CLMitchell's background is in psychology, human resources, management, research, and the health industry.
Why Do Fabrics Bleed, Crock, and Fade?
Firstly, let’s begin with the basic terminology.
Crocking is the color transfer that occurs when fabric rubs against something, such as furniture, shoes, or skin. This happens when the dye has not properly adhered to the fabric.
Color bleed occurs when the fabric gets wet, and dye leaches out of the fibers. This commonly occurs in the washing machine and can result in color transfer between items in the load.
Color fading is when the fabric has lost much of its dye and therefore lacks vibrancy and depth.
There are a number of reasons for the dye to crock, bleed, and fade. For example:
- Poor quality dye
- Incorrect dying technique
- Incorrect dye used for the type of fabric (not all dyes work on all kinds of fabrics)
- An excess of dye left in the product because the item was not properly rinsed out during the dying process
- The manufacturer has not used fixer or ‘mordant’ to bind the dye to the fabric
- The mordant has washed out of the fabric due to prolonged hot washing and so is no longer holding the dye to the fibers
- Wear and tear: friction between fabrics that can cause micro-breakages in the fibers and lead to the release of dye
- Bleaching, which can be caused by the fabric's exposure to bleaching products, heat, and/or sun.
What Is a Mordant?
A mordant is a substance that is used to set dyes on fabrics.
How to Prevent Fabric Color Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading
A common myth circulating the internet is that washing the item in either vinegar or salt “sets” the dye and prevents it from running. Unfortunately, this is not true. Although vinegar does help set some acid dyes, it only works during the dyeing process and not for cotton dyes. Similarly, salt is used in the dying process to encourage the fiber to take the dye, but it will not stop the color from running or crocking after the garment has been dyed. If you tried salt and it appeared to work, it's only because the additional washing has removed the last bits of the unattached dye. The only real ways to prevent color transferring and fading are the following:
- Treat your fabrics with a color fixative. I use Retayne or Rit Dye Fixative as they reduce color bleeding in fabrics where the dye has not been properly fixed or washed out. These dye fixatives can "fix" these loose dyes and prevent further color bleeding in your fabrics. They are particularly popular with quilters in order to reduce bleeding between the patches of fabric. However, be aware that they are not very effective on polyester and acrylic materials.
- Do loads of laundry that are the same color and be aware that it’s not just new clothes that run. The chemical fixers or mordants used to hold the dye to the fiber can wear off after repeated washing, so always wash similar colors together to prevent color run, regardless of the age of the garment and how many times you may have washed it before.
- Many of us over-wash our clothes for fear of been seen as dirty or smelly, but with delicate clothes, you should try to wash as little as necessary. Before washing an item, ask yourself: “Is it really dirty, and does it really need to be washed?” If it only has an odor, try airing it or using an odor eliminating product like Febreze. If it’s only dirty in a small area, then spot clean it.
- Wash with cool or cold water. Hot water tends to open up the fibers of the fabric which encourages the dye to escape and run. If you live in a very cold area, the water may get too cold during the winter so set the washer to “warm” 30ºC (86ºF). Make sure you are using a detergent that is designed to perform in cold water.
- The friction that occurs during a wash cycle can cause micro-breakages in the fibers and lead to the release of dye. This is one of the reasons why you see fading in fabrics over time. You can minimize this friction by washing heavy items like jeans in a load together. Also, fasten zippers and hooks and turn items inside out. This is particularly effective with jeans.
- For clothes that fade quickly (like jeans), use a short wash or a gentle cycle to help reduce friction.
- I use Shout Color Catcher Sheets in my wash as they are designed to absorb and trap loose dyes. But be aware that they are not completely fail safe. Washing with like colors is the only way to prevent color transfer.
- Don’t leave wet clothes in a pile or sitting in the machine for too long as this gives the colors time to leach out.
- Since the sun can act as a bleach, dry your clothes in the shade and try not to use the dryer.
- If your garment has bled heavily and become discolored despite following the care instructions, then you should consider returning the item for a refund.
- For faded clothes with plenty of wear left in them, try re-dying using the home dye kits that are available.
Simply by turning my clothes inside out during both the washing and drying process and using cool water, there is a significant color difference between the inside and outside of my clothes. The inside becomes much more faded than the outside. This process helps maintain vibrancy much longer, greatly extending the life of my garments.
Does Vinegar and Salt Prevent Colors From Crocking?
No. This is a myth. With certain fabrics it does help during the dying process itself, but not afterward, once the dye has supposedly set.
Color Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading in Jeans
I’m sure we've all had those embarrassing and frustrating experiences when jeans have crocked blue onto our legs and hands. I've had many clothes and shoes ruined (even my favorite cream knee-high Ugg boots), not to mention the mortifying moment when I realized that I had dyed my friend’s expensive white couch blue.
The indigo dye used in blue jeans is applied using a purposely inferior dyeing practice called ring dyeing. This method only affects the outer ring of the cotton fiber, leaving the core white, so after a small amount of wear and tear, this top layer of dyed fiber wears off to expose the white inside. This enables us to “wear in" our jeans and achieve the perfect worn look. This method is also used in jeans that are sold as pre-washed or pre-worn because it’s easy to create an instant age effect using a little abrasion.
The downside to all of this, of course, is that it makes the jeans crock and bleed.
A recent desire for unfaded jeans has not necessarily led to a change in the manufacturers' dyeing processes, and many dark jeans are poorly dyed. This is partly due to the fact that indigo is a difficult dye to work with, especially for cotton (it works better with wool and silk). This is because it needs repeated applications in multiple dye baths using the correct equipment, techniques, and a good understanding of chemistry. Due to these complexities, it is often done poorly.
Ultimately, this means that unless your jeans were dyed correctly, then some crocking and fading are bound to occur, no matter what you do.
Denim Fade Types
Tate-ochi or “vertical falling” is the forming of faded vertical lines. This occurs when the thread width is not uniform. The color fades most where the thread is the thickest, and that thread creates a white line.
Atari is the term used to describe the fading that occurs on your jeans with age. But it doesn’t stop there—the fading that appears in each part of the jeans has its own terminology:
- Thigh and crotch wear: Whiskers
- Ankle wear: Stacks
- Back of knees wear: Honeycombs
How to Prevent Jeans From Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading
Earlier in this article, I warned against washing fabrics in hot water, as this can accelerate fading. However, for new jeans, place the jeans in a very hot wash to remove the unattached particles of dye. Set the washing machine's temperature setting to its highest (usually 60ºC or 140ºF). This will only help if the dyeing was done reasonably well.
Of course, this won’t help preserve the original dark color of the denim and may in fact accelerate its loss, so only do this for the first wash.
Can I Use a Fixative?
Fixatives may not work on denim. Products like Retayne work well on many types of dye, but not on the indigo used on most denim.
The only way that fixatives can help is if your jeans have been dyed using direct dye, another kind of cotton dye. It can also work with fiber-reactive dye that has not been properly fixed to the fabric. Unfortunately, there is usually no way of knowing what kind of dye was used, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Fixatives are more likely to help in cases where the denim has been dyed other colors such as a blue-black, black, green, or brown.
Unfortunately, there is no way to make the indigo in jeans stay dark forever. The only way to prevent the indigo from fading is to apply it correctly in the first place. However, the color will stay darker longer if you always wash your jeans following the instructions as discussed above. When your jeans have lost too much color, you could also consider re-dying them using Rit's Denim Blue dye. For darker, blue/black coloured jeans, you can achieve a similar color by mixing Rit's Denim Blue dye with their standard black dye. These dyes tend to work best with cotton jeans.
