Ask The Clothing Doctor

Welcome to the CSC ServiceWorks laundry forum! I am Steve Boorstein, The Clothing Doctor. I will be your clothing care expert. I spent 20 years in the high-end drycleaning business, but I've also written four books on laundry and hosted two DVDs on clothing care, so I know about dirty laundry! Write me about caring for everything made from fabric; washing, cleaning, stain removal and storage.

Before I begin answering questions, let's get a few facts straight:

Before you treat a stain, make sure you know if it's watery or oily!

  • Water-based stains contain water, NO oil.
    • You can identify water-based stains such as coffee, wine, beer and blood because they have a ring around the outside (like a road map).
    • Water-based stains need water or club soda (and an occasional "stain stick").
  • Oil-based stains contain oil, but NO water, so water and soap will not help to remove them!
    • Oil-based stains such as butter, mayonnaise, and olive oil will look blotchy and have NO ring around the stain.
    • Most oily stains require drycleaning.
    • Oily stains that do not come out in the wash will look blotchy after washing.

Know a few first aid hints:

  • Never rub a fabric — blot only with a dry white cloth or napkin.
  • Be careful about putting water or club soda on dryclean-only clothing, such as silk and acetate, because they can bleed the dye and cause rings.
  • If in doubt, blot with a dry white cloth and STOP, until you can write me or show the garment to a professional.

Click on a category below to see frequently asked questions along with my helpful hints to keep your laundry clean!

Clothing Care
Color Bleeding

I put a few things in the dryer with a friends clothes. When I took the clothes out, I saw a little blue-ish stain on my white cotton shirt. I tried using a stain stick to get it out and washed again, but it didn't really help. It's been about 2 months. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the stain? Should I take it to a dry cleaner? I really love the shirt, so if there's ANYTHING I could do to save it, that would be amazing!
- Samantha

Answer: Samantha, the white shirt could have picked up—or touched up against—some loose dye from something in the load, or the blueish spot could be a latent stain that showed up after washing and drying. If it is dye from another garment or from food coloring, the two month wait should not be a problem. You can try soaking the shirt in color-safe bleach for 30-60 minutes and then re-washing, but do NOT tumble dry. If that doesn't work, and it is dye, an experienced drycleaner should be able to apply a dye stripper, which can fade or possibly remove the spot!

Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I wore a brand new green 100% cotton t-shirt with a pair of white jeans (98% cotton; 2% spandex) and when I got home my jeans had green mostly on the belt loops. I haven't washed them at all and it has been a couple of weeks since it happened. What do you recommend? Thanks!
- Camille

Answer: Camille, this is an unfortunate but common occurrence; a dark belt on the waste bleeds onto the white silk blouse under it; a green T-shirt can bleed onto white items … I'm guessing the jeans or the green T got wet from water or perspiration? Bottom line, all deep colors should be washed before wearing the first time, especially with white items! You can try treating the belt loops with a stain remover, followed by washing—but DO NOT TUMBLE DRY, until you are sure the green is out. If that doesn't work, a good drycleaner should be able to "strip out" the remaining green dye, after washing.

The Clothing Doctor

Hi, the white sleeves of my blue hoodie turned light pink after I accidentaly mixed it with red skinny jeans. I don't know how to remove the light pink colour.
- Shayne

Answer: Shayne, this is a very difficult and time-consuming restoration. If you try to "strip" the dye out of the sleeves (with pink being the most difficult to remove), the blue part of the hoodie will suffer and loose color. Just rewashing the hoodie, without the skinny jeans, may not remove the red/pink residue. But after rewashing, assuming it does no good, I think you would have to have the sleeves removed and dye-stripped at the cleaners, and then sewn back on. I warn you though, that the pink may still not come out, even after washing and stripping. Buy a new one??

Good Luck - The Clothing Doctor

Help Please! My denim blue jeans (that have been washed several times) rubbed off on my white satin Coach purse. The purse is not pure white, it also has purple and brown colored "C's" on it. What do I do? Thanks!
- Jill

Answer: Jill, I don't know if the jeans are an Indigo dye, but it sounds like it, which means that they could bleed and "crock" for a while longer. Given that it's a satin fabric—and depending on the amount of dye—it may be impossible or risky for you to try and remove the dye on your own, without spreading or worsening the condition. I suggest you consult the best drycleaner in your town. I can suggest cleaners … Let me know.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

I wore a blue shirt that had been previously washed over a white bra. Even though neither got wet, the blue rubbed all over my new white bra. What should I do before washing the bra?
- Annette

Answer: Annette, the best thing you can do, assuming the bra is nylon or some synthetic, is to take a worn out toothbrush (or any soft-bristled brush), wet it with water and detergent, and brush the "rubbed" dye, until it starts to break down. Then rewash, as hot as is safe—and then AIR DRY. If that doesn't work, then you could try a dye-stripper from RIT, or some other brand. As for your blue shirt, I would rewash that many times to diminish the lose dye, so it won't happen again!

