White Clothes Turned Pink (Why and How to Fix)

Cleaners Talk is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links, we may earn a commission at no additional costs to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Whether you’ve left a stray red underwear or a bright red ChapStick in your load full of whites, an accidental mixed wash can happen to anyone. Here’s how to whiten clothes that have turned pink:

Collect all the white clothes that have turned pink. Submerge them in a solution made of ¼ cup bleach mixed with 1 gallon of cold water for 10 minutes. The color may come off right away, or it can take a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse the clothes with cool tap water, then hang them to air dry.

You can also use specialty products, like the Carbona Color Run Remover, to restore the brightness in your white clothes. In this article, you will learn why white clothes turn pink and how to fix them.

Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
  1. Now Playing
    Up NextWhy Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
  2. Now Playing
    Up NextThink Twice Before Adding These to a Steam Cleaner
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Video Player is loading.
Current Time 0:00
Duration 0:00
Loaded: 0%
Stream Type LIVE
Remaining Time 0:00
 
1x
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Video Player is loading.
Current Time 0:00
Duration 0:00
Loaded: 0%
Stream Type LIVE
Remaining Time 0:00
 
1x
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles

2 reasons why your white clothes turn pink

White clothes turn pink because they have been washed with something red-colored. Whether it’s a stray red sock or a red lipstick, the red color or dye will leach out into the water and transfer onto the white fabric.

1. You’ve accidentally left a red non-colorfast item in the load

Since most people sort their garments based on color and washing requirements, they usually wash their white items, which are often made up of towels, socks, and underwear, with warm or hot water.

Hot water is your friend when washing heavy white fabrics like sheets, towels, underwear, and thick socks. For everything else, you'll want to keep it between warm or cool, depending on how delicate the fabric is.

However, when you’ve accidentally left something red (a red shirt, for example, or a bright red pair of underwear) in your load of whites, the red dye can bleed out of the fabric and transfer onto your white pieces of clothing, making them noticeably pink.

Some red garments are considered non-colorfast items, which means the color can bleed when the fabric gets wet and the dye can leach out into the water, especially when you wash them in hot water.

Although the red dye can transfer to any load, it’s more noticeable when it happens to white clothes because there is no other color to hide the bleeding. As a result, your white clothes have turned pink.

Sometimes, colored pieces of clothes need to be washed a few times to make sure any remaining dye is washed out. If you aren't careful, you may have a laundry disaster on your hands.

2. A red item made its way to the washer

Simple everyday objects that contain dyes, like markers and ChapSticks, can also transfer colors onto your clothes. Though you may not notice the bleeds in dark shirts, you will notice them on your white shirts.

To avoid this, don’t forget to check the washing machine for any leftover items from the last wash. Also check the pockets of every shirt for anything that can transfer color to white clothes.

A paper, wrapper, pen, market, or anything with a red dye can turn your white clothes pink. Certain types of chewing gum can also stain your white clothes too. Anything with dye or things that melt or dissolve in water can cause your white clothes to turn pink. Even a piece of red paper can leak red color.

How to whiten clothes that have turned pink

How many of you have accidentally let that one red shirt end up in your load of whites? Don’t beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us at least once or twice in our lifetime. If you want to restore the glorious white color, here are the step-by-step guide on how to whiten clothes that have turned pink:

1. Check the care labels

Start by checking the care labels. Make sure your white clothes are made of fibers that can be safely bleached. Generally, fabrics made of cotton, polyester, linen, nylon, rayon, and acrylic are all bleach-safe. Fabrics that are not bleach safe include wool, silk, leather, spandex, and mohair.

2. Prepare a household bleach solution

You will need to make a household bleach solution. Add 1 gallon of cold water to a large, wide bucket or a plastic dishpan. Then, add ¼ cup of disinfecting bleach to the water. Mix the solution while wearing gloves.

3. Submerge the pink clothes inside the bleach solution

Fully submerge the once white clothes inside the bleach and water solution for up to 10 minutes. You can swirl the items around in the bleach solution to make sure the bleach can work its magic.

During this time, you can check the progress of the color removal. Pull the garment out of the solution to see if the red dye is coming off. The dye can come off immediately, or it can take several minutes.

If the pink color on the pieces of clothing is noticeably lighter after about 10 minutes of soaking, don’t continue soaking them. Instead, rinse the items and repeat the entire process once again.

Whenever you are working with bleach and water to remove color bleeding from clothes, it is always better to repeat a treatment instead of using a stronger solution or applying longer contact time.

4. Rinse and air dry

After 10 minutes, drain the bleach and water solution. Rinse the clothes thoroughly with cool water. It is not recommended to use the dryer. Applying heat will make the discoloration permanent. You can then lay the pieces of clothing flat to dry, or if they’re not too heavy while wet, hang them to air dry. 

If you notice blotches of color or discoloration, rewash the stained clothes in the washing machine with one cup of non-chlorine bleach and the usual amount of laundry detergent.

Another effective method to restore white clothes

If the persistent color stain does not go away, you can use a specialty product called the Carbona Color Run Remover. It contains no bleach, formaldehyde, and phosphate, but works just as effectively. In fact, one look at the reviews on Amazon and you’ll be convinced to try it out.

Using the safe and effective product is super easy, but the methods for removing color run from a single garment and a full load differ slightly. You can learn more about how to use Carbona Color Run Remover.

Key takeaways

Now you know why white clothes turn pink. The easiest way to prevent white clothes from turning pink is to separate your clothing by color and check the washer between loads to make sure no stray red items remain.

However, if a red sock or a red Sharpie fell into the load, you can quickly restore your white clothes as long as you follow the tips in this article. Just make sure you act fast before the load hits the dryer.

Related articles:

Sofia Rodriguez

As a professional house cleaner, I'm passionate about cleanliness. I write this blog to help anyone take better care of their homes and ultimately their loved ones.