes, white clothing can be too small to fish out of the wash before it gets to the machine. Even if you’ve sorted out all your red garments, there’s always the risk of a solitary white sock hitching a ride with your red pants.

When red dye mixes with the white pigment in clothing, you get a lighter shade of red. This is why your white garment turns pink.

How to Get Pink Out of White Clothes

White shirt turned pink

Before we get into the remedies for getting pink out of white clothes, there are a couple of things you need to think about. The first is that although it is possible to remove color bleed stains, it’s not guaranteed. Your success depends on the fiber content of your clothing and the type of dye that has run into them.

Secondly, it depends on how soon you realize there was a color run. If your garment has been through the dryer, the chances of removing the dreaded pink blotches will reduce significantly.

In this section, we’ll take a look at some chemical solutions to removing pink stains from white clothes. Check your garment care label before embarking on a color-removing treatment. Some fabrics can be damaged by chemical products.

1. Oxygen Bleach

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder, 7.22 lbsOne of the ingredients in oxygen bleach is hydrogen peroxide. Considered to be safe to use on most fabrics, this type of bleach is less caustic than its chlorine-based cousin.

However, you still need to do a spot check before using it. Even though it is considered OK to use, some materials may have adverse reactions.

You will need:

  • Oxygen bleach
  • Bucket
  • Laundry tongs
  • Cold water
  • Washing Machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Add 1 cup of oxygen bleach to a bucket of cold water. The water needs to be deep enough to completely submerge your garment.

Step 2

Put your white clothing in the bucket and stir with your laundry tongs. Leave it in there for about 30 minutes. Check the progress after the time is up. If you can still see traces of pink, leave the garment for another 30 minutes.

Step 3

When you are happy all traces of pink staining have been removed, wash your garment. You can wash it as you would normally using your regular laundry detergent. Allow the clothing to air dry.

2. Rit Color Remover

Rit Color Remover, 2 Ounce (Pack of 1)RIT Color Remover is a commercial product designed to remove the color from fabric. It can be used to remove accidental color runs. This color remover is a reductive bleach and free from chlorine. It’s less damaging to textiles. The product can be used on wool, silk, cotton, linen, and some synthetics.

Before committing to treatment with Rit Color Remover always do a spot check. Choose an inconspicuous area of the garment to assess how the fabric will react.

You will need:

  • Rit Color Remover
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry tongs
  • Stove top
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Fill your stainless steel pot with water. There needs to be enough to cover the garment. Your pot should be big enough for the garment to be able to move around. Put the pot on your stovetop and bring it to a boil.

Step 2

Reduce the temperature, so the water achieves a low simmer. Add your packet of color remover and stir the mix with your laundry tongs. You could use a wooden spoon for this. Keep the temperature of the water at a simmer.

Step 3

Your garment needs to be wet before you treat it. You can either hand wash it with dish soap or dunk it into a bucket of water. The one you choose depends on how dirty the item is. If it’s clean already, just a quick soak in water will suffice.

Step 4

Once wet, add your garment to the stainless steel pot. Stir it with your laundry tongs. You should see the color coming out within 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and remove the garment when you can see the color run has gone. This could take as long as 20 minutes.

Step 5

Rinse thoroughly in water. Keep rinsing and changing the water until it runs clear. Use warm water first and gradually reduce the temperature of the water to cold.

Step 6

Wash the garment as you would normally. Use your regular detergent. When the wash cycle has finished, let your clothing air dry.

3. Dye the Clothing White

If the pink color bleed stains are set into the fabric, you may have to think outside the box. Color runs can become permanent, particularly if the clothing has been through the dryer before you spotted the stains.

The best way to deal with set-in pink blotches, or even an all-over pink tinge, is to redye the garment white. Choose a dye suitable for the fabric content of your clothing and follow the directions on the packaging.