How to Remove Color Run and Bleeding From Fabrics
First of all, don't panic. There are a number of steps that can be taken before the item is relegated to the “can only wear around the house” pile. Be aware that dark clothing utilizes dark dyes that can be especially difficult to remove.
- Don’t toss the stained item aside to deal with later because when it dries, the dye “sets,” making it very difficult to remove.
- Treat the item with color safe oxygen bleach (don't mistake this for chlorine bleach).
- Make a solution of ½ scoop of oxy bleach to 2 cups of warm water. You may need to make a greater quantity if you have a number of affected items.
- Spread this concentrated mix over the stained areas and allow it to penetrate for 5 minutes.
- While your items are soaking, dissolve two additional scoops of the oxy bleach powder into a bucket with a little warm water.
- Once dissolved, stir in 4 liters (1 gallon) of cool water and place the items into the bucket to soak for one to five hours, depending on how heavily stained they are.
- This process may need to be repeated if not all traces of dye have been removed.
What to Look for When Shopping
- Feel the cloth's texture before purchasing. Does it feel kind of stiff and crunchy? This indicates that there may be excess dye left in the fabric. Be aware that you will need to wash this item several times to remove the excess dye and that this could leave it a lighter color.
- Read the label for warning words such as “Turn inside out to launder,” “Wash in cold water,” and “Color may fade.” These are signs that the manufacturer knows the dyes are unstable. This doesn’t just apply to dark fabrics—these warnings can appear on a range of fabrics and colors because it’s dependent on what type of dye process was used. This shouldn’t prevent you from buying the item, but at least you will know what to expect.
- Fabrics like polyester and jersey knits are usually more resistant to bleeding than more delicate materials. The fabrics least likely to run are those made of synthetics, because the color is added to the fibers while they are being created.
Crews, Patricia Cox. Effectiveness of Dye Setting Treatments on Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Direct, Reactive, and Vat Dyes. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 7(4) Summer 1989, 1-7.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I bought a peach and purple tote in the USA that was made in India. It felt a little stiff and it rubbed color on to my clothes. It also bleeds when damp. I followed the "hand wash cold" instructions, but even the third bucket full of water had dye. Do I toss it? Do I worry about being exposed to heavy metals?
Answer: Unfortunately, many of the material items purchased in India are prone to running. It's usually because it has been poorly dyed. If the tote is made of a natural material like cotton, then you could try treating it with a colour fixative such as Retayne which I refer to in my article.
Question: Why do you say using vinegar on cotton is a myth? That is incorrect. Vinegar is necessary. However, there's more involved than just adding vinegar. Are you a professional dyer?
Answer: You can learn more by reading this research paper: Crews, Patricia Cox. Effectiveness of Dye Setting Treatments on Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Direct, Reactive, and Vat Dyes. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 7(4) Summer 1989, 1-7.
Question: I bought some dark blue cotton cloth north of Vietnam a while ago. I am pretty sure that it is indigo. It colored some clothes in contact with my suitcase. How can I fix the material so that I can use it as a bedspread or wall hanging? I would be grateful for specific advice on the product to use and times of soaking and washing.
Answer: Colour fixatives like Retayne, which I mention in my article, actually work best on cotton, so it is definitely worth trying on your dark blue cotton cloth.
Question: I have a maroon electric blanket that turned my white sheets pink. I have been soaking them in bleach and cold water. That’s gotten some of it out. Will washing it in hot water with bleach help, or cause the stain to set?
Answer: Not sure whether you have been using oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach but just use warm water. Anyhow, if you are not having much luck, here are some more ideas on getting your whites whiter https://howbeautifullifeis.com/10-ways-to-whiten-a... Bluing products such as Mrs. Stewarts Bluing, Bluette and Reckitt’s might be worth trying.
Question: How can I deal with a chair that has fabric that rubs off color?
Answer: Good upholstery fabrics should crock very little. There is not a lot you can do to fix poorly dyed upholstery. There are color fixatives that can be applied to the material; the Rit Color Stay Dye Fabric Fixative I mention in the article above comes in an easy spray bottle. But they all require you to rinse the product out; if the fabric can't be removed, this could be very difficult to do. Also, it will depend on what type of material the upholstery is, as color fixatives don't tend to work well on polyesters.
Question: My wife bought some stretch jeans that are very dark blue. She has now washed them a half dozen times and they still both crock and bleed. She is not concerned about the color fading, just about it transferring. Since they are stretch jeans is it worth trying the Retayne?
Answer: Unfortunately there is no way of knowing other than trying it. Retayne works well on cotton and the jeans will likely have a reasonably small percent of elastane to make them stretchy which shouldn’t affect it from working too much. However, if they are bleeding due to poor dying methods, then the Retayne won’t work. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing other than giving it a go. It is a handy product to have in the cupboard to use again though, so not a complete waste of money.
Question: I have tie-dyed red white and blue bathing suit cover-ups that came from out of state as a gift. The white is now grey. I tried vinegar I tried Oxsee bleach in the wash but not soaking in a bucket. Should I just throw them away?
Answer: It's worth trying if the only other outcome is to get rid of them. You have nothing to lose. Use cool water. It could make it worse, but could fix it
Question: At a camp I just attended they used Sharpie brand permanent markers to dye prewashed cotton t-shirts and tennis shoes (white only). Then you poured 91% alcohol over the designs to make it spread and run a bit. Will Vinegar and/or salt help stabilize those dyes? Some have said they have just faded badly without trying stabilize the ink.
Answer: I don't think vinegar, salt or material colour fixatives used in the dying process would work.
You can buy special art fixative sprays, but I have no experience of using this on clothing so I'm not so sure it would help sorry. It would likely just wash off.
Question: I've purchasd a pink trilobal clothing item washed it twice colour washed onto white clothing item. What can i do to prevent this from happening in future?
Answer: It depends on what the type of material it is, as color fixatives such as Retayne only work on natural fabrics like cotton. Some items have been improperly dyed, so this cannot be prevented.
Question: I bought a black, velvet dress from a company overseas (it's a replica from White Christmas) and noticed the color is transferring to my skin. Can you recommend a product or service to try to set the color? I'm going to be hugged a lot while wearing this dress and I would be mortified if my dress rubbed off on people (clothing, skin, etc.)
Answer: Have you tried getting in cleaned (following the label instructions) to remove any excess dye? Unfortunately colour fixatives only work on natural materials such as cotton, so are not likely to work.
Question: I’m worried about washing my denim in 95 degree Celsius hot water. Won’t that shrink the denim?
Answer: You can put your denim in a cooler 60 degree Celsius wash. Cotton jeans usually shrink a bit in the wash, but they usually stretch out as you wear them.
Question: I have a grey golf t-shirt with some oil marks on it. I used sunlight bar to remove the oil but has now left the t-shirt with white marks on it. How can I fix that?
Answer: Are they soap marks or has it removed/bleached the dye? You can try soaking the t-shirt in some diluted oxygen bleach, but if it has been colour bleached, then you will only be able to fix it by re-dying it.
Question: I have a client who says our black trenchcoat that she purchased (that we make by hand) has been transferring dark color onto her white blouse that she wore once. I’m inclined to think it is because her under arm sweat or deodorant is oxidizing with the color and fabric of the trenchcoat while wearing. It’s a synthetic textile mixed with cotton but we’ve not ever had this problem before with any of our garments and we’ve been making clothes for 10 years. Any suggestions?
Answer: Do you think there might have been a change to the material that you purchase from your supplier? Maybe the way that it is dyed? Have you tried testing the material yourself to see if you can recreate the colour transfer? Is the transfer only occurring in the armpit area? A material should be able to withstand some sweat without bleeding.
