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  • ALWAYS check the packaging before using a cleaning product
  • Wear protective clothing such as gloves and masks where required
  • Never mix cleaning products. Rinse each product away before using a new one

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Cleaning Up Dye

5 July 2004

Your hair looks fantastic but your bathroom looks like a giant paint ball just hit. Here’s how to clean it up. Most people who have dyed their own hair before will be familiar with having the odd 'accident’. No, not that kind – the dye all over the floor kind. Remove those dye stains before your family/friends/landlord kick you out of the house!

Safety Precautions
This bit is important so don’t skim it.
When using cleaning products you really have to follow the manufacturers instructions. Not only can cleaning products damage your skin, make you ill and ruin expensive stuff, used wrongly they can really harm you (more about that in a second).

A few basic guidelines to follow are:

  • Never mix cleaning products. They can react and make very harmful gases.
  • Keep cleaning stuff away from pets and kids
  • Always wear protective clothing, e.g. rubber gloves (read the instructions)
  • Don’t mix your cleaning stuff with your food stuff (obvious but some people are stupid)
* Don’t use bleach on metal, especially chrome * Don’t use bleach on textiles * Follow the instructions on the packaging if you’re not sure about how/where to use it. Surfaces
Before you start with the cleaning products rinse the stain well with warm water and try rubbing it with the rough side of a dish washing sponge. If it hasn’t shifted read on…

Bath tubs and showers
Bath tubs and shower trays are usually made of out ceramic or plastic. With the ceramic variety you can just pour on household bleach, rub it around with an old sponge, leave it for 5 minutes and the stain should be gone. Rinse well afterwards. If that doesn’t work try a scouring bleach such as Ajax (it’s that weird powdered stuff in a tin). Just follow the instructions and pay attention to the bit about which surfaces not to use it on.
On the plastic baths it’s generally not a good idea to use something like Ajax in case it scratches it. Don’t use scouring pads either because they’ll have the same effect. Use diluted bleach and rub it well in. Usually hair dye just sticks to any grime in the bath so rubbing it well should get rid of the stains. You can try bathroom cleaner too but not at the same time. Remember what I said about mixing cleaning products being a bad idea?

Glass (as in shower doors etc.)
This one’s easy. Not much will stain glass. Give it a rub with the a sponge and the stain should come off. Otherwise window cleaner, neat washing up liquid (use the very concentrated kind such as Fairy) or diluted bleach will shift it.

Tiles and Grouting
Tiles are pretty easy to clean. Stains usually come off by rubbing in diluted bleach. If the tiles are old, hand painted or expensive get advice from someone who knows before using chemicals on them in case it has a bad effect. Washing up liquid should be fine though.
For grouting use neat household bleach and allow it to sit for 20 minutes or so. Give it a scrub with the sponge to help the process along a bit. Don’t forget to rinse away the bleach afterwards.

If you spill dye on wood wipe it up with a damp cloth ASAP. Wood is susceptible to staining even when it’s varnished. Try using dish washing liquid. Don’t use bleach or scourers – you’ll only ruin the wood. On lacquered or glossed wood you may have to repaint. Varnished wood may need to be sanded back and re varnished so don’t go near any antiques when you’re dyeing your hair!

Kitchen work tops, Melamine and other kitchen items
Kitchen stuff is pretty robust so you can use a variety of kitchen cleaning products on stains. Use anything that is suitable for kitchen work tops. If you’re using bleach dilute it heavily as it can contaminate food. I find anti-bac spray is good at stain removal – just allow it to sit on the stain for half an hour or so if the manufacturer’s instructions don’t say otherwise.

Let them soak in soapy water for a few hours. That usually fixes it.

Vinyl and Linoleum
Never ever let dye get on this stuff. There is no known cure (let me know if you have one). Don’t use neat bleach on patterned Vinyl since it can kill the print.

Carpet and Soft Furnishings
First thing to do if you spill dye on the carpet is to remove the excess with a paper towel or old cloth. Don’t rub it, blot it so you don’t spread the spill. Get a clean cloth and use some diluted washing up liquid and rub it carefully to take most of the dye out. If that doesn’t get it all out then dry the area off and use carpet or upholstery cleaner on it. Check the instructions and beware that some carpets are not colourfast and can be damaged by cleaning fluid.

