Hair color can be extremely difficult to remove from any kind of surface. And unfortunately for t-shirt lovers, cotton is a particularly absorbent fabric and will soak up hair color very quickly. To be able to remove any of the hair color from a t-shirt, it will be necessary to move quickly and to keep attacking the stain until it’s gone. For some stains and with some t-shirt colors, it may not be possible to remove all of the hair color from the fabric.
The stain should first be blotted to remove as much of the hair color as possible. Once the hair color soaks into the fabric and dries, there will be little that can be done about the stain. Use a little rubbing alcohol to blot the hair color to remove it more easily. The hair color should be blotted until no more of it is coming away from the fabric.
If the t-shirt is white, some bleach can then be applied to it. If the shirt is a different color, bleach will only create a worse area of discoloration. A colored t-shirt can be treated by soaking the shirt in cold water and using a pre-treating liquid to try to lift the stain. If this doesn’t work, a little turpentine may help the hair color to come out. Before using turpentine on the t-shirt, test it on a small, out of the way spot of the fabric to make sure it will not strip the color out of the shirt.
A colored t-shirt may also respond well to nail polish remover to remove the stain. If the remover is applied with a cotton swab directly to the stain, it could lighten it enough to make it blend in with the rest of the shirt. This will not work well, of course, with a dark-colored t-shirt. This method should also be color-tested before being used.
If the t-shirt is black and the hair color was blonde or a color much lighter than the black of the shirt, there is no way to remove the stain and restore the black dye of the t-shirt. What needs to be done is to color over the stain to make it black again. This can be done easily with a permanent marker.
Color-safe bleach should be used to wash a colored t-shirt with. This will keep the color of the shirt while applying the maximum cleaning power to the stain. A white shirt will probably have to be washed in chlorine bleach to fully remove the stain.
Hydrogen peroxide or dye removers may work in some cases. Peroxide can be poured through the stain after a color-safe test has been done. It can also be dabbed in small amounts directly onto the hair color. Color removers are available in many drug stores and in grocery store laundry aisles, but they may leave a worse color behind. If a dark t-shirt has been stained with hair color, a color remover may cause more discoloration. These removers may work well with white or very light colored shirts. To use these, follow the directions on the box.