Question: My maroon dress pants (63% polyester, 33% viscose, 4% elastane), which were washed about 2-3x without issue, have either faded or received bleach damage from leftover remnants in my washing machine. It’s hard to tell if it’s due to fading or bleach, but on various parts of the pants, the maroon color is a shade or two lighter and splotchy. My questions are: how do I know if it’s bleach or fade, and can anything be done to restore them?
Answer: It's hard for me to know without seeing them, but that fact that it is splotchy would suggest bleach caused it. You won't be able to restore the color, so your only option is to re-dye them.
Question: I am planning to dye some old couch covers that have severely faded. I think they are denim, but as they are second hand, I cannot be entirely certain. If I use a Rit dye and a fixative, will they be okay? I don't want to accidentally create a couch that rubs off on my guests.
Answer: If you use a good quality dye that's made for the type of material you are dying, and you carefully follow the instructions, then you shouldn't have a problem with crocking. However, if you want to be on the cautious side, a dye fixative should work on your natural material couch cover.
Question: I have bought a pair of black denim but the colour bleeds a lot and transfers onto other clothes and tops despite washing it. What is the best way to fix it and can redyeing help as a solution?
Answer: You could try a colour fixative product like Retayne which I mention in this article. It usually works quite well on cotton denim. However, eventually it will fade (as jeans do), and at that point, you can easily redye them to make them blacker again. As long as you use a quality dye and follow the instructions, it shouldn't wash out too quickly and bleed.
Question: I recently bought a number of Batik dyed items in the Caribbean. To be safe, I hand-washed them but the colour bleed is never-ending. The fabric is rayon & they are all deep/bright colours. Is there anything you can suggest?
Answer: You could try using a colour fixative such as the ones mentioned in this article. It sounds like they were not dyed correctly.
Question: My synthetic black leggings are dry crocking, regardless of brand. What should I do?
Answer: This is a bit strange, as synthetic leggings don't usually have problems with dry crocking. Are you using some kind of moisturizer on your legs that might be causing the color to come out of your leggings?
Unfortunately, because of the type of material they are, a color fixative product is not going to work on your leggings. Check the label whether they will cope with a hot wash in case it is just excess dye from the dyeing process that can be washed out.
Question: I bought a purse made in Guatemala. It has a leather bottom and top trim, along with leather straps. The middle part is a woven fabric, different shades of red. The red dye transfers whenever I use the purse. I can’t wash it because of the leather trim. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: What type of material is the lining? Retyane & color fixatives only really work well on natural fibers.
There are color fixatives that can be applied to the material (the Rit Color Stay Dye Fabric Fixative I mention in my article comes in an easy spray bottle), but they all require you to rinse the product out which might be tricky for you. Leather usually copes with some water, but don't soak it.
Question: Our recently purchased sensory swing is 80% polyester and 20% lycra, machine washable up to 86°F. It's dark blue and crocking, though not seeming to bleed in the wash. We've already tried a vinegar soak, to no avail. What are our best options for minimizing or eliminating the crocking?
Answer: Unfortunately, color fixative products don't work well on non-natural fibers, and you have already attempted to wash out excess dyes. It sounds like the material wasn't dyed properly. Are you able to return it?
Question: I have new bath towels that are mostly white with a dark blue band at each end. How can I prevent the blue from bleeding into the white?
Answer: If the colour runs, then this would indicate poorly dyed towels, so you really need to decide whether you want to keep them or not. If you really want them, and don't mind spending additional money on them, then you can treat them with a colour fixative like retayne.
Question: My makeup leaves permanent stains on washcloths. How can I prevent this?
Answer: You can apply liquid dish soap to the stain. You can then soak it is oxygen bleach. Make sure you use a laundry detergent that contains enzymes.
Question: I have comforter from Tommy Hilfiger its blue and the color transfers onto my skin. What to do?
Answer: It depends on what material it is made from. If it is a natural material have you tried hot washing it to remove any excess dye? You can also try treating it with a colour fixative such as Retayne.
Question: I sewed some peach colored cotton tape to a black polyester bag. After a test wash at 30 degrees as per instructions of the bag manufacturer, the tape is discolored. How could I solve this when making more bags? Would a polyester tape pick up less of the loose dye?
Answer: Unfortunately, color bleeding can happen onto all materials both cotton and polyester; it is dependent on how it was dyed. Is it the bag that is bleeding or the cotton tape? Colour fixatives don't work on polyester. If it is the bag that is running, you could try a polyester tape to see if it takes on less dye than the cotton.
Question: How do you stop shoes from fading?
Answer: If they are made from natural material such as cotton, you could try using a color fixative spray. However, if they are fading due to exposure to light, then that won't help them. Instead, you could try a UV protectant spray.
Question: I have a team jersey I washed in warm water. The dark dye (maroon) color faded onto the white letting and trimming. I tried soaking in oxy, white out, rit color removal. Nothing has helped. How can I restore the colors to my jersey? Could this color bleeding be a defect from the company?
Answer: If the top continues to leach color after you have attempted to get any excess dye out then there is likely to be a problem with the way it was dyed and there is not much you can do to fix it. You could try a color fixative to see if it will help.
Question: Is it possible to make my maroon, 100% polyester, electric blanket colorfast? If so, what do you recommend? Also, what about getting pink stains out of white sheets caused by the electric blanket laying on them, not from washing them together?
Answer: Unfortunately colour fixatives don't work very well on polyester. Check the laundry instructions - can you put it through a hot wash to try and remove excess dye? Are you able to return the electric blanket (photos of the damage it has caused to your blanket will help as evidence)? If not, then you might need to just go with it and buy maroon sheets!
Question: I need to remove bad body odor from a colored 100% cotton teeshirt of my husband, what can I use so I don't damage the color?
Answer: Make a paste of baking soda and rub it into the areas affected by body odor. Leave it for half an hour then give it a soak and wash in some oxygen bleach.
Question: What makes the dye bond and adhere to material to retain its colour longer?
Answer: It depends on the type of dye used. Dye can be fixed to the material fibre by absorption, diffusion, or bonding. There are a number of factors that can influence how well a dye adheres to the material. That can include the chemical process, temperature, and the length of time taken to allow the dye to adhere. For example in direct applications dying, a chemical process occurs that makes the dye more soluble so that the fibre can more easily absorb it.
Question: I’ve bought a coat that’s 52% acrylic 45% polyester and 3% recycled wool. How likely is this coat to run or crock? It’s dry clean only. There was one review that said hers had rubbed the red dye onto a white shirt. What can I do to prevent this?
Answer: There is no way of knowing unless you worked in the factory and know how it was dyed and what it was dyed with. Have you tried rubbing it against something like an old white sheet to check if it crocks? Some things crock more if they get wet, so think about that if you get caught out in the rain with it. If you have concerns about it, then maybe you should consider returning it. Colour fixatives don't work well on synthetic materials, so this is not likely to fix it.
Question: I have some cotton quilting fabric that has red roses on a white background (there is more red than white overall). I have it for a rose quilt that has some white in it. I washed it twice with about 5 color catchers in each load, but it absolutely drenched them pink each time. Can I treat my cotton fabric with anything else to prevent it from bleeding on my quilt? I wasn't sure if retayne could be used on two-tone fabrics.
Answer: Retayne works well on natural fibres like cotton. I know that it is very popular with quilters. It won't fix the damage, but should prevent further bleeding.
Question: I had color transfer onto the white cotton portion of a baseball jersey. Tinted it slightly pink. How can I get the white part back to white without damaging the color patches of the garment?
