How to Stop Your Clothes from Bleeding Color (Cold Water & Dye Fixative)

Have you ever put on your favorite white shirt only to find it now sporting a pink stain? Or maybe you’ve thrown a red sock into your laundry pile, and now all your clothes have a pink tinge.

You can stop your clothes from bleeding color by washing them in cold water, washing them inside out, using dye fixative, or other methods.

color bleeding
Color bleeding. Credit: canva

It’s frustrating when clothes bleed color, but it’s not the end of the world. You can keep your clothes looking new and vibrant with simple precautions and a little know-how.

How to Prevent and Stop Your Clothes from Bleeding

So, you’ve got a new shirt or dress and don’t want it to bleed color all over your other clothes.

No worries, there’s a simple test you can do to check whether the dye in your clothes is colorfast.

soaking before washing
Credit: canva

Check the Care Label

First, you’ll want to check the care label on your garments before washing them. Always follow the instructions as stated on the tag.

When shopping, take caution when you come across clothing labels with phrases such as “Color May Wash Down,” “Do Not Use Detergent,” or “Turn Inside Out to Launder.” These are signs that the coloring of the garment is likely to bleed in water and should be avoided.

silk care label
Credit: canva

Color Test

Doing these tests before washing your new clothes is always a good idea to avoid any color-bleeding disasters.

With an Iron

One way to test is by using an iron. Press the iron onto the cloth or paper towel for a few seconds.

If the cloth or paper towel comes away with any color on it, the dye is not colorfast, and you’ll want to be extra careful with that garment.

In Soapy Water

Another way to test is by using soapy water. Fill a bowl with water and add a drop or two of a mild detergent. Gently rub the area you want to test with a white cloth, then check the fabric for any color.

washing in water
Credit: canva

Hand Wash Separately

Start by washing items separately before wearing them for the first time. This will help remove any excess dye before it can stain other clothing or your skin.

Fill a bucket or sink with cold water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the item in the cold soapy mixture and gently swirl it around for a few minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly in cold running water until all the soap is gone.

Credit: canva

Use Salt or Vinegar (or Not)

Both salt and vinegar are natural and relatively inexpensive alternatives to commercial fabric dye fixatives, so they can be a great way to try and prevent color bleeding. However, they are only effective during the dyeing process.

Unfortunately, neither method are effective and reliable in preventing dye bleeding from clothes or fabrics that have already been commercially dyed.

Use Cold Water

If possible, use cold water instead of hot. Hot water can cause dyes to bleed faster since they can break down the dyes. Cold water also doesn’t activate heat-sensitive dyes, so it’s less likely to cause color bleeding.

We always recommend cold water for maintaining color and brightness in clothes. And it’s also better for the environment since it saves energy.

Inside Out

Always turn your clothes inside out before washing them.

Dye Fixative

These products can be found in most fabric care departments or craft stores. They may take a bit of extra effort, but it’s worth it for preventing color bleeding and ruining your clothes.

And also, make sure to read the care label on your clothes, as some fabrics may not be suitable for using dye fixative.

Color Catcher

A color catcher sheet is typically made of a unique material that is designed to absorb any loose dyes that may be present in your laundry. The sheet is placed in your washing machine and your clothes and catches any dye that may be released during the wash, preventing it from transferring onto other garments.

Color catchers are an affordable and easy way to prevent color bleeding, and they can be found in most stores that sell laundry detergents and supplies.

Sort with Similar Colors

Finally, sorting your laundry by color and fabric type is always a good idea. That way, you won’t have a load full of pink socks!

It would be best if you also considered separating light-colored items from dark-colored items when doing laundry, as this will help prevent any potential for color bleeding.

And try to avoid washing items with multiple colors together, as this can cause color bleeding and discoloration.

How to Wash White Clothes

white dress tie dye 2
Credit: canva

 Washing white clothes can be a bit tricky because, well, you want them to stay white! But don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as you think.

