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how to remove hair dye from carpet

4 DIY Ways How To Remove Hair Dye From Carpet

March 30, 2021 / 0 Comments

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Home coloring your hair is something many of us have learned to do with lockdowns or to cut some corners and costs. However, it can be a messy process, and you could end up with blobs and splashes of hair dye all over your favorite carpet. What now? Learn how to remove hair dye from your carpet in four easy ways.

With hair dye being made to color things (most notably your hair), it’s a tough customer to get out of rugs and carpets. You can be forgiven for thinking the only solution is to cut the carpet and get a replacement square or throw out that beautiful rug your grandmother got you.

The problem with carpet stains is they happen when you are least prepared. Frantically opening your supply closet, you are faced with toilet cleaners and softener, which won’t help at all. Luckily, your kitchen holds the answer.

With some basic home essentials you will find in most kitchens, you can clean hair dye from carpet like a pro.

Why Is Hair Dye So Hard To Remove From Carpets?

Short answer: it’s made to last. We buy hair dyes that offer lasting color as this makes our hair color stay longer, making it worth the cost. But when it comes to stains, we want to have that color out ASAP. Hair dye is a chemical compound, and it will stick around unless you treat it quickly and effectively.

Why Is Hair Dye So Hard To Remove From Carpets?

Since it is a chemical stain, you need a chemical solution. The worst hair dye stains are those that are from dyes with red pigment or the dreaded blue hair dye. Simply scrubbing these will only drive the pigment deeper into the carpet fibers. A cleaning solution that lifts the stain by releasing the chemicals that have bound the pigment to your carpet fibers is the best option.

Be sure to use cold water when mixing and applying any cleaning solution to a new dye stain on your carpet as warm water will open and soften the carpet fibers, making it absorb more of the hair dye pigment, worsening the stain.

Only use warm water when the stain is already dry and you are struggling to clean up the stain with cold water cleaning solutions.

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Pretreatment: How To Get Hair Dye Off Carpet

With hair dye, the longer you leave it, the worse the stain will be. It’s a great idea to jump in and clean up as much as you can of the stain before it sets and to minimize the amount of dye that can react with your favorite carpet.

Start by gently lifting excess dye off the carpet with a dull knife or the end of a spoon. Don’t rub or scrape as this will only work the dye deeper into the carpet pile. When you have the most of the visible dye off the carpet, you can take some dry paper toweling and gently dab at the stain until the towel seems to be clear, indicating that no more loose dye is coming off.

Now it’s time to pray a little and run to the kitchen. You will need:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Vinegar and/or baking soda
  • Rubbing or denatured alcohol
  • An oxy cleaning product
  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Ammonia or bleach based cleaner
  • Peroxide (as a last resort)

I’d also recommend heavy-duty household gloves, more paper toweling, a stiff bristled brush or an old toothbrush, some rags or a sponge, and a bucket.

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How To Remove Hair Dye From Carpet In 4 Easy Steps

Whichever cleaning solution you choose, you would follow the same four steps to lift the last color from the stain. Regardless of whether you choose a household cleaning item such as vinegar or baking soda or a commercial cleaning product, you should take care to do a color test on an out of the way corner of the carpet.

A small stain from hair dye might still be hidden with an area rug or a carefully positioned pot plant, but there’s little you can do if your cleaning efforts bleaches an entire section of carpet.

How To Do A Color Fastness Test

A color fastness test works the same as the sensitivity test that all hair dyes recommend you perform before coloring. Take a small amount of the cleaning solution you wish to use, apply it to an out of the way area such as in a cupboard or under a sofa.

Leave the solution for five minutes, then rinse and dab dry with paper toweling. See whether there is any fading or color bleed from the treated area. If not, then you are good to go.

Step 1: Finish Blotting

Once you have all the cleaning options ready, you may want to apply a little cold water and vinegar to start with, gently dabbing at the stain with paper toweling. When the toweling still comes away with color on it, this means the stain is still releasing pigment and is lifting. If the towel comes off clean, but the stain is still on your carpet, then it’s time to try a stronger cleaning solution. 