You could even turn the pinkness into part of a tie-dye effect. In this instance, you don’t necessarily have to stick with white dye. You could go for a rainbow of different shades. An accidental color run can go from ruining your garment to making it a unique fashion statement.

However, it is to be noted here that not all fabrics can be dyed. Polyester is especially problematic to dye at home. You might find using fabric paint would offer a better solution.

How to Fix White Clothes That Turned Pink Without Bleach

When your white shirt turns pink, it can be tempting to reach for the chlorine bleach. A quick dip in bleach will return your white shirt to its original brilliance, right? Well, no, not necessarily.

Although chlorine bleach does remove color, it’s not fussy about the color it removes. It could strip all the color of your garment, even the whiteness.

For synthetic materials, this could be devastating. Some synthetic fibers start life with a yellow hue. They are overdyed white to make them look attractive. Chlorine bleach will take the white color out of synthetics and turn your white shirt yellow. Or worse, it could reduce the garment to a dingy gray.

That’s not all. Chlorine bleach could cause the garment to deteriorate before your eyes. Bleach can melt some textiles.

In this section, I’ll show you some alternatives to bleach. These are natural solutions to color runs caused by non-colorfast garments. The good news is that these remedies are less likely to damage your clothing.

1. Rewash the Clothing

Don’t underestimate the cleaning power of your detergent! If you’ve spotted the color run as soon as your wash cycle has ended, you might not need any special color removers.

You will need:

  • Your washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent
  • Borax

Step 1

Remove all the clothing from your washing machine and ensure it is empty. You don’t want to rewash your white shirt with that pesky red sock again! Add your usual laundry detergent and put your white garment back in the drum. Don’t dry it first. Put it back in the wash while it is still wet.

Step 2

Rewash your garment. Wash it as you would normally using the normal settings for that garment. Add a ¼ cup of borax to the wash for an added boost. This will give your detergent extra stain-busting power.

Step 3

Check the garment once the wash cycle has finished. The pinkness should have gone. If any signs of pink remain, repeat step 2. Once you are happy, all traces of pink have been removed from your white shirt, air dry the garment. Don’t use the dryer. If you do, any pink bits you’ve missed will be set permanently into the clothing.

2. Distilled White Vinegar

VinegarDistilled white vinegar is a tasty additive for chips, but it’s also an effective stain and color remover. As it’s a natural product, it is less damaging than bleach on textiles. It’s also a lot safer for you!

However, distilled white vinegar does have one disadvantage. In its eagerness to eat stains and banish pink color runs, it can strip the color you want to keep. Make sure you only use vinegar on colorfast garments. Otherwise, you could end up with no color in your clothing at all.

You will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Sink or large bucket
  • Cotton wool balls

Step 1

Test your garment to make sure it’s colorfast. Soak a cotton wool ball in the vinegar and rub it on the garment. Make sure you do this in an inconspicuous area. If the cotton wool stays clean, with no traces of color, then the garment is colorfast.

Step 2

Add 1 cup of vinegar to a sink full of water and stir. The water needs to be high enough to cover the garment. You can use a bucket if you don’t have a big enough sink. Add your garment and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. Ensure the garment is fully submerged.

Step 3

Rinse the garment with cold water. Check it over to see any residual signs of color bleed. If there are, repeat the vinegar soak. Once you are happy the pinkness has all gone, wash your garment as you would normally. Leave it to air dry.

3. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a form of citric acid. Not only is it a refreshing drink, but it can also clean your kitchen and eliminate stains. Because it’s acidic, it can bleach the color out of fabric and add a boost to the whiteness of white clothing.

Again, make sure the garment is colorfast before using this method. You’ll also want to make sure it can withstand being submerged in hot water. This remedy is not suitable for polyester fabrics.

You will need:

  • Lemon juice
  • Large bucket
  • Hot water
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Fill a large bucket with 1 gallon of hot water and add ½ cup of lemon juice. If you are using real lemons rather than juice, you’ll need to squeeze 4-5 lemons.

