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Cleaning Up Dye

Published on 5th 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.

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.

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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