How to remove hair dye from sink

Hair dye stains can be incredibly stubborn and difficult to remove from a sink basin or bathroom countertop. The intensely pigmented chemicals designed to soak into your hair follicles will eagerly grab onto porous materials like ceramic, porcelain, acrylic or even stainless steel.

If you’ve recently dyed your hair at home and found leftover colourant stubbornly clinging to your sink, you’ve likely already tried scrubbing it away to no avail. But don’t despair, you can get that sink looking fresh and stain-free again with a bit of persistence and using the right cleaning methods and products.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to safely and effectively remove hair dye from a sink in 8 proven steps.

remove hair dye from sink

The Causes of Hair Dye Stains

Before we dig into the removal process, it’s helpful to understand exactly why hair dye is so prone to staining sinks and bathroom surfaces.

The main reasons hair dye is so staining include:

  • Intensely pigmented formula – Hair dye contains concentrated colorants designed to adhere to hair strands. This also allows them to efficiently cling to sinks.
  • Chemical binders – Ingredients like ammonia act as binders for the colorants to open the hair cuticle and adhere inside. This allows the dye to grab onto sinks.
  • Porous materials – Sinks made from materials like porcelain, ceramic, acrylic, laminate or even stainless steel have microscopic pores that allow dye to penetrate.
  • Dripping faucets – Wet dye that drips from the faucet leaves a concentrated stain that dries and bonds.

So to remove hair dye from a sink, you need products and techniques aimed at breaking the chemical bonds and lifting the concentrated pigment particles from the sink’s porous surface. Let’s look at the steps.

Needed Supplies

Before you start the hair dye removal process, you’ll need to gather the following supplies:

  • Protective gloves – Rubber gloves prevent dye from staining your hands
  • Old rags or paper towels – For wiping up dye residue and applying cleaners
  • Dish soap – Helps cut through grease that binds dye
  • Baking soda – A mild abrasive that lifts stains
  • White vinegar – Helps break dye chemical bonds
  • Plastic scraper – Helps lift dried dye clumps
  • Soft-bristle brush – For working cleaners into porous material
  • Eye goggles – Protect eyes from splashing chemicals
  • Trash bags – For easy clean-up and stain containment

Step 1 – Wipe Up Wet Dye

If the stained sink still has dripping wet hair dye in it, your first step is to wipe this up. Wet dye will leave a more concentrated stain if left to dry on the surface.

Take some paper towels or an old rag and soak up all visible pools of runny dye residue in the sink. Try to remove it before it dries. This prevents setting the stain further.

You can also hold a rag to a continuously dripping faucet to absorb excess dye drips. When wiping dye, use caution to avoid spreading it further. Work from the outside of the stain in toward the center.

Step 2 – Sprinkle on Baking Soda

Once you’ve wiped up all the free liquid dye possible, coat the stained area with a generous sprinkle of baking soda. You want enough to completely cover the stain.

Baking soda is a mild abrasive cleaner that will help lift and absorb the dye stain, especially when combined with water and scrubbing.

Make sure to allow the baking soda to sit and absorb for at least 15-20 minutes before scrubbing. This gives it time to fully lift the stain molecules.

Step 3 – Scrub with Dish Soap

After letting it sit, scrub the baking soda-covered stain with a soft-bristle brush and dish soap. The soap helps cut through grease and oils that may be binding the dye to the surface.

Add a few drops of liquid dish detergent right onto the dampened baking soda. Mix it into a scrubbing paste. Slowly scrub in circular motions, allowing the paste to get into the sink’s porous surface.

Scrub patiently for 5-10 minutes to get up all the dye possible. The baking soda particles will lift it while the soap emulsifies it away.

Step 4 – Rinse Clean

Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed the dye-stained area with the baking soda and soap paste, you’ll want to rinse it away. Use hot water to thoroughly rinse away all the cleaning mixture and lift off loosened dye.

Take care to rinse until the water runs clear. Leftover particles could further set the stain if allowed to remain.

It’s normal for some dye residue to still remain at this point if it’s a stubborn stain. Repeated applications may be needed.

Step 5 – Apply Vinegar

For extra lifting power, spray undiluted white vinegar directly onto the remaining stain. Vinegar is a mild acid that helps break the bonds of hair dye molecules.

Let the vinegar solution sit for 5-10 minutes. This gives the acetic acid time to penetrate and break up the stain.

You should see bubbling on the surface as the vinegar reacts with the alkaline dye chemicals. That is lifting the stain particles.

Step 6 – Scrub with Baking Soda

After letting it sit, use more dry baking soda to scrub the vinegar-treated stain. The baking soda will create a fizzing reaction on contact that further breaks up the dye.

