How to Remove Dye from Vinyl Upholstery

Vinyl upholstery in the back seat of a car.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-40
What You'll Need
Clean bucket or bowl
Measuring spoons and cups
Oil-free liquid dishwasher soap
Warm water
Distilled white vinegar
Empty spray bottle
Lint-free cloths

Vinyl is a strong material that can withstand a lot of abuse. It is used in many applications from car seats to clothing and tablecloths. It is also fairly inexpensive and will resist staining, cracking, and tearing. However, some materials, such as hair dye, can stain vinyl if it is allowed to dry on the surface. This can be very unsightly, but do not worry because dye can be removed without damage using many household products that are not only safe for the vinyl but also for the environment. The article that follows will show you how to make a cleaner just for this purpose.

Step 1 - Make Your Cleaner

The first step in cleaning dye off of vinyl is to create a solution to use. This cleaner is very easy to make with products found in nearly every home. Make sure you start with a clean bucket or bowl, and measure out one tablespoon of the oil-free dishwasher soap to add to it. The dishwasher soap needs to be oil-free in order to prevent residue from appearing on the vinyl. Add two cups of warm water and one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and stir the solution until suds form. Open a spray bottle, insert a funnel, and fill it with the vinyl cleaner.

Step 2 - Treat the Vinyl

Before you spray down the upholstery, you should always wipe it down with a soft cloth. You want to remove any dirt or dust that may have accumulated, so that it doesn't essentially become mud once sprayed and stain the vinyl even more. Once the surface is dusted off, apply the cleaning solution. Use as much as you need, but keep in mind what the vinyl is covering. If it is a vinyl seat, use less cleaner because you do not want the moisture making its way into the cushion.

Step 3 - Remove the Stain

Allow the vinyl cleaner to rest on the dye stain for several minutes. If the stain is particularly bad, then you may want to allow it to work for longer. When you think enough time has passed, use a lint-free towel to scrub the area hard. You cannot scrub enough to damage the vinyl, and dye is one of those chemicals that will adhere to the material, so don't hold back. Wipe the vinyl down afterward and inspect it for any dye that may be left behind. If dye still remains, repeat this step until you are successful.