How to Remove Hair Dye Stains

The removal of hair dye stains can be tricky, simply because the nature of the product is to dye something. When the stain is on your skin, options for removal are open to whatever your skin is able to tolerate, without a nasty reaction; however, in your quest to hide the grey, your clothes, floor, countertop, or furnture may take a hit, then you're going to want to be a bit more judicious (and patient) in your choice of hair dye stain remover. Commercial products can always be tried, but we're going to focus mainly on home solutions that can be found in your cupboard. If one hair dye stain removal solution doesn't work for you, simply breathe and try another.

Hair dye stain removal

Removing Hair Dye Stains from Skin

The hair dye stain on you face, neck, or hands should come off easily with a cotton ball and one of the following:

  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Baby oil

Simply do the following to remove the hair dye stain:

  1. Apply a small amount of one of these to a cotton ball
  2. Wipe off the hair dye
  3. Repeat as needed until stain is removed

If one of these home rememdies doesn't work, try a Magic Eraser sponge on the affected area (Use caution here, as they're not really magic and have formaldehyde in them). Chances are one of these solutions will do the trick and you will be beautiful for the ball in no time. 

Removing Hair Dye Stains from Fabric

If you have a hair dye stain on fabric, don't wait too long before tending to it, as it will become permanent the longer it sits. If it's fresh, you can simply wash the fabric or garment immediately with detergent and water and this will often take care of the problem. However, if it's not noticed until later a bit more elbow grease will likely be needed. Be sure to blot, not rub when working with fabric and use a white cloth, so as not to transfer other dyes.

You will need the following when working with cotton or other natural fibers: 

Launder clothing according to directions after completing the following steps:

  1. Make a paste of lemon juice, cream of tarter, and detergent.
  2. Work into stain with a soft white cloth.
  3. blot stain with clean area of cloth to absorb stain.
  4. Repeat as needed until stain is removed.

Don't put  garment in the dryer or apply heat before checking if hair dye has been removed, because any chance of  removing the stain thereafter will be gone.

Removing Hair Dye Stains from Synthetic Fabrics

The same basic principles apply to synthetic fabrics, like polyester, if the stain is caught when it first happens--detergent and water will likely remove it, if not try the following:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Vinegar
  • Soft clean white cloth

Clean, white cloths are a necessity, so as not to transfer others dyes to the already stained area. Again, blotting is important as it absorbs the dye into the new cloth, instead of spreading the stain.

To remove a hairdye stain from a synthetic fabric do the following:

  1. Apply a small amount of one of the above  to the affected area
  2. Blot with a soft white cloth until stain is removed

Launder garment as usual or clean area with detergent and water, taking care to rinse thoroughly.

Removing Hair Dye From Other Surfaces

Hair dye stains on furniture, countertops, walls, and floors can all benefit from use of the same remedies:

  • A vinegar and baking soda paste.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste.
  • A 1:1 ratio of lemon juice and vinegar.
  • A soft cloth or brush.

Do one of the following  to remove a hair dye stain from one of the above hard surfaces:

  1. Mix together enough of either the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to make a paste; rub into the stain with a soft cloth or brush. Repeat process until stain is gone.
  2. Mix equal parts lemon juice and vinegar and rub into stain. Repeat process until stain is removed.

These household mainstays have been cleaning stains and other things for many years.

Chemicals of Dark Hair Dye

Mostly everyone reads the warning on a box of hair dye about doing a "patch test" prior to using the product and it's likely ignored by many. Common chemicals found in hair dyes are ammonia and peroxide, which we're all familiar with and  are therefore not-so-concerned. But peroxide may not be the problem--p-Phenylenediamine (para-fen-i-leen-di-a-meen) and any of its aliases could be.

Also known as:

  • PPD
  • 1,4-Benzenediamine
  • 1,4-Penylenediamine
  • Rodol D
  • Para-aminoaniline (p-aminoaniline)
  • PPDA
  • Osin
  • Ursol D
  • Paradiaminobenzene

Para-phenylenediamine is a dark dye used in permanent hair coloring, as well as some dark cosmetics, and temporary tatoos. It is reported to cause a severe form of allergic contact dermatitis.

Hair dyes are now manufactured with less p-Phenylenediamine and more botanical based options. There is also an an industry trend toward  a greater selection of semi-permenent and temporary dyes that don't contain the chemical.