Step 2

Put your white garment in the bucket and leave it to soak overnight. Stir it occasionally to make sure all the fabric has come into contact with the lemon water.

Step 3

Wash your garment as you would normally using your regular detergent. When the wash cycle has finished, check your clothing for residual stains. If there are some, repeat the lemon soak. Otherwise, allow your garment to air dry. Don’t dry the clothing using your dryer, as this could permanently set any remaining pinkness.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen PeroxideIf you are looking at removing traces of pink color bleed from specific areas, hydrogen peroxide could be just the ticket. This method works better on the odd spot here and there rather than on the whole garment.

Hydrogen peroxide may be safe for skin and hair, but it is still a form of bleach. As such, it still has the power to damage some materials. Always test a small area before committing your garment to a full treatment.

You will need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Cardboard
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Lay your garment on a flat surface and put the cardboard inside it. The cardboard needs to be underneath the area you want to treat. It will soak up the hydrogen peroxide and color, so it doesn’t seep into the other side of the garment.

Step 2

Apply hydrogen peroxide to the area with a soaked cotton wool ball. The dye stain should lift out of the white garment and onto the cotton ball. As soon as the dye seeps into the cotton wool, change to a clean ball. Keep going until all the dye has transferred to the cotton wool balls.

Step 3

Rinse out the hydrogen peroxide under cold running water. Put your garment in your washing machine and wash as normal. Your regular detergent is fine for this. Don’t put any other garment in the machine. Any remaining dye could soak into the other clothes. Once the cycle has completed, air dry your garment.

4. Baking Soda

Baking sodaBaking soda is one of those products that has a multitude of uses. Stain removal is just one of them. This solution is best for random spot stains rather than treating a whole garment.

You will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Teaspoon
  • Warm water
  • Large bowl
  • Cardboard
  • Washing Machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Mix the warm water and baking soda into a paste. It needs to have a thick consistency but be easy to spread.

Step 2

Lay your garment on a flat surface and put the cardboard inside it. The cardboard is to stop the color bleed stain from being pushed through the clothing to the other side. It needs to be big enough to fit under all of the stained areas.

Step 3

Using the back of your teaspoon, paint the stain with the baking soda paste until it’s completely covered. Leave it to dry overnight.

Step 4

When it’s dry, scrape the baking soda off into a sink. Then wash your garment as you would normally. Use your regular washing detergent but set your machine to a cool setting.

Step 5

Check your garment when the washing cycle ends. All traces of the pink stain should be gone. If they haven’t, repeat the baking soda paste treatment. Otherwise, air dry your garment. Don’t use the dryer, as this will set any remaining residual pinkness deeper into the clothing.

How to Prevent White Clothes From Turning Pink

The best way to prevent your white clothes from turning pink is not to wash them with red garments. Or at least keep them away from red objects that aren’t colorfast.

Before you wash any garment, always read the care label for instructions on the best way to look after that item. You might find your red socks are colorfast as long as they are washed at a low temperature. Most laundry hiccups are caused by not reading the care label and washing the garment with the wrong settings.

If sorting your laundry isn’t possible. Whether you don’t have enough white garments for a full load or are in a rush, color catchers could be your salvation. Color catchers do exactly what their name suggests. They catch the color runs and stop them from reaching your white shirt. Add one to every load and you’ll never have to worry about color bleeds.

Sorting the laundry can take time. But, if you have separate laundry baskets for different colors, your whole family can get on board with the sifting. Simply throw the colored items into their respective basket and voila! Your laundry is sorted before you get anywhere near the washing machine.

Conclusion

Pink color runs on your white clothing can be annoying. But, they don’t have to ruin your garment. When they occur, treat them with a color remover. You can use a commercial product or distilled white vinegar. To prevent them from happening, try using color catchers with every load of washing.

Have your whites turned pink in the wash? How did you treat them? What method did you use? Let me know in the comments.