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Color Dye Bleeding on Silk Dress

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By ladyvincenza

My Laundry Question

I made the mistake of handwashing a silk dress with a blue shirt. The shirt leaked big spots of dye onto the dress. The dry cleaner said it's a lost cause, but is there anything I can do? Would colorsafe bleach help?

Also, in the future, what can I do to keep dye from running? It runs even from items that are old.


Share a Little Background Info

Washing two items together. The blue dye from the shirt ran onto the silk dress, leaving large spots.

I should add that the dress is new, orange, made of silk, and the shirt is old, darkish blue, also silk.

Lessons Learned

  • Don't wash any "runny" items together? No, really, how to avoid the running dye?

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)


Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I agree with the dry cleaner that there is nothing that will remove the dye stain from silk without ruining the silk fabric. My only suggestion is to dye the dress a darker color than the stain.

Now, if you do dye the dress, you really will need to be careful about dye transfer to other garments. Many dyes are unstable, especially in clothing made overseas where there is not careful inspection control. If you suspect something will bleed and fade, do a quick test. In an inconspicuous place (inside seam) rub the fabric with a wet white towel. If you see color transfer to the towel, that garment is going to bleed.

To help prevent color transfer, add 1 cup of salt to cold wash water and allow the garment to soak at least one hour. This will help the dye set. IT WILL NOT PREVENT FURTHER BLEEDING. You will need to wash the garment several times alone before all of the surface dye that did not penetrate the fibers dissipates. Every dye is different, so you can also try adding 1/2 cup white vinegar to the cold water wash and allowing it to soak for one hour. Again, IT WILL NOT PREVENT FURTHER BLEEDING, it will just help the color set a bit better.

If you suspect that something will bleed, wash it alone each time until you see no color transfer to the wash water.

Good luck!

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