Answer: The problem is if you try to soak the garment to remove the colour from the white parts it will likely just cause further colour transfer. Unless you can isolate the white parts to soak it in some oxygen bleach, then you are not going to be able to fix it. However, using something like Colour Catcher sheets will stop if from getting worse each time you use it.
Question: I am making beeswax food wraps with cotton calico. I am also screen printing with black fabric paint. How do I prevent the fabric from bleeding when I dip in hot beeswax?
Answer: Fabric paint is different than dye so you can't use fixatives. Have you dried it long enough according to the directions? Have you heat set the paint? You can do this by hovering a hot iron above it or iron for 5 minutes on the underside of the fabric. You could also try sticking some removable vinyl over it to protect it.
Question: I bought a scarlet wool coat, and after the worst snowstorm, I had to take it to the dry cleaners due to it picking up salt and road dirt from the car. The cleaners said they specialized in wool products. After they washed it, though, I’ve been having trouble with crocking; everything it touches turns red. I’m having trouble finding a dye fixative that lists wool as one of the fabrics it helps, especially for an already commercially produced product. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Did you take it back to the dry cleaners to discuss the issue with them? I'm not sure what chemicals they used and whether they could have destabilized the dye. However, the problem may not have been caused by the dry cleaning at all, likely the poor dying of the material. Only specialized dyes work well on wool fabrics, and they tend to cost more, so sometimes a poorer quality dye is used by manufacturers.
Unfortunately, color fixatives don't help much with crocking, only with color run/bleeding.
Question: I have several "Signature Denim" skirts from the Orvis catalog--zip front, pockets, very comfortable, that I wear to work. The pockets are fading badly due to friction from my phone and notes placed in them, plus the skirts themselves are fading over time, and are now unavailable. The denim is lighter weight than jeans. Can I try to just re-dye my denim skirts with the Ritz Denim Dye? Will the color be even if some places were more faded to start with?
Answer: Yes, you can redye them. Some color variation can occur when you dye an item with faded parts, just make sure that you follow the instructions so they are dyed thoroughly and properly to reduce this issue.
© 2015 C L Mitchell
C L Mitchell (author) on August 25, 2020:
What are the materials made from? If they are natural materials, then yes, you can use this process of using colour fixatives.
Gammy on August 22, 2020:
I received a gift of 3 different colored authentic beautiful Mexican fabric from Mexico. All 3 are lovely, have many beautiful colors however the fabric is very thin .. I want to make a quilt —-using this fabric as appliqué pieces on the quilt. Could I use your same Ideas/process & product to ensure the appliqué pieces do not bleed when the quilt is washed ??
C L Mitchell (author) on October 23, 2019:
Hi Lizzie, your jeans are likely fading due to wear and tear and washing them rather than being dried n the cupboard.
Lizzie on October 23, 2019:
Why do my jeans fade on the fold line in the cupboard?
Alex on October 03, 2019:
colours keep fading on fabrics i dyed,any home made fixatives that you know can help solve my problem. thanks
C L Mitchell (author) on May 24, 2019:
When dying your jeans, make sure you choose the correct type of dye for denim and follow the instructions. For example, Rit denim dye recommends you follow with their colourstay dye fixative.
After you have dyed them, then follow my instructions in this post to reduce the speed of fading. i.e. only wash them when they are dirty, wash the inside out in cool water and on a short cycle, don't dry them in the sun.
Mark on May 23, 2019:
I am trying to dye my old jeans. I am assuming there is no way to prevent the dyed jeans from fading but is there a way to minimize the fading?
C L Mitchell (author) on January 29, 2019:
Check the washing instructions on the bag. Try giving it a wash (following the instructions) to remove excess dye. If that doesn't work, then a colour fixative that I mention in my article above may work since canvas is a natural fibre.
Kt on January 28, 2019:
I have a maroon canvas sling bag. It stained my shorts as well as my top when I bring it out. It is probably due to friction, what should I do ?
Jenny Cook on October 14, 2018:
I have just dyed a single cotton duvet plus 2 pillow cases pale blue. One pillow case and some of the top of duvet have become splotchy. Can I bleach these two items and start again pls?
C L Mitchell (author) on October 09, 2018:
It depends what kind of material they are. If they are made of natural materials then colour fixatives are worth trying.
Sandy on October 08, 2018:
I crochet, and made some school colors wash clothes.
Red & white, orange & black.
Can i treat them with anything to keep the colors from running ?
C L Mitchell (author) on June 14, 2018:
Firstly, are the yarn painting visibly dirty and really need to be cleaned? Could you spot clean any dirty parts blotting with a damp sponge or steam it to revive it? You could also talk to your local dry cleaners about whether they would be able to clean it without the colours running.
Alice on June 11, 2018:
Have some old yarn paintings I know are not colorfast. Want to clean them. How do I wash them?
C L Mitchell (author) on May 08, 2018:
What kind of material is the cloth?
Sharon on May 07, 2018:
I have a purse from Mexico that is cloth but when I use it, hang over my shoulder it bleeds on anything that I wear. I love the purse, what can I do?
C L Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2018:
Hi Leeza Beck, have you thought about just returning the cover? As it may continue to spread its colour each time you wash it, as there were clearly problems with the dyeing process so it hasn't adhered properly to the fibre. Usually I would recommend soaking the item with the colour run in oxygen bleach, but that would likely end in causing even more colour run.
Leeza Beck on April 26, 2018:
Hi there I have just purchased a quilt cover - it is polyester/cotton percale. It is black and has a silver pattern through it. When I washed it the silver colour has left line like marks all over the black fabric. I have tried rewashing, but the marks are still there. Is there anything I can do?
C L Mitchell (author) on April 25, 2018:
Hi K Smith,
Colour fixatives only work well on Fibre Reactive Dye and Direct Dyes. It doesn't work on Basic Dyes - most synthetic food colours fall in this category. So you will find that it will just come out in the wash.
Most material dyes would not be safe to use to throw at people i.e. to get in the eyes, mouth, and even skin contact.
K Smith on April 24, 2018:
Will anything set the dyed powder color thrown during a Color Run or Holi festival (usually FD&C grade dye mixed with corn starch) into a cotton or cotton poly blend t-shirt?
C L Mitchell (author) on March 25, 2018:
Hi Phyllis Dixon,
What type of material is the lining? Retyane & colour fixatives only really work well on natural fibres.
Have you tried getting the garment dry cleaned to see if that takes out the excess dye? It is worth trying since you like it so much.
Phyllis Dixon on March 24, 2018:
Help! Can I spray Retayne or another color fixative on the inside lining of a jacket? I bought a Tommy Hilfiger black ivory striped blazer that has black lining. The black lining is NOT colorfast and I ended up with black underarms on the ivory blouse I wore under it. The jacket label says DRY CLEAN ONLY. I love the jacket and want to keep it. How can I make the lining colorfast? Will dry cleaning make it colorfast or can I spray the lining with the Retayne or another colorfast spray?
C L Mitchell (author) on March 23, 2018:
Have you tried following the instructions I provide in the article above under the heading 'How to Remove Color Run and Bleeding From Fabrics'
C L Mitchell (author) on March 06, 2018:
Hi Pranav Lodha,
I'm not clear on what you are asking?
Pranav Lodha on March 06, 2018:
Is there a way to solve colour bleeding at fabric stage?
C L Mitchell (author) on February 23, 2018:
Are your sheets cotton or polyester?
Have you tried washing them on a really hot wash cycle?
If they are cotton, you can try using a colour fixative like Retayne which I mention in my article above. It works best on cottons, but not so much on polyesters.