Clothing, Bed Sheets, Towels and Bath Mats
Anything that can go in the washing machine should go in as soon as possible on as hot a setting as it can take. Check the washing instructions first. If the stain has dried in try pre-soaking the item.
If it’s just a bit of dye rubbing off your hair you’ll find that this washes out of most fabric within 1 or 2 washes so don’t worry.


  • Well, for linoleum, it worked if I scrubbed it with shampoo...this was actually an accident...also, laundry detergents work to the same effect... Report Comment
  • nail polish remover actually works suprisingly well Report Comment
  • If you get it on your clothes, use a "shout stain Stick" and leave it for about three days then wash it. got black and pink hair dye off my white circa hoodie. :D Report Comment
  • I like to use Stridex or other Acne products. It's probably a lot like rubbing alcohol (which is gross if you think about putting that on your face) but It takes it off pretty well. This also works for If you get it on your face. ^_^ Report Comment
  • I've found that plain alcohol works really well on my bathroom, even better than dish washing soap, etc. Report Comment
  • I find that toothpaste works really well on the counter and on the shower surfaces. I just realized now that it would be a lot easier just to get EVERY SINGLE SURFACE in the bathroom/kitchen COMPLETELY WET before you even take out the dye. Then even if there is a permanent stain, it'll at least be really diluted so it's not as noticeable. To me, the most important thing to remember is to clean a stain AS SOON as you see it. That way you might not have to use harsh chemicals. Report Comment
  • I always use toothpaste, and it's never let me down yet. My entire sink was bright purple and it got rid of it; the regular white stuff doesn't work though, it has to be the whitening kind with baking soda. It hasn't scratched any surface I've put it on yet. :) Report Comment
  • ya, Guitar_Insanity is super right. I have used nail polish remover on more than hair dye stains. It is the best. Put some on a cottonball and use on your stained skin. I used it on paint scratches from pots and pans in the kitchen sink. i've even used it to remove a silver metal scratch in my perfect porcelain throne bowl. Just goes to show, don't leave it to someone else to clean there own mess without damaging something. argh. Report Comment
  • Yet another way if you don't want to use chemicals is soap and a sponge. Nail polish remover works well, but my skin hates it. So I used soap - just a cheap, usual soap bar in combination with a dish washing sponge. (Not the metal kind of sponge!) It always worked very well for me, in the bathtub as well as on skin, if you do it as soon as possible. After all, it got rid of a Plum (Directions) stained bathtub, and the Plum is one of the heaviest stainers ever! Report Comment
  • Be careful with nail polish remover as it can take the finish off porcelain and can dull and degrade plastic surfaces, not to mention take the varnish off stained wood and remove the pattern from vinyl flooring. Here's another article you may be interested in: Report Comment
  • Surgical Spirit i found was good for the ceramic bath Report Comment
  • I always used rubbing alcohol (the regular 70% stuff) for hard surfaces in the bathroom like counters, sinks, etc. and had decent results most of the time... then my boyfriend introduced me to 91% rubbing alcohol. Man, does that stuff redeem your sins! I've found that I've got at least a 15-20 minute window to catch dye on hard, non-porous surfaces before I even have to start to worry about it setting in... and I've actually managed to remove a couple purple spots that I didn't find until DAYS later. It's a godsend when living in an apartment - I've managed to get quite a bit of purple hair dye on various bathroom surfaces and no one will ever be the wiser because it hasn't left even the slightest trace. Report Comment
  • Any tips on walls? Report Comment
  • My bath tub is ceramic I'm pretty sure and honestly because I'm lazy I leave the purple tint left from washing out the dye in the tub and within a few days there's no trace any dye was ever there. Otherwise I find it's best to try to clean up small spots as soon as possible. Report Comment
  • Typically I'll use whatever bathroom cleaner we already have, and if that doesn't work, than I use Ajax powder. Very important that you get the POWDER version. That will get just about anything out with more than one application over a few hours to few days and some "elbow grease". :) Report Comment
  • If you're worried about chemicals in powders (such as Ajax), Bon Ami (which I know is available in the US) works really well and doesn't contain bleach. It's taken days old stains out of my sink counter top. I tried using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on a white wall, and that took off the dye stains but it also left the paint looking a little less shiny, for whatever that indicates. Other methods, such as bon ami and scrubbing with a sponge and dish soap, stripped the paint. Report Comment

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