Step 2: Apply Cleaning Solution

Be sure to treat only the area of the stain with any of the following cleaning solutions after you have tested it on an out of the way area to see if the carpet is color fast. 

Vinegar And Baking Soda

In a container, mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda with a little cold water (you can also add a little dishwashing liquid). It should make a runny paste. Apply with the back of a spoon to the affected area and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then gently scrape off the excess paste before wiping with a wet sponge.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

Check if the stain has been fully lifted. Repeat if necessary. You can also use more baking soda to make a thicker paste that you allow to dry slightly before removing from the carpet.

Rubbing Or Denatured Alcohol

Using a clean sponge, you can apply small quantities of rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol. Gently dab the alcohol onto the stain and then clean off with a fresh kitchen towel.

If the stain still persists, you may need to gently open the carpet pile with the back of a knife by folding the fibers out of the way while you apply the alcohol with a dripper, old syringe, or a spoon. Try not to rub too vigorously as this might spread the stain deeper.

Allow the alcohol to dry, and if you are satisfied the stain is fully lifted, you can wash the carpet as normal with carpet shampoo. Be careful with denatured alcohol as it is quite toxic, though it dries quickly and is great for stains.

OxyClean

Using a non-ammonia or non-peroxide cleaner such as OxyClean is also a great way to remove stains from carpets and furniture. Be aware though that it has a bleaching action, and it will likely make the area you treat cleaner than the rest, so you need to consider adding a little OxyClean to your regular cleaning shampoo so you can achieve an even finish.

To use OxyClean, simply add a tablespoon of the crystals or one of the Power Paks from the container to some cold water, making a paste. Apply to the stain with the back of a spoon, allowing it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping off with a sponge and washing lightly with clean and cold water. Repeat if necessary.

Clarifying Shampoo

A clarifying shampoo is designed to remove hair products, and it is a great option for removing stains from skin, so why not carpeting? Again, remember to do a color fastness test no matter which shampoo you choose to use. I like Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo, which is designed to remove build-up from hair.

Mix the shampoo in a 50% solution of shampoo and cold water. Apply to the stain and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently dab off excess shampoo with a sponge, then wash the area with clear cold water. You can repeat if necessary. Dab at the stain with kitchen toweling. If the toweling has no stain on it, but the carpet is still stained, it means you need to go even more aggressive in your solution choice.

Ammonia Or Bleach Based Cleaner

Add a tablespoon of ammonia to two cups of cold water, perform the color fastness test, and if your carpet doesn’t react, you can dab this solution to the stain with a sponge. Dab little bits, working from the outside in, adding more solution as necessary. Once the stain has lifted, you can dab the area dry with paper toweling, and then wash as normal.

Peroxide

Okay, so you’ve tried everything, and your carpet simply won’t let go of that nasty stain. If it’s a white carpet, you’re in luck as you can use stronger bleach and even peroxide to remove the last stubborn stains.

Carefully apply really small amounts of peroxide with a dripper or a spoon to the stain, dabbing with a paper towel in between. Once the stain is lifted, wash with shampoo and water.

Step 3: Rub-A-Dub-Scrub

Throughout the cleaning process, it’s important to resist the urge to scrub. Hair dye is a chemical compound, and you need to let the chemicals of your cleaning solutions do their work without you trying to scrub things up.

My favorite way to remind myself not to get physically aggressive on that stain is to say “Rub-a-dub-scrub.” This means I can gently rub excess product as a means of how to get hair dye off carpet.

Next, I can dab on cleaning solutions as needed. Finally, when I get to the post-stain wash, I can scrub like mad if I choose or simply use a carpet shampoo machine or wet/dry vacuum. There are some amazing machines on the market that will help lift the last little bits of hair dye off the carpet fibers.