Carly on February 23, 2018:
I have a set of sheets I bought and they have been washed probably 5 times. I washed them prior to their first use and they crocked onto my skin, so I have washed them a few more times because everytime I used them they have crocked and my legs end up blue. I used vinegar in the last wash and it didn't help. I am just wondering if you have any solutions or ideas for me to try! Thanks!
C L Mitchell (author) on February 13, 2018:
the difficulty will be removing the colour transfer that has already occurred, as preferably you would soak the garment in oxygen bleach to remove it, but since its a multi-coloured garment, you will just end up making it worse.
To stop it from colour transferring again, you can use a product like Retayne that I have mentioned in the article, as it is good with natural fibres like silk. Also, when you wash it, only do it by hand in cool water and only give it a quick wash, don't leave it to soak.
When drying it, lay it out on a towel (one that you don't mind if it gets dye on) then roll it up like a swiss roll cake. Squeeze out the excess water and then dry it flat, otherwise gravity can make the water travel down the garment and cause more colour transfer.
Marge on February 13, 2018:
I tried to spot clean a silk double sided scarce. One side was vibrant green , the other gold. The gold part had dirty marks. When I tried SO2 (using cold water)which is designed for silk, the vibrant green came through onto the gold. Any ideas what I should do?
C L Mitchell (author) on February 05, 2018:
I've had quite a few comments on here with people in the same situation.
Colour fixatives like Retayne which I mention in my article above actually work best on cottons. So it is definitely worth trying on your colourful Indian cotton bedspread.
Following a Retayne treatment, make sure you only do short washes and don't soak it, otherwise more of the colour will come out. Also, always dry it in the shade to reduce fading.
Isabelle on February 05, 2018:
I bought a quilted bedspread in India. A part of it is white cotton with traditional block print in blue color and the rest is blue cotton. Now I wanted to wash the bedspread, but I’m afraid that the colors will bleed on the parts with the white cotton. I tested the blue cotton parts with a wet white cloth to see if the color comes off. There was a faint stain of blue color rubbing off on the white cloth. Do you think I can still wash it (by hand or machine?) or will it ruin the white parts?
Thanks for your help!
C L Mitchell (author) on November 20, 2017:
Hi Anastasia Rigney,
Just use some fabric paints like Dylon's Fabric Paint which stays soft and won't crack. You can get this at most craft stores and online e.g. in the UK you can get it in Hobbycraft stores and on their website.
C L Mitchell (author) on November 20, 2017:
Hi Denise Zappulla,
Unfortunately polyester won't respond to the colour fixative products. All you can really try is soaking it in really warm water (hot enough you can put your hand in it, but not so hot it would scold you as polyester doesn't like it super hot) to get as much of the old dye out as possible.
Anastasia Rigney on November 20, 2017:
NEED HELP ASAP :I have to make a few things for my schools production soon and i am using 3 white king bedsheets as the background. could someone get back to me on how to colour it in best? marker is too expensive and time consuming so i'm leaning towards paint, but I feel acrylic would crack, water colour would bleed too much, whats can i use that is in the middle? maybe a latex paint and anyone know where to get some (UK & Ireland) ?
Denise Zappulla on November 20, 2017:
I have a velvet black striped blouse, and everytime I touch the shirt my hands and fingers become black and it's very embarrassing. Is there anything I can do to stop that from happening, because I love the shirt. The tag says it's 90% polyester 10% spandex and to machine wash gentle and tumble dry and press on the inside. The Velvet is only on the outside of the shirt, so it does not go on the body, just your hands. Please help!
C L Mitchell (author) on September 26, 2017:
Screen printing (where the graphic is printed directly onto the shirt) and iron on (where the graphic is ironed onto the shirt) are a different methods than dying materials, i.e. uses different chemicals/process.
Consequently, ironing won't help crocking in dyed fabrics.
franci on September 24, 2017:
I seem to recall once hearing that dyes used for screen prints on tee shirts could be set by ironing prior to washing. Is this true? And can this method help to crocking?
C L Mitchell (author) on September 20, 2017:
I would suggest a very short/quick wash in cool water. As soon as it's finished, don't leave it sitting wet otherwise the colours will run. You should also dry it flat, as sometimes the water can run down and the colour can bleed. Cotton can sometimes shrink a bit in the wash (think about how your jeans are always a bit harder to get on once out of the wash), but it should relax/stretch back to shape shortly after wearing it.
JustAQuestion on September 18, 2017:
I have this 100% white cotton sweater with a cool print on it and I was wondering how to wash it. I'm scared I might damage the print or shrink the sweater.
C L Mitchell (author) on September 13, 2017:
What material are your pants made of?
Emma on September 09, 2017:
Hi, I have a question about my pants every time i wore the color transfer to my purse or into my hands. I washed it many times but its still the same every time i wear. Please advice. Thanks.
C L Mitchell (author) on September 07, 2017:
Hi ELISA Nutku,
Unfortunately linen is very prone to fading. For that reason you should really only wash with cold water using the gentle cycle setting. Dry them in the shade to avoid the sun bleaching them. This can be difficult when using linen as sheets since sheets usually need a good hot wash to get all of the body oils out of them and for sanitary reasons.
Colour fixatives like Retayne, which I mention in my article above, work well with linens, so might be worth a try as it may extend the life of the colours.
ELISA Nutku. on September 06, 2017:
Hello. I am hoping you can help with my gorgeous Italian linen sheets. I purchased them as a lovely natural warm color. Kind of beige but not. Also a darker toned pattern embossed onto the fabric. This has all but faded away as has the color of the sheets. Faded to a dirty white color. As they were horrifyingly expensive the company replaced them. The same has occurred. I only use a natural washing power with no bleach ever. I have another two sets of these sheets so am looking to prevent the fading. Kind regards. ELISA
C L Mitchell (author) on August 02, 2017:
Hi Christie Dengler,
Rit dye fixative works on other brands of similar dyes too. But Retayne is the most popular product with quilters who, like yourself, are creating a mix of white and coloured panels. Joann's sell this product too (well its on their website) or on Amazon, see the link above.
Christie Dengler on August 01, 2017:
Hello, I have a question that I haven't see anywhere. What is the best way to ensure colorfastness in black and white fabric? I'm beginning to make a duvet cover for my son and his new bride, using fat quarters in varying black and white patterns. The one thing I've seen everywhere, is to wash the colors separately. Ummm. cannot do that in this case.
I looked at the Rit Fixative at Joann's, but it sounded like it was for fabric that had just been dyed with Rit dye, not commercially. So I asked the lady at the cutting table and she looked online and found something about a combination salt and vinegar bath. I was looking today to see how much for the amount of fabric I have and I'm seeing that the salt and vinegar won't work.
Help! I really don't want to end up with a labor of love turning grey!
Also, if the fixative is the best option, does it make a difference if it is Retayne or Rit Fixative?
Thank you so much for your assistance!
C L Mitchell (author) on July 20, 2017:
Unfortunately dark indigo denim is frequently poorly dyed and will constantly bleed no matter what. In fact I often see them sold with a label warning buyers that the product will transfer colour. You could try a really hot wash, but I'm not sure it will help any since you've already soaked it already and that should have removed the excess dye. The fact that it is still bleeding is a likely indicator that the dye process wasn't very good.
The only other thing you could try is a colour fixative, which I refer to in my article above. It usually works well with denim fabrics.
Cery on July 19, 2017:
I have a dark indigo denim and it is still bleeding after soaking for 3 days. You are right it felt very stiff.. How should i go about handling it to get rid of the excess dye? Would hot water do the job
C L Mitchell (author) on July 18, 2017:
What material is your bra made out of? If it is synthetic, it is likely to cope ok with a good soaking in some hot water without getting too faded. If its cotton, then you can try soaking it, but just be aware that it might lose some of its colour (probably the least of your troubles at this point). You can also try a colour fixative like retayne as mentioned in my article above. But this will only work well if it is cotton or some other natural material.