The Clothing Doctor

Hi! I purchased a blue and green cotton T-shirt yesterday and put it in cold water for soaking - I removed it after a couple of hours and dried it in shade. Much to my dismay, I had forgotten to remove the dark blue price tag before soaking it in the bucket and now there are blue blotches on my new T-shirt where the price tag touched the fabric. The price tag looked like made from hand-made paper or the like. Please help me in how I can remove the stains. Thanks a lot!!
- Niranjan Shukla

Answer: Nir, that presents a whole lotta trouble, because blue dye is extremely hard to remove from green & blue (opposed to white), without "pulling" or dulling the color of the T-shirt. You can try pretreating the spots with detergent and water, and rewashing, but other than that it's a crap shoot :)

The Clothing Doctor

I wore a red top underneath a cream lace blouse - long sleeves. The red bled underneath the armpits. Is it possible for me to remove the bleeding? Thank you for your response.
- Nancy Ugarte

Answer: Nancy, If the cream blouse is washable, then apply some detergent to the underarms and rewash as hot as possible. Then air dry. If stains remain, but have improved, then do it again. If they still persist, soak the shirt in color safe bleach for 1-2 hours. If still there, and it's worth the effort and price, then tale it to the BEST drycleaner in town to remove the last trace of red.

The Clothing Doctor

I washed a vivid teal dress (55% hemp/45% cotton) with black leggings (cotton/modal/spandex) and ended up with dark splotches all over the dress. Both items are washable in cold water and both have been washed multiple times before! For this reason, I did not anticipate a problem washing them together. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you!
- Jeannot Gangwisch

Answer: Jeannot, regardless of the history, you should never wash BLACK, purple, navy, and other dark colors with lighter colors, even if they performed well, alone. As for restoration, it's gonna be tough, and you may need professional help. Still, getting black our of multi-colored hemp and cotton requires dye-stripping and years of talent … and a lot of luck! Sorry I couldn't be of more help!

The Clothing Doctor

Hi my sweater is beige and is made of 81% cotton 17% nylon and 2 % spandex. It's meant to be machine washed cold. It's a size small. I noticed some blue in the armpits and I think it's from the dye in my dark blue jeans. I have washed jeans lots so I assumed all the dye was gone. The blue color is just in the armpits and I want it gone! Any ideas!?
- Grace

Answer: Grace, you can try rewashing the sweater alone or with other light-colored items, and then air dry so as not to "set" the stains. These are typical dye transfer stains, which usually occurs from a blue blouse bleeding onto the pits of the sweater, but from blue jeans? Anyway, the underarms may require a light dye stripping by your drycleaner. Good luck!

The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I have a tan 100% T-shirt that has writing on it. A dark green bandana accidentally got thrown in with the same load of laundry and I didn't realize it until after I was already taking them out of the dryer and folding them. The tan shirt has green splotches all over the bottom, front half of the shirt. Is there anything I can do to restore it? Thanks!
- Alyssa Morris

Answer: Alyssa, I am sorry to hear that! Removing green "transfer" dye from a cotton tan T is almost impossible. The problem is that dye strippers—which can easily remove the green dye—will also remove much of the tan dye in the shirt. You can try rewashing (and air drying) to see if that fades the green dye, but you will probably have to disguise it or cover the areas, or incorporate the green into some color scheme! Last options would be either stripping out all the dye, or bleaching the T as white as possible. Sorry I don't have an easy fix for you.

The Clothing Doctor

I made a linen jacket and put it in a new plastic bag in my car; hours later when I took it out, it's turned pink along the color -- what happened and how do I fix it, please?!
- Marge

Answer: Marge, I'm guessing that you meant it turned pink along the COLLAR? Since you made it, I can ask if you put facing or lining behind the collar that could have contributed to the pink coloration. Was there any dye or color on the plastic? The heat of the car against the plastic may have brought out some color? I need to know more information. Thanks

The Clothing Doctor

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