tips & tricks tuesdays! - solutions to color bleeding

10:00:00 PM

It's Tips & Tricks Tuesdays again!

This is how it works:

  1. Post a tip, trick or tutorial on your website or blog
  2. Grab a "Tips & Tricks" button from my blog in the right sidebar --> 
  3. Post said button in your tricks post, and link back to my blog
  4. At the bottom of this post, click the "link up" button and follow the directions...let the party begin!
  5. If you have a chance, pop by the other fellow blogger linker-upers at the bottom of this post and share some love!

So today's post is all about color bleeding solutions. I don't know how many times I've prewashed something and then assembled my garment/quilt/project and had a color still bleed - especially with my red and blue fabrics. Gah. So frustrating!

I just recently discovered that there are options for treating your fabrics in order to reduce/eliminate running when you wash. I've tried three: Shout Color Catchers, Retayne, and Synthrapol.

Shout Color Catcher:
specially designed to work like a sponge.  It absorbs and traps loose dyes in the wash, safely locking them away so they can't redeposit other items in the same wash. The sheets are made of rayon, which easily absorb dyes (1). You place a sheet in your washer, start the water, add your soap, then fabric or clothes. Wash as normal, at any temperature, and then remove the sheet before transferring your load to the dryer.

I've used this product the most out of the three; for most fabrics, this has been sufficient. I tested it out on some Kona Red. After 3 washes, a new sheet each time, I was still getting dye picked up on the sheets, although progressively less with each wash.

I have also used it in clothes washes with new jeans, dark shirts, mixed washes, and it's worked well. 

It's relatively inexpensive - about $7 for 24 sheets at the grocery store.

Use this product to 'fix' or set dyes in commercially purchased solid colored cotton fabrics or clothing to prevent color bleeding during washing. 

Soak fabrics in Retayne before washing it for the first time. Use one teaspoon per yard of fabric in a hot (at least 140º F)  soak for 20-30 minutes, with enough water to cover the fabric.

It's then recommended that you then wash in hot water and Synthrapol to get out any remaining "fugitive" dye. (2)

I've tried Retayne on dark blue fabrics, and so far, so good. No running or bleeding.

Synthrapol is an industrial strength, neutral detergent used as a prewash, afterwash or wetting agent for paint and dye. It helps prevent backstaining because of its unique characteristic of keeping loose dye particles in suspension. Synthrapol removes excess dye from fabrics and suspends them in the wash water so they wash away (as a prewash) or don't bond to other fabrics (as a post wash). For cottons, it must be used in hot wash water. (3)

I picked mine up on Amazon; a 4oz bottle cost me about $3.95. It's hard to say how much you'd use - depends on how much fabric you're washing at one time - but about 3 tbsp per 8lb laundry load (3).

So for the same Kona Red above, after I'd washed it 3 times with the Shout sheets, I tried washing it with the Synthrapol. Really easy to do, just follow the directions on the bottle.

As a test, I then washed the same piece of fabric again with a color catcher and got no dye retention in the sheet. No excess dye caught on the sheet!

A word on vinegar:
I guess you could say that it's an 'old wives tale' to use vinegar to set cottons. Vinegar is only a useful fixative for acid-dyed fabrics like silk, wool or nylon - acid dyes aren't used on cottons, substantive (direct) dyes are, hence the need to use products like Retayne as a fixative  (4, 5). 

(1) Extracted October 20, 2012. Johnson & Johnson-Shout it Out:
(2) Extracted October 20, 2012. Darma Trading Co-Retayne:
(3) Extracted October 20, 2012. Jacquard Products-Synthrapol:
(5) Extracted October 20, 2012. Wikipedia-Dye:

You Might Also Like


I ♥ to hear from you!

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment or for asking me a question. Rather email me? Reach out at

I like to email everyone back when they've commented - so if you're a no-reply blogger, make sure to leave your email address in your comment so I can share the love back atcha!