This is obviously disappointing as a sports bra you would expect that they would have tested it under these conditions and be aware that it colour runs as you sweat. My only other suggestion if above doesn't help would be to buy a top in a similar colour to wear with it so it's not as obvious when it does run.
Danielleb92 on July 17, 2017:
Help! I have this dark pink sports bra that I wore under a white tank top to a gym class. When I got home I realized that the color from the bra had bled through onto my white tank from my sweating (it was a hot yoga class, so there was a lot of sweating). Thankfully, the dye came out of the white shirt but now I'm afraid to wash the bra or wear it again. Any fixes? I was going to soak it in some detergent in the sink to see if that would pull any of the "extra" color out? Thanks in advance!
C L Mitchell (author) on June 29, 2017:
What is your velvet material made of? (Synthetic or natural fibres like cotton, silk, wool?) What are the washing instructions on the label? And how have you washed it so far (you mentioned having washed it twice - what detergent did you use and water temperature?
This info will help me advice you further.
velvet on June 28, 2017:
I have a velvet dress that keeps bleeding on anything I wear underneath - do you recommend anything to stop the bleeding? I washed it twice already. Thanks.
C L Mitchell (author) on June 11, 2017:
Being linen, it should respond well to a colour fixative like Retayne (mentioned in the article).
As for your white dress, give it a good soaking in a strong mix of oxygen bleach and hopefully the red dye will come out of it.
Kate on June 11, 2017:
I have a read linen dress I wear over a white dress when I took the red dress off the under white piece was stained red the dress also stained a gray leather bag but I copped it & got it off with wet wipes . Is there anyway I can stop this from happening as i love the dress
Anita on June 03, 2017:
Thank you for your response! I did a test run so as not to frustrate or disappoint the kiddos. You are correct, it did not work. Thank you for the great article and answer
C L Mitchell (author) on June 03, 2017:
That sounds like a lot of fun.
Retayne works very well at fixing dye on cotton fabrics and many quilters use it to ensure to the dye is 'locked in' and doesn't bleed.
However, the concern I have is about the kind of product you are using to dye the fabric. Colour fixatives only work well on Fibre Reactive Dye and Direct Dyes. It doesn't work on Basic Dyes - most synthetic food colours fall in this category. So I'm not so sure it would actually help in this case.
Most quality dyes would not be safe to use in the game you are planning.
As you wash them, the colour is likely to fade/wash out, but it will just depend on how the fabric takes to the dye products you are planning on using.
Anita on June 02, 2017:
Hi! I realize you did this article some time ago, but perhaps still monitor for additional questions.
My situation seems to be the opposite of those I see posted. Would like my tykes to wear white cotton t-shirts and have a watergun battle using watercolors as ammo. (appropriately protected with goggles, of course)
How do I then set the dye so the watercolors don't just wash out when laundered? Will the Retayne you referenced protect their "art"? If so, I assume I use it after a truce is called?
We are planning to make our own liquid watercolors using reconstituted dried-up markers and cakes of paint from dollar store color sets.
Thanks for your input!
C L Mitchell (author) on May 04, 2017:
Hi Jenny Robins,
Good upholstery fabrics should crock very little. To find out more, look up the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Performance Guidelines which provides specifications for woven textiles. Their Wet & Dry Crocking guidelines (symbol looks like a silhouette of a painters palette) recommend dry crocking at a Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking at a Grade 3 minimum.
It would be worth asking the supplier what the Wet & Dry Crocking rating is on this fabric. If it is less than the recommended minimum, then you will need to decide whether to return the couch. There is not a lot you can do to fix poorly dyed upholstery. There are colour fixatives that can be applied to the material (the Rit Color Stay Dye Fabric Fixative I mention in the article above comes in a easy spray bottle) but they all require you to rinse the product out, and as you mentioned, the the upholstery can't be removed, so this could be very difficult to do! Also, it will depend on what type of material the upholstery is, as colour fixatives don't tend to work well on polyesters.
Another consideration - if you try to treat the material yourself, you could potentially void your warranty, so be cautious about that.
Jenny Robins on May 03, 2017:
I have some new furniture (red floral on light green background) which is showing signs of 'Crocking'! As the upholstery is not removable is there anything I can spray it with to stop it crocking any further? the Manufacturers have offered to replace it but I would like to know if there is anything that can be done to stop it happening again.
C L Mitchell (author) on April 25, 2017:
I'm sorry that the oxygen bleach didn't work on your shorts. You could try using a specialised colour run remover like Dr Beckmann's 'Colour Run Remover' or Dylon's 'SOS Colour Run Remover'. However, the chlorine bleach often sets the stain/colour stain, so I'm not so sure if it will work now. Also, these products also don't always guarantee a success.
Can you remove your car seat covers to soak them? If not, you could try using a liquid oxygen bleach that bubbles up. Leave it for a few minutes then try blotting it and do this several times to see if it makes any difference. Also, making the oxygen bleach powder into a paste and working it in and leaving it for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
Kerry on April 24, 2017:
I had a blouse transfer color all over my white shorts and the back of my new cars driver seat. Is there anything I can do to remove it? I tried soaking the shorts in oxyclean overnight. That didn't work. Then I tried soaking them in a bleach solution overnight. That didn't work either. My big concern is how to remove it from my car seat. Any suggestions?
orionduzt14 on April 06, 2017:
Thanks soo much! I appreciate your quick response as I was thinking about doing a load or trying to colorsetting them. So far I have been following all your guidelines (without knowing it) to the letter. My sister thinks it's gross to wear clothes multiple times without washing but it really does save colors and extend the life of certain clothes. But it was also good a good tip when hand washing not to overscrub rub or twist them. I tend to do that when I hand wash to either get a stain out from the kids sticky hands or to try to get as much water out as possible to speed up drying time.. but I just got a new washer that has a cycle, that allows me to throw them in.. inside out..and let them go for a gentle spin for a few min to get the water out without having to go thru a wash or rinse cycle.( so that fixes that)
(As a side note you should totally try the Lularoe brand leggings - u can find consultants all over FB-they are incredibly soft and very flattering! I hated leggings and would not wear them out except as long underwear until my sister introduced me to this brand! But they're addicting since they are sooo comfy and so pretty! hahaha!)
Thanks again for all your help and advice! I Am so glad I asked you before I did anything! You are incredibly knowledgeable in this area. All your advice is much appreciated!
C L Mitchell (author) on April 06, 2017:
I'm not familiar with the leggings, but they sound like they have lovely vibrant patterns and colours that you want to retain as long as possible.
Unfortunately, because of the type of material they are, a colour fixative product is not going to work on your leggings. Instead, I suggest following the bullet points in my article.
In summary, only wash the entire leggings when they really need it. Just wash the dirty bits between washes.
When you do wash them, only give them a quick handwash (don't soak them) in cool water.
Use a gentle product that's kind to colours. Your mum's use of woolite is a good idea because its a gentle detergent.
When you do wash them, avoid scrubbing them or rubbing the material together. The abrasiveness will cause wear and tear which will cause fading.
Dry them inside in the shade.
Just a side note, general wear and tear from wearing them, especially out in the sun, will also fade them. I'm not suggesting never going out in them, but just pointing out that day to day wear also fades them.
orionduzt14 on April 06, 2017:
My mom has color set with salt in cold water for 24hrs since Before I was born. And her mom did it before her.So I don't necessarily think it is a fad, as her clothes do stay darker longer without fading. She also uses woolite detergent for her darks after setting to help keep those darks stay dark.
