How do I de-pink my shirts?
March 20, 2015 12:18 AM   Subscribe

My white shirts got dyed by the plastic tub I soaked them in. I'm afraid to just start bleaching away for fear of making things worse. Help?

I have two all-cotton, formerly-white dress shirts that are pricey and hard to replace. I thought I should give them some TLC, so soaked them in OxiClean powder in an empty plastic tub. The tub was red (held Kirkland laundry soap capsules). Now my shirts are pink. Is there any hope of re-whitening them? I avoided using the dryer for fear of setting the colour.
posted by HoteDoge to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could try Rit Colour Remover. It is supposed to be less damaging than bleach.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:52 AM on March 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

We use this stuff here in Australia. It's just in the laundry aisle in your supermarket. You must have an equivalent where you are. It was originally for soaking cloth nappies but we all use it for keeping our whites white too. It doesn't eat fabric like bleach does.
posted by stellathon at 1:04 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Try a diluted peroxide/water soak. Nurses use peroxide to remove blood from scrubs.

If that works out for you, in the future keep 'em spiffy with liquid bluing such as this one.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:14 AM on March 20, 2015

Good call on not tumble-drying them.
I've used these dye magnet sheets with good success. The first time I washed a new color-block shirt, the portions of black cloth bled black dye, for greyish blue streaks on the white panels. I let it air dry, bought these sheets, then tossed the shirt and a dye magnet sheet into the next load of medium-colored wash. The shirt came out much whiter, and the product sheet came out the color of dark denim. I threw the shirt into the next load with another sheet, for further improvement, and it's been fine ever since. I never used up the packet of dye-grabber sheets, they're not generally useful to me, but they did do well on that problem.
Normally I'd say that fabric dyes might respond to those sheets better than other sources of color (i.e. I wouldn't expect them to take ink out of clothes) but since the bucket bled out in oxiclean, maybe it'll respond to fabric-type cleaners like the dye magnet sheets? Also, a soak in more oxiclean in a white bucket might work, given that you know oxi affected the red dye enough to diffuse it out of the plastic in the first place.
posted by aimedwander at 6:56 AM on March 20, 2015

+1 on dye remover and/or a 'colour run remover'-type product. I would wash with the latter first and boil in dye remover second if any pink remained, and then hang them in the sun for a stint to kill off any remaining dinginess. None of those will harm the shirt.

Peroxide does work a treat on blood but dye is a very different sort of stain.

(bona fides: I shop almost exclusively in thrift stores, I have all white linens, and I deal in vintage clothing -- I do a lot of fussing with old/damaged fabric.)
posted by kmennie at 7:47 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd try the colour remover first. If that doesn't work & you are pondering bleaching, try a soak in Oxyclean in a better container (the US equivalent of the Napisan linked above), you can start with a pretty dilute solution if the fabric is delicate. If it worked to lift the dye out of the container it should work to get it back out of the dress.
posted by wwax at 8:29 AM on March 20, 2015

posted by IAmBroom at 9:21 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

+1 to OxyClean before bleach.
posted by amaire at 2:51 PM on March 20, 2015

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