Step 4: Post Clean Wash And Vac

Once your stain is gone, you can clean off the area with a good shampoo session and careful vacuuming. I start by vacuuming the area with a wet/dry vacuum machine like the STANLEY Wet/Dry Vacuum SL18115, followed by a careful shampoo clean using a high-quality carpet shampoo like 3D Upholstery & Carpet Shampoo, which is actually for car interiors but works great on home carpets too.

If your stained area is lighter in color than the rest of your carpet, then you may need to add a little bit of the stain remover you used to some water and run that through your carpet washer to get a similar tone all throughout the carpet.

Post Clean Wash And Vac

Don’t be stingy either. You can do more than one wash and vac sessions to restore your carpet to its former glory. This is not only to remove the last micro pigments from the hair dye stain but also to remove any build up of cleaning solutions you may have applied to clean off the stain from your carpet.

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What About Commercial Hair Dye On Carpet Stain Removal?

There are a number of professional hair dye stain removal products available. I like the following ones, and I try to keep some on the shelf at home for when I home color:

Roux Roux Clean Touch Hair Color Stain Remover

This nifty product is great for cleaning up hair dye spills and stains on your skin, clothes, and also carpeting. Simply pat a small amount of the stain remover onto the stained area after the initial blotting to remove excess dye. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then gently sponge off the area with cool water.

King Research Dy-Zoff Lotion

Like the Roux Roux product, this hair dye remover can also lift stains from clothes and carpets. Be warned, the smell is quite something, and you need to be sure about the color fastness of your carpet before trying this option.

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How Do You Get Hair Dye Out Of Carpet FAQs

You may have many questions about your own hair dye carpet stain adventures. Here are some of my best answers:

How Do You Get Dried Hair Dye Out Of Carpet?

In this case, you need to use a warm water solution to thoroughly wet the dye again, so you can effectively deal with the hair dye on your carpet. Once the area is soaked, you can add warm water with vinegar to the area, letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before sponging off with cool water and dabbing at the stain with a clean paper towel.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Take Color Out Of Carpet?

The safest way to use hydrogen peroxide as a way to get hair dye off carpet is to opt for the 3% solution instead of the 6% solution; the latter is much stronger and will likely strip your carpet’s color. Be sure to test the solution on an out of the way area of carpet.

Will OxiClean Remove Hair Dye?

OxiClean is a great way to clean up stains from carpets without using bleach or ammonia containing products. Simply mix the crystals with some cold water, making a paste, which you can apply to the stained area. Let the powder sit on the stain, enjoying the bubbling as the chemicals react to lift the hair dye stain away.

Will Vinegar Take Color Out Of Carpet?

Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner, and you can quite safely wash the hair dye stain out of your carpets by mixing a solution of two cups of cold water to one tablespoon of vinegar. Using this solution, and you can add some dishwashing liquid too if you want to have some soapy fun, will remove the color of the hair dye, lifting the stain away.

How Do You Get Hair Dye Out Of Carpet Without Vinegar?

So, you did the color fastness test, and oops, vinegar lifts your carpet color. No worries. There are other ways of how to get hair dye out of carpet.

Baby shampoo is a great alternative. Simply wet the area, allow the fibers to soak in cold water, then apply a small amount of baby shampoo and gently scrub with a firm bristled brush or a toothbrush. Rinse the stain with cool water and dry before vacuuming.

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The Final Scrub

Getting hair dye on carpet is the easiest of spills, especially when you’re concentrating on not staining yourself or the nearby furniture. However, lifting hair dye stains from carpeting can be a challenge. Luckily, this four-step guide has made the process less stressful and improved your chances of a successful hair dye stain clean up by 100%.

Have you had any hair dye accidents on your carpets? How did you deal with the stain? Please share some before and after photos on our social media.

About Maricel Dee

Maricel Dee is a writer & blogger on all things home improvement. When she's not writing on her favorite home improvement topics, you can find her immersed in her own home projects.

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