My question actually is about the popular Lularoe brand of leggings. They are made of 92% poly and 8% spandex. Instructions say to wash on gentle cylce (or by hand) inside out & separately, only with other lularoe products, in cold water, then hang to dry. Also, to only wash after multiple wears and when absolutely necessary. (My sister doesn't have time to do all of that with her side business her day job and 3 kids and so just washes them like normal clothes - but does put them inside out & hangs them dry- and they fade considerably) Most of mine are still fairly new and still bright and colorful and I don't want them to fade or lose that brightness (most of my patterns are dark in color but have that nice pop of bright in them as well or just bright in general) so u can understand my wanting to colorfast/colorset the dye. What do u recommend for this fabric? It can't be any type of harsh chemicals as they go thru a brushing technique to maske them super soft. I don't want to soak them in something that will break down the fibers or spandex. That's why I was actually hoping to do the salt mixture.. and thought hmm maybe vinegar is a new thing added over the years since my mom & grandma started colorfasting. So I have given u all the info I have.. in your opinion what would you do to keep my amazing bright/darker colored leggings their true color or as close to it for as long as possible? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!! Thank you!
C L Mitchell (author) on March 31, 2017:
Thanks for reporting back on your results. I'm so glad to hear it worked. That's a great tip re: using a magic sponge on the rubber, I'll have to give that one a try myself. But yes, if anyone is reading this, best not to use it on the fabric parts as it's abrasiveness would likely break the fibres.
LuaMaya on March 30, 2017:
I want to tell you that I tried the oxygen bleach and it worked amazingly! My hot pink converse are nearly like new! They are bright and clean - even the hot pink soles have had their color restored, and they were looking really dingy after tromping around in all that sand! I am SO happy that my favorite shoes have been restored!
FYI: I used a generic version oxygen bleach as that is what was on hand. I used the oxygen bleach-to-water ratio recommended on the link you provided, and soaked the shoes for about two hours, then gently brushed away at the spots of dirt on the canvas with a very soft, clean (new) horse hair brush made for shoe polishing. I also did a once-over with a magic sponge on the soles before soaking them in the oxygen bleach. I think this helped to get off some of the grime. I was careful to avoid using the magic sponge on the canvas as I think it may have an undesirable effect. I don't know whether it would have been better to use it before or after the oxygen bleach soak. I do know that if the soles - or canvas - have any kind of pattern or design painted on them, the magic sponge would take it right off, so it's best to be careful. Thanks again!
C L Mitchell (author) on March 25, 2017:
Check the list of ingredients, a powder oxygen bleach should only contain sodium perborate, potassium monopersulfate or sodium percarbonate. If it has any additional ingredients I would steer clear of it, otherwise many of the brands are just the same thing, they just have a different brand name.
I like seventh generation oxygen bleach just because I know they don't add anything extra.
I have never heard of it causing any problems with canvas fabrics, in fact campers and boaters recommend it for cleaning canvases.
LuaMaya on March 25, 2017:
One more question about treating the pink canvas shoes: Would Oxi-clean or Oxy-Strong do the trick for the oxygen bleach? I have been on a lot of different sites researching this and some said using Oxi-clean would perhaps damage the integrity of the canvas. So I'm wondering if this is true for only the Oxi-clean brand, and it is better to specifically use the one from Seventh Generation that you have recommended, or are all oxygen-based bleaches OK?
LuaMaya on March 25, 2017:
Thanks so much for the advice! I will follow your instructions carefully. Luckily the soles are the same color as the canvas!
C L Mitchell (author) on March 25, 2017:
My favourite way to remove stains is using oxygen bleach, don't worry it is completely color safe, safe to use and environmentally friendly - don't get this product confused with chlorine bleach which you definitely don't want to use! Read more about how to use it in this article (scroll down to point 8)
For stubborn stains you may need to use it in conjunction with an enzyme based detergent as well, learn more here https://hubpages.com/cleaning/Biological-or-Non-Bi...
I would just use a very soft brush and wash them by hand in a tub or bucket.
If you do find that the colour eventually fades too much, you can always redye them! If the sole is the same colour as the material, then you can just use normal clothing dye following the directions on the packet and dye them in a bucket. However, I'm going to guess that they are probably pink canvas uppers with a white rubber sole? If that's the case, then you need to cover the soles and non-pink canvas parts of your shoes with painters tape to protect these areas. Then buy a fabric spray paint (just google it) in the colour you want and spray dye them.
LuaMaya on March 25, 2017:
Hi, I've really enjoyed this article! I was wondering if you could give me some advice on canvas shoes. I recently bought a glorious pair of hot pink converse, then went on vacation to the coast. Walking on a beach path one day, the sand was very soft and my shoes got submerged and covered in "beach dust" and dirt. I tried spot cleaning as recommended for these types of shoes, but they need a lot more attention as the entire shoe is just dingy now. I have some ideas on how to clean the shoes, but would like an expert's advice as I want to preserve the color as much as possible. I'm thinking of soaking them in cool or lukewarm water with a mild detergent and using perhaps a soft brush or silk cloth to gently clean them? I was going to try the salt trick, but apparently this is not a real thing! ;) I also am thinking maybe a natural detergent would not be the best as these don't have the protective agents that some chemical detergents have? I look forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance for your advice!
C L Mitchell (author) on March 25, 2017:
Most of the Rit dyes require you to use salt during the dying process to set the dye - did you remember to add it in?
The type of material that you carpet is made from will also affect whether it takes the dye. i.e. polyester and acrylic don't accept dyes.
Also, did you rinse it several times to remove the excess dye?
A final option would be to try a dye fixative (which I mention in my above article). But these only really work on natural fibres, so it will depend on the type of fibre that your carpet is made from as to whether it will work.
jess on March 23, 2017:
Hello, I just finished dyeing my carpet in my camper and it seems to be bleeding a little. I used vinegar in the dye to help set it. do you know how I can help this? I used Rit dye.
C L Mitchell (author) on February 26, 2017:
Hi Marcia Putnam,
You need to be careful with satin, you can't use hot water as that can shrink the material. Unfortunately colour fixatives that I mention in the above article does not tend to work very well with this material.
I would suggest soaking the PJ's in some lukewarm water for 10 minutes to try and get the excess dye out, and then put it through a gentle cycle. The good thing with satin is that it usually holds it colour quite well after soaking.
Marcia Putnam on February 24, 2017:
I have a very red satin pj that stains my sheets. It transferred less color after washing and didn't seem faded. Should I just keep washing it?
C L Mitchell (author) on February 22, 2017:
Hi Sylvia, have you tried putting the sheets through a hot wash to remove the excess dye? If they are still bleeding colour then you could try a color fixative like retayne which I mention in my article above. It works well with cotton.
Sylvia on February 21, 2017:
I bought some dark blue sheets and the dye rubbed off on my hands and face and feet while I was sleeping. What do you recommend to make the dye set or stop bleeding?
C L Mitchell (author) on January 30, 2017:
Thanks for leaving your comment Mary Isaac. I'm really glad you were able to save your dress!
mary isaac (kenya) on January 30, 2017:
This article actually guided me through and i managed to salvage my new dress white n purple dress from color bleed....
C L Mitchell (author) on January 21, 2017:
Colour fixatives like Retayne which I mention in my article above actually work best on cottons. So it is definitely worth trying on your colourful Indian cotton clothing.