Here’s a quick guide on how to wash your whites:

  1. Sort your whites: Make sure to separate your whites from your colored clothes because whites can pick up colors from other clothes in the wash.
  2. Check the care label: Always check the care label on your white clothes before washing. Some whites may be delicate or require special care.
  3. Use the suitable detergent: For whites, you’ll want to use a specifically designed detergent. These detergents often have brightening agents that help keep your whites looking bright and clean.
  4. Use hot water: Hot water is usually best for whites, as it can help remove dirt and stains more effectively. If your clothes are delicate, check the care label to see if hot water is recommended.
  5. Add a bleach alternative: If your whites are looking a bit yellow or gray, you can add a bleach alternative, such as hydrogen peroxide, to the wash to help brighten them up.
  6. Dry your whites properly: Avoid drying them in direct sunlight, which can cause yellowing. Tumble dry on low heat and remove clothes from the dryer while still damp to avoid wrinkles and shrinkage.
  7. Take care of stains: If you notice a stain on your white clothes before washing, treat it with a stain remover or laundry detergent before tossing it in the machine.

With these tips, your whites will come out of the wash looking clean and bright.

How to Remove Color Run and Bleeding from Clothes

Color run or bleeding can be a real bummer, but don’t worry; there are ways to remove the stains and fix the problem.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Act fast: The sooner you address a color run or bleeding stain, the better your chances of removing it.
  2. Determine the type of fabric: Different fabrics require different methods for removing color runs or bleeding, so it’s important to know what you’re working with.
  3. Use a color remover: If the stain is still fresh, you can try using a color remover to lift the dye out of the fabric. Follow the instructions on the product, but be aware that color removers can bleach or damage some materials.
  4. Use a solution of white vinegar and water: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to dab the affected area gently. The vinegar will help set the color and remove any excess dye.
  5. Use a stain remover: Try a stain remover or laundry detergent on the affected area before washing. Test a small, inconspicuous area before treating the entire garment.
  6. Re-wash the clothes: Re-wash the clothes in cold water once you’ve treated the stain. Use a color catcher sheet in the wash to prevent further bleeding.
  7. Dry the clothes: Avoid drying in direct sunlight, as it can cause yellowing. Tumble dry on low heat and remove clothes from the dryer while still damp to avoid wrinkles and shrinkage.
  8. Repeat the process if needed: If the stain is still present after washing and drying, you may need to repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.

Keep in mind that these methods may not always work. It’s always a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area before attempting any remedies on your clothes.


Do black clothes bleed?

When new, black clothes can bleed onto lighter colors. This is because the dye used to color black clothes can be unstable and may transfer onto other fabrics.

Will these clothes bleed color onto other items in the washing machine?

No, the fabric used for these clothes is dyed with high-quality, colorfast dyes that will not bleed onto other clothing items.

Can I safely hand wash these clothes without worrying about color bleeding?

Yes, as long as you use cool water and a gentle detergent, you can safely hand wash these clothes without worrying about color bleeding.

Can I dry these clothes in the dryer without fear of color bleeding?

You can safely dry these clothes in the dryer without fear of color bleeding.

Will soaking these clothes in vinegar or salt help prevent color bleeding?

No, soaking the clothes in vinegar or salt will not prevent color bleeding.

Can I bleach these clothes without causing them to bleed color?

No, bleaching may cause the colors in these clothes to bleed and should be avoided unless expressly stated on the care label.

Will hanging these clothes outside in direct sunlight cause them to bleed color?

It’s not a guarantee, but it’s generally recommended that you avoid hanging clothes outside in direct sunlight if you want to preserve their color. The sun can cause colors to fade and bleed, so it’s best to hang clothes in a shady spot or indoors whenever possible.

Are there any special steps I should take when ironing these clothes to prevent color bleeding?

Following the care instructions on the label and using a low heat setting should prevent any potential issues with color bleeding when ironing these clothes. 

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