Left that red item in a white wash? Here's what to do

left that red item in a white wash
What to do when colours run in the washImage Source - Getty Images

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There’s nothing worse than a bright red sock sneaking into your white laundry pile. Before you know it, everything’s pink! Most of us will have accidentally dyed our laundry at one point or another, whether by over-estimating the colour fastness of new clothing or by losing sight of a rogue sock.

The good news is that there are ways to restore your whites back to their original brightness. Here, we take you through what to do, as well as how to prevent colours from running in the future.

Why do colours run in the wash?

When any non-colourfast items are washed at too high a temperature, the dye bleeds out of the fabric – especially with newer items. This is why it's important to separate loads of washing carefully by colour.

left that red item in a white wash
brizmaker - Getty Images

How to get colour run out of clothes

If you've accidentally dyed your whites, there is a remedy. First, check the item doesn’t have a ‘do not bleach’ symbol on the wash label. This looks like a triangle with a cross through it. If it doesn’t, soak the item in a weak solution of household bleach for 15 minutes, following the instructions on pack. Rinse thoroughly and repeat as necessary.

For lightly coloured items that aren't white, try using a colour-run remover – we recommend Dr Beckmann’s Colour Run Remover. Test on a hidden area first as it may affect the overall colour.

How to prevent colours from running

Wash non-colourfast items on a low temperature washing machine setting with similar-hued items or wash by hand, quickly, in cold water.

To find out if your item is colourfast, wet a small area of the garment with water and then blot with kitchen roll. If any colour comes off on the paper, it’s non-colourfast. Or wet an inside seam and rub with a cotton bud or tissue – again, if any colour transfers it’s non-colourfast.

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