How to Remove Colors That Ran in the Wash

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Laundry accidents can happen to anyone. Rule number one when it comes to laundry: separate dark colors from light colors. However, you may inadvertently mix dark- and light-colored items, or you may take a risk thinking a certain color won't run in the wash. When this happens, light-colored items may take on some of the color that ran from the darker-colored items. Luckily, you can easily reverse this, and your light-colored items will return to their original color.

Soak your laundry as quickly as possible after you notice the color runs, especially if the laundry is still wet. First, soak the laundry in warm water and laundry detergent for about 30 minutes. Rinse, and check the results.

Separate laundry into white items and color-fast items. Place the white items into a basin, sink or bowl and add about 1/4 cup of bleach. Let the items soak for no longer than 15 minutes; any longer could cause the fabric to weaken. The bleach should return these items their original white color. Rinse thoroughly with water, and wash in detergent either by hand or in the washing machine and separate these items from the dark-colored items.

Add water and about 1/4 cup of color-safe bleach to the color-fast items. As an alternative, you can use a product for color-bled items. Either product should remove the color that ran onto the items. Let the items soak for about 15 minutes. Rinse, and wash using laundry detergent.

Soak both the white items and the color-fast items separately in a mixture of water and about a cup of white vinegar as an additional, but optional step. White vinegar helps restore the color of discolored clothing.

Repeat any of the steps if necessary if the colors still haven't been restored to your laundry.