How to Remove Food Coloring and Hair Dye Stains

Hair dye and food coloring stains are sure to be noticed, so watch out for spills and splashes.
Hair dye and food coloring stains are sure to be noticed, so watch out for spills and splashes.
Studio MPM

­Food coloring and hair dye stains can be difficult to deal with. Use the following tips and techniques, and you should be able to remove them safely and effec­tively.

Although food coloring and hair dye stains can be a formidable mess to clean, it can be done by acting quickly using these methods.

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After you identify the affected material, check out these pages to learn how to fight that stain:

Non-washable Fabrics

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from non-washable fabrics such as Acetate, Carpet/Synthetic, Fiberglass, Rayon and Triacetate:

  • Sponge (the method of using light strokes with a dampened pad working outward from the center of the stain) with water.
  • Spray on a fabric spot cleaner.
  • Then apply a wet spotter and a few drops of white vinegar.
  • Use an absorbent pad dampened with wet spotter to blot occasionally.
  • Keep the stain moist with wet spotter and vinegar.
  • When no more stain can be blotted, flush (the method of applying stain remover to loosen staining materials and residue from stain removers) with water.

If stain persists:

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  • Apply more wet spotter and a few drops of ammonia.
  • Cover the stain this time with an absorbent pad and allow it to remain as long as any stain is being lifted.
  • Keep stain and pad moist with wet spotter and ammonia.
  • Flush with water and allow to dry.

Washable Fabrics

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from washable fabrics such as Acrylic Fabric, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester and Spandex:

  • Presoak (the method of soaking in the washer or in a sink or tub before washing) in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing or laundry detergent, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 15 minutes.
  • Rinse well.
  • Launder as soon as possible.

If stain still remains:

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  • Mix a solution of 1 tablespoon ammonia to 1 cup water.
  • Be sure to test on a hidden seam first, then carefully, using an eyedropper, drop solution onto stain.
  • Blot with an absorbent pad.
  • Flush with clear water.
  • Place an absorbent pad over the stain and weight it down.
  • When no more liquid is absorbed, allow it to thoroughly air dry.

Household Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from household surfaces such as Acrylic Plastic, Aluminum, Bamboo, Cane, Ceramic, Glass/Tile,

Glass, Paint/Flat, Paint/Gloss, Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Vinyl Clothing and Vinyl Wallcovering:

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  • Immediately wipe up the spill with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

Alabaster and Marble

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from Alabaster and Marble:

  • Immediately wipe up the spill with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

If a stain persists:

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  • Soak an absorbent pad in rubbing alcohol, wring almost dry, and place over the stain.
  • Wait 5 minutes and apply an absorbent pad soaked in ammonia and squeezed nearly dry.
  • Alternate alcohol and ammonia pads until stain has been removed.
  • Wipe surface with a cloth moistened with cool clear water and wipe dry with a clean cloth.

Flooring Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from flooring surfaces such as Asphalt, Cork, Linoleum and Vinyl Tile:

  • Wipe up any excess with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

If a stain persists:

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  • Cover the stain with an absorbent pad soaked in rubbing alcohol.
  • Let it remain in place for several minutes, then wipe the area with a cloth dampened with ammonia.
  • Do not use ammonia on linoleum or vinyl floor tile.
  • Rinse well with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water and re-wipe with a cloth dampened with clear water.
  • Allow to dry and polish or wax the surface.

Stone Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from stone surfaces such as Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Masonry Tile, Sandstone, Slate and Terrazzo:

  • Wipe up the excess dye.
  • Wash with a solution of washing soda or detergent (not soap) and water.
  • Use a cloth or soft-bristled brush to help scrub.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clear water and allow to dry.

Wool Carpet, Silk and Wool

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from Wool Carpet, SiIk and Wool:

  • Sponge with water, then apply a wet spotter and a few drops of white vinegar.
  • Blot frequently as the stain is loosened. Keep the stain moist with wet spotter and vinegar.
  • Flush with water when no more stain is removed.

If stain remains:

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  • Apply rubbing alcohol to1 the stain and cover with an absorbent pad moistened with alcohol. Let it remain as long as stain is being removed.
  • Change the pad as it picks up the stain.
  • Keep the stain and pad moist with alcohol.
  • Allow to air dry.

Cotton and Linen

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from Cotton and Linen:

  • Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse with water.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol and tamp (the method of bringing a brush down with light strokes on stained durable fabrics and materials) or scrape (the method of using a scraping tool to gently lift off excess solid or caked-on stains).
  • Keep the stain moist with alcohol and blot occasionally.
  • Continue as long as stain is being removed.
  • Flush with water and allow to dry.
  • Launder as soon as possible.

Grout

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from Grout:

  • Wipe up excess with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water.

If any stain persists:

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  • Dip a wet toothbrush into baking soda or powdered cleanser.
  • Gently scrub the spot.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

Leather and Suede

Dye will immediately change the color of leather and suede. Once contact has been made, there is no way to remove the stain.

Wood

Follow these steps to remove food coloring and hair dye stains from Wood:

  • Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds.
  • Dip a cloth in only the foam and apply.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth moistened with clear water.
  • Polish or wax as soon as possible.