Homemade Color Catchers for Laundry

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white cotton cloths

Homemade Laundry Color Catchers Recipe

We have all had it happen when doing laundry – that dark red top accidentally thrown in the wash with the whites or in the case of teen boys, tossing every color of the rainbow in the laundry with the whites– What a mess when it bleeds on everything.  This is what laundry color catchers were made for.

For those of you who have never heard of color catchers they are specially treated white cloths that you can toss in the laundry and they absorb the color when something bleeds in the wash. With each load of laundry, toss in a sheet at the beginning of wash cycle.

Many people don’t sort their clothes when they use laundry color catchers but I’m afraid I haven’t gotten out of the habit of sorting yet. You can make your own homemade color catchers for much less.


You can reuse them again if you re dip and dry. When they get very saturated with color then toss.
You don’t need a huge cloth to do this with about 3×5 is plenty.

Felt works really good and probably is the best although wash cloths and other things work well too. Go to Jo Ann fabrics and get felt with a 50% off coupon if you need to and it doesn’t cost that much. 1/2 yd. can make a bunch.

Homemade Color Catchers

  1. Start with pieces of white cloth. They can be old towels, wash cloths, flannel or something like that. Cut the white cloth into about 6-8 inch squares. You don’t have to measure them exactly.
  2. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of washing soda into one cup of hot water.
  3. Dip the cloths in the soda/water and wring out. Hang to dry. Don’t dry them in the dryer.
  4. When they’re dry, store your homemade color catchers by washer so they’re handy when you do laundry.


Photo By: smittenkittenorig


  1. Maggie says

    I am so glad for this recipe. I have been wanting to have the color catchers for a long time but the price in the stores is exorbitant and I just don’t have the extra money. I just sort my clothes and try not to wash red with white. But when I wash my quilt fabric, it would be nice to have one for the really dark reds and greens. Can you reuse them after one wash? Like wash them and redip in the washing soda to use another time. A friend of mine crocheted some dish cloths for me but they are too heavy to use for dishes but might work well for this purpose. But I’d hate to toss them after only one use.
    Thanks for sharing this tip.

    • says

      You know Maggie I’m not sure. I think a lot depends on how much and the type of color they collect. Also the material they are made of may make a difference. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. I would maybe try one and see what happens.

  2. getforfree says

    Thanks, never heard of that you can make it yourself. I just want to know how long were you using it, and do you reuse the cloth again or does it need to be thrown away.
    can I use used dryer shits instead of the cloth?

    • says

      It is like I told Maggie. It really depends on what they caught for dye and the fabric it is made of. I would wash them, redip and try to use them again until they got to covered in dye or color. I’m not sure the dryer sheets will work because you really should us white 100% cotton if you can.

    • says

      The different brands of these items don’t matter but be careful because Borax and washing soda are not the same thing and aren’t really interchangeable. Washing soda does nothing but soften water which is good because most of the time dingy clothes are caused because of hard water and not rinsing well. Borax on the other hand not only softens water but it has a cleaning booster and you can clean many other things with it. It also is good at killing things like fleas, ants and such things if you have critters to deal with.

    • says

      Su not a silly question at all and is often asked. Washing soda is made out of soda ash. There is a big list of chemical names I could give you but it might be easier to explain by telling you what it does. It goes back to basic elementary chemistry where acid and alkaline need to be balanced out and this is what washing soda does in your laundry. It pretty much softens hard water and prevents mineral build up which causes clothes to look dingy. It really isn’t a cleaner either not like Borax is. They are 2 different things. Washing soda has been used for decades to wash clothes when people were making their own soap then went out of vogue when commercially made detergent started being used.

    • says

      Washing soda is a white powder used in making laundry detergents. It can also be used along with laundry detergents for an extra cleaning boost when doing the laundry. It is different from baking soda. The have a different chemical make up. Some people find it hard to find washing soda but more often then not it is because they don’t know where to look for it in the store and most clerks don’t have a clue where to look for it and just say we don’t carry it. It is almost always on the top or bottom shelves of where your laundry detergents are. Wal Mart, regular grocery stores and many hardware stores carry it.

  3. Yanna says

    So if I make my own laundry detergent that has the washing soda in it does it work as a color catcher or is it still good to make the material color catchers to catch the color?

    • says

      Always treat homemade laundry detergent exactly the same as you would regular detergent. If you need a color catcher withe regular detergent then you will with the homemade. If you use fabric softener with regular then use it with homemade etc.

  4. Sandra says

    I shop in the thrift store on half price day. I bought two slightly stained white bath towels for 50 cents each. I’m buying washing soda Monday and will make lots of these. Thank you so much for this information.

  5. renee says

    To anyone cutting up a towel to use for this, make sure you hem the edges or you will have frayed edges and these could end up all over your clothes. Would not look good all over a black sweater, for example.


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