Bree on January 19, 2017:
What is the best way to set the dyes in colourful Indian cotton clothing? What is the best way to wash colourful Indian cotton clothing after setting the dye?
C L Mitchell (author) on January 16, 2017:
That black jacket sounds like it has been poorly dyed. It sounds like you've already washed it several times already, but have you tried washing it in really hot water? This will ensure that any excess dye is removed. If you have already tried this and it didn't work, then there is likely to have been a problem with the dying process.
Unfortunately dye fixatives don't tend to work very well on polyester.
You could try soaking it in hot water to get as much of the old dye out and then re-dying it. But you would need to ensure you used dye specially designed for polyesters (google it).
Tammy on January 16, 2017:
My daughter purchased a black jacket (polyester/spandex) and has had several pieces of clothing ruined because the black is fading on not only her clothing underneath but it has also ended up on her skin. She absolutely loves this jacket, but decided to stay away from it as it has ruined several pieces. Looks like she should have just thrown it away because the last time she wore it, she folded it and put it in her dresser (after laundering of course :) and when cleaning out her dresser the other day, she realized that once again it ruined yet another "good" shirt.. simply from sitting on top of the shirt.. any solutions other than to throw it away?
Deejar on January 14, 2017:
C L Mitchell (author) on January 13, 2017:
Yes, you would expect good upholstery fabrics to crock very little. Look up the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Performance Guidelines which provides specifications of woven textiles. Their Wet & Dry Crocking guidelines (symbol looks like a silhouette of a painters palette) recommend dry crocking at a Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking at a Grade 3 minimum.
There are good quality upholstery fabrics available that come with a rating of 4-5 for both dry and wet crocking /rubbing. So before purchasing your material, ask the supplier about the ACT performance of the material.
Deejar on January 12, 2017:
I was about to buy some upholstery fabric to recover a comfortable chair & ottoman, but the store's site says fabric may crock. I had never heard of crocking before. Your information is very helpful, but I obviously can't wash 15 yards of fabric before using (and it's dry clean only), so I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about what to do. I can't believe a reputable store would sell upholstery fabric that is going to rub off on clothes. Thank you.
C L Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2017:
Jeanne - how long have you had them for? Have you washed them yet? If not, give them a good wash in some cool water about 30C or 86F. If they are still running, you could try buying some colour fixative like Retayne which I mention in the above article. However, I've not found colour run to be such a big problem in gym gear, so I worry that if this does not help, there might be a problem with way that they have been dyed which is causing the dye to leach out.
Jeanne on January 07, 2017:
I purchased some "Tangerine" brand yoga pants and jackets (black and navy) at Sam's Club. They have leached color onto French shellac fingernails, light colored leather purse and beige underwear. Anything you can suggest or should I just return them all?
C L Mitchell (author) on January 05, 2017:
I sympathise with you as I've been there! Some fabrics have been poorly dyed and no matter how careful you are, they just leach colour.
Unfortunately the only way to get the colour back on your faded pillow is to redye it, however, as you've said - it has white branch designs on it, so it wouldn't really work.
For your other pillows, you could try using a colour fixative like Retayne which I mention in my article.
Also something to consider - are the pillows sitting in direct sunlight? Not sure where you live, but if its somewhere with strong sun, then this can speed up the fading. I lived in Australia for many years and I had to be careful of this.
You should also try to reduce washing them unless absolutely necessary and when doing so use cold water (which I noted you did try anyway) and keep the wash to a quick cycle. Don't leave them to soak.
Brianna on January 05, 2017:
I have a really nice pillow that's purple with white branch designs on it and after a few weeks it turned pink and faded! I've tried washing it on cold but nothing happened. I'm worried my other brand new pillows will fade too. What can I do to prevent them from fading and maybe restore my other pillow to its original look?
C L Mitchell (author) on January 04, 2017:
for example: Crews, Patricia Cox. Effectiveness of Dye Setting Treatments on Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Direct, Reactive, and Vat Dyes. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 7(4) Summer 1989, 1-7.
There is other research which you can find by googling it.
Also, if you speak to people who work in the textiles industry (which I have) who know about the chemistry involved in fabric dyes, they will also advise you that there is no scientific reason or evidence that vinegar sets dye. In fact in some dyes it can actually cause it to cause colour loss.
Vinegar is a good fabric softener alternative though.
donkeyhodey on January 03, 2017:
I don't agree with you about vinegar not setting the color in cotton such as cotton towels or in denim. I've been using that technique for decades and also have experimented with and without using it. The vinegar treated towels by far hold there color and brightness much better than the ones not treated with vinegar. I am wondering what scientific analysis did you use to back up your statements.
C L Mitchell (author) on November 30, 2016:
Unfortunately material can still have a lot of unattached particles of dye, causing crocking (colour transfer). Washing it in a hot wash (as long as the material can take it, check the label) will help remove these unattached dye particles. You could even try using the product I recommend in the article above - Retayne.
Can you remove the pillow cover to wash it? If not, will the pillow fit in the washing machine? Alternatively you could try washing in the bath if you have one (try standing on it to help squeeze out the water).
J. Evans on November 29, 2016:
I bought my husband a bed back rest pillow in a material that looks sort of like dark brown leather but is actually polyester cloth. It is transferring some of the brown dye onto our cotton sheets! Is there a spray I could use to keep this transfer from happening?
C L Mitchell (author) on November 28, 2016:
Yes, vinegar is not going to prevent the dye running, so not much point in doing this. Unnecessary soaking could cause a lot of dye to leach out of the fabrics which would be a shame as this could make them appear duller and I can imagine your Indian fabrics are beautifully vibrant.
sharon on November 27, 2016:
I have just come back from India.while there i was told to soak the clothes in vinegar before washing them in cold water. But now i see posts online that says that doesn't work.
I don't want to ruin the clothes before i even wear them. They are lovely tunics and pants, and shawls. some cotton some looser weave and very thin.
stretchy legging type bottoms.
thank you for your advice. Can't wait to wear my treasures.
C L Mitchell (author) on November 03, 2016:
If the sole is the same colour as the material, then you can just use normal clothing dye following the directions on the packet using a bucket. However, I'm going to guess that they are probably blue canvas uppers with a white rubber sole? If that's the case then your going to need to cover all of the non blue canvas parts of your shoes with painters tape to protect this area. Then buy a fabric spray paint (just google it) in the colour you want and spray them.
Talha Malik on November 02, 2016:
Hi. I have bought blue canvas shoes . they have blue fabric on them . its been 3 months and there colour has started to fade . they have become very light blue now and look bad because of that. please tell me how i can make them dark blue again
C L Mitchell (author) on October 31, 2016:
C Midgley - I should also have added a warning about being careful during the drying process. When you take the pillow covers out of the tub after handwashing them, gently squeeze out excess water by hand and then place them onto some old clean white towels (that you don't mind if they get some colour transfer onto them). Place toweling either side of the pillow case and then roll it up like a swiss roll (so the material is pressed up against the towel, not against itself). Then squeeze out the water more - I usually stand on it! Then unroll them and lay them out flat on a dry old white towel to dry. Don't hang them on the line otherwise the colour may bleed down the pillow case. Hope this makes sense.
C L Mitchell (author) on October 30, 2016:
What kind of material are they made from? Can you remove the covers and wash them separately? I would suggest that you wash them by hand in cold water and don't leave them soaking - only give then a very quick hand wash. You could also try the product I suggest above - Retayne. It's a colour fixative.
C Midgley on October 28, 2016:
I have two pillows from Pier One and I need to clean them. The dry cleaner wouldn't do it because he said they would bleed. They are bright orange and pinks. I don't mind trying myself, I just don't want to ruin them. Any suggestions?