The abrasive particles then lift and capture the loosened stain residue. Make sure to scrub vigorously. The combined cleaning action of vinegar and baking soda is very effective for stubborn dye stains.

Step 7 – Rinse Clean

After using the vinegar and baking soda scrub method, thoroughly rinse the area again. Sink stains need to be completely rinsed away after cleaning.

Take the time to wash and wipe down the entire sink basin. This prevents traces of dye from being re-deposited from the surrounding surface area.

Step 8 – Use Bleach for Stubborn Stains

For the most stubborn hair dye stains that resist all other methods, a dilute bleach solution may be needed. Make sure to test first in an inconspicuous spot.

Start by mixing 1 part chlorine bleach with 4 parts water. Dip an old toothbrush in the solution and gently brush onto just the stained area.

Never mix bleach with vinegar or other acids. Rinse completely after 5 minutes of contact time. Remember bleach may damage some sink materials, so use sparingly and with caution.

When Hair Dye Accidents Happen…

Even if you are very careful, drips and spills can still happen when home dyeing your hair. If a fresh staining accident occurs, follow these quick steps:

  • Blot wet dye immediately with paper towels or a rag
  • Flush the area with hot water to dilute further staining
  • Apply baking soda directly on wet dye to start absorbing
  • Scrub well before dye dries and sets
  • Use vinegar after rinsing to help lift any remaining traces

The sooner you can act, the easier hair dye will be to remove from sinks or bathroom surfaces!

Preventing Hair Dye Stains

While certainly irritating, hair dye stains can be removed with a bit of patience and work. But it’s always best to avoid them in the first place through prevention:

  • Carefully mix dye and applicator bottles over an open garbage bag.
  • Cover surfaces around the sink with old towels or plastic wrap.
  • Wipe up spills and drips immediately during application.
  • Rinse dye mixing tools thoroughly after doing hair coloring.
  • Avoid rubbing or touching surfaces with dye-covered gloves.
  • Clean up and wipe down the entire sink area after you’re done.

Recommended Hair Dye Removal Products

Having the right cleaning products can make removing hair dye stains much easier. Here are some recommended products to have on hand:

  • Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser – This oxalic acid powder is excellent for removing stubborn stains. Just make a paste and apply to dye stains. Let sit 5 minutes before scrubbing clean. [$3.97 for 21 oz canister]
  • Clorox Bleach Pen – The pen applicator lets you precisely apply bleach just to stained areas. Great for spot bleaching. [$3.97 per pen]
  • Soft Scrub with Bleach – Has added bleach plus scrubbing action to lift tough stains. Safe on most sink materials. [$3.48 for 28 oz bottle]
  • Zep Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner – The hydrochloric acid in this breaks down stubborn stains. Use carefully on porcelain. [$4.44 for 32 oz bottle]
  • Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scour Pad – These extra strong scrub pads make quick work of dried, stuck-on stains. [$4.97 for 3 count]

Tricks for Removing Specfic Hair Dye Stains

Certain types of hair color products or sink materials can pose unique challenges for stain removal. Here are some useful tips:

Semi-Permanent Dye Stains – The weaker dye molecules respond well to baking soda scrubs. For extra lifting power, apply lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Permanent Dye Stains – The heavier pigments may require full-strength bleach. Apply in short 2 minute bursts, rinsing repeatedly.

Acrylic or Laminate Sinks – Avoid harsh bleaches or acids. Use a soft Magic Eraser pad and mild soap to safely lift stains.

Stainless Steel Sinks – These are prone to dye stains setting in scratches. Use a stainless polish like Bar Keeper’s Friend applied with a soft cloth to remove stains.

White Porcelain Sinks – You can use stronger bleach, acid or abrasive cleaners to remove stains since these won’t damage the finish.

Cultured Marble Sinks – Dye easily stains the porous surface. Use mild cleaners and test bleach in an inconspicuous spot first.

Salon Hair Dye Stains – Products used in salons contain higher-grade dyes. Be prepared for extra scrubbing and repeated treatments.


If you accidentally stained your bathroom sink with hair dye drips and spills, don’t panic. As we covered, you can fully restore its clean appearance in 8 straightforward steps:

  1. Wipe up wet dye immediately
  2. Sprinkle on baking soda generously
  3. Scrub with dish soap
  4. Rinse clean
  5. Spray vinegar and let sit
  6. Scrub with more baking soda
  7. Rinse clean again
  8. Use diluted bleach for stubborn stains

Approach the process patiently and repeatedly to lift all traces of staining. With the right techniques and cleaning products, you can totally eliminate dye stains from your sink or countertops. Just be more careful next time when you color your hair!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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