how to clean up hair dye messes

by Kaylah Stroup

clean hair dye off sink

This idea for this post popped into my head when I was dyeing my hair last week and accidently flung a huge green glob of dye onto my beautiful, bright white bathroom floor. Totally not a big deal at all though! Coincidentally a few days after starting this draft I got a string of comments from people wanting to know how to clean up hair dye. After all these years I have cleaning up my hair dye messes down to a science. There are tons of different methods and products you could use but these are what I’ve come to trust.

Before you start –

Remove your rugs, and prepare your surfaces. When Jeff and I moved into together I was excited to get all his bright white towels. I got rid of most of my old ones but kept a handful just for when I dye my hair. I lay two on the floor since for some reason I always end up flinging dye down there. Always make sure to check your feet before stepping off the towels too! I recommend using old towels for this. Dye is definitely not easy to get out of towels when directly applied to the fabric.

I place a lap desk in the sink and then cover that with another old towel. I’m a huge fan of my lap desk, as you can see it gets a lot of use. I eat on it, I paint my nails on it, it’s great for writing on, and it makes the perfect surface to set up a hair dye station. Having a flat surface for my tubs of dye to rest on helps minimize the mess since they aren’t falling all over the place. Plus clean up is super simple, you just have to remove the towel and throw it in the wash.

clean up hair dye, hair dye mess in bathroom, clean up punky colours

Clean up time –

As an A+ procrastinator, I know the feeling of “I’ll get that later” all too well but when it comes to cleaning up hair dye sooner really is better. It’s so much easier if you get it cleaned up as soon as you’re done dyeing your hair but fret not, even if you catch a stain a month later it’s still possible to remove it!

My method of clean up is to wipe up any globs of dye up with toilet paper. Take care not to smear the dye around very much, you don’t want an even larger area to clean. Then I spray on some bleach based cleaner, let it sit a few minutes, then wipe clean with a damp rag. I’m actually a huge fan of Target brand cleaner. It works just as well as any brand name. Depending on the color, it normally takes a few applications to get the dye completely up.

If that doesn’t work or isn’t getting it all up, I follow with Bar Keepers Friend. This is my mom’s favorite cleaning product, and I understand why. This stuff is like magic when it comes to cleaning up messes. It works so well that I don’t recommend buying generic or same thing but different brand. Bar Keepers Friend all the way!

Simply wet the stained area, sprinkle a little Bar Keepers Friend on top, let it sit for a few minutes and scrub it off with a sponge. If the area hasn’t come 100% clean simply repeat the process.

This seems fairly obvious but I highly, highly recommend rinsing the dye out of your hair in the kitchen sink. There will be barely any clean up compared to the crime scene that is a shower after rinsing out dye.

Staying on top of it –

If you’re dyeing your hair bright unnatural colors, chances are when you rinse your hair is never going to run completely clear which means you’re always adding a tiny bit of color to your shower or tub. In the past I just cleaned, probably not as often as I should have, with the bleach cleaner mentioned above. When I moved into this apartment with it’s freshly refinished white claw foot tub I was given specific instructions on what I could and could not do in the tub. One of the things on prohibited list was bleach based cleaners.

Now instead of my not so frequent bleach cleaning, I clean weekly with Mrs. Meyer’s tub and tile cleaner to keep everything bright, and clean. It gets the job done, and it smells SO nice. I could seriously write a whole post about how much I love Mrs. Meyer’s products. This is the cheesiest sentence I’ve ever written on this blog but Mrs. Meyer’s products make cleaning fun, and I’m not even getting paid to say that! I truly, truly LOVE everything Mrs. Meyer’s I’ve ever tried.

satin pillowcase

The other big hair dye clean up question I get is how to stop staining on clothing, hands, pillowcases, etc. Using a high-quality dye is definitely going to help that. Cheap dye stains basically everything but your hair. I always, always, alwaaaays recommend Punky Colours. I never really have any issues with staining after the first two or three days after dyeing. I don’t really think there is any way to stop that though. I simply make sure not to wear white or other light colored tops those first few days.

I’ve never had any issues with staining pillowcases except in rare instances that I’ve gone to bed with wet hair. I did recently switch to a satin pillowcase since I had heard such great things about them and how good they are for your skin and hair. I can’t say enough nice things about it. It basically put an end to my bed head. I wake up with normal looking bangs, not ones that stick straight up! I bought mine in black so that it’d match any bedding I bought in the future. If you’re having issues with pillowcase staining getting one of these could be a two for one deal – no stains + nicer hair in the morning!

As for washing out stains on clothing, and bedding I honestly don’t do anything special. I just wash my clothes as normal. I don’t even have a fancy detergent to recommend to you because I just buy whatever smells the best when I run out. The only items that have stains are those that dye has been applied to specifically, like when a big glob hits the towel on the floor. I do always add Borax to my laundry which might help with removing any color rubbed off onto clothing and bedding.

Good luck! If you have any questions about cleaning up hair dye or about dyeing hair in general, just let me know!



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