Ah; fresh laundry. Nothing's better. Crisp and clean, colors bright and whites white.
Unless a red sock ended up in the wash. Now you have pink.
Used to be Truth in Television (and in some cases still is), and the reason why this trope happens is a fairly simple one: coloured clothes can have excess dye on them (especially if they're new or aren't washed very often), and even small amounts of dye become obvious in lighter clothes. If the two are washed together, there's a risk that some of the dye will be washed off and stain the lighter clothes.
Although this can happen with any combination of darker and lighter colored clothes getting washed together, the 'red clothes staining white clothes pink' example is by far the most frequently used and well known version. Mainly because Pink Is for Sissies, much to the horror of the macho man or tomboy owner of the recoloured garment (especially if they already got themselves in this mess by "reducing" themselves to doing their own laundry, or are being forced to do A Day in Her Apron for some reason).
Is quickly becoming a Dead Horse Trope due to both the invention of better dyes and colour-fast detergents (to the relief of fans of striped clothing everywhere), and the fact that wearing pink isn't as much of a big deal anymore.
Compare Shrunk in the Wash.
- One issue of Tiny Titans had this happen to everyone's clothes thanks to the penguins putting the red capes of the Superman family in with the rest of the laundry. Robin's attempts to fix the problem with food coloring result in his Nightwing costume becoming rainbow-colored.
- Foxtrot: Peter's sweater once ended up in the laundry with Paige's stuff along with a fancy pen, turning it from grey to pink and giving it a fruity smell... and making him popular with the girls for Real Men Wear Pink reasons. Too bad it was on the very last day of school.
- In one Get Fuzzy strip, Bucky's "lucky red sock" got in a load of Rob's whites, even though he doesn't wear socks normally, being a cat.
- In one Garfield strip, Jon accidentally dyes his underwear pink in the wash. He then gets an idea to leave it in the wash again with blue clothes to make purple underwear. Garfield sarcastically remarks Jon as a genius.
- In Frankie Rules, Bloo mentions that he accidentally turned Frankie's favorite green sweater white.
- Incredibles 2: The page quote comes from a scene where a very tired Bob drops off Jack-jack at Edna's house, and begins to lament about the many blunders he made while trying to be a House Husband.
- In Despicable Me, Gru's spacesuit turns pink after Margo, Edith, and Agnes wash it together with their ballerina tutus.
- An episode of Lois & Clark had A Day in Her Apron for John and Martha. Clark ended up with a pink shirt after his dad washed it with his Superman cape.
- The first episode of Tracy Beaker Returns has Liam arrested by the police after he pulls a scam where he offers to do someone's laundry and the clothes get turned pink after he sneaks in a red sock.
- The show Life with Derek has the family's whites turn pink when Derek tosses his red sweater into the dryer to get it warm.
- In one episode of House of Anubis, Mara does this to Mick as a spiteful prank for him thinking she's boring. She also turns it onto high, making his shorts not only pink, but too small for him.
- Sam does this to Freddie once on iCarly, in an effort to tricking him into thinking he was cursed by an internet chain letter.
- An episode of The Dumping Ground has Frank sneak his red Manchester United shirt into Rick and Faith's laundry. This results in Rick and Faith's laundry being turned pink and it is not discovered Frank was the culprit until Jody notices the ends of Frank's shirt have been turned pink.
- Hunter Street: In one episode, Daniel's white shorts end up in the same load as Anika's red jeans. Of course, they came out of the washing pink.
- Happens to Harold in The Red Green Show when he gets distracted by a pretty girl while doing his laundry; he then shows up at the lodge in a pink sweater that used to be white.
- Daphne from Frasier has to deal with a Jerk Jock in the laundry room. She uses a pair of her red panties to turn one of the loads of white laundry pink.
- In the Hannah Montana episode "Cuffs Will Keep Us Together", when Robby Ray lectures Jackson on how he can't be trusted:
Robby Ray: I ask you to do the dishes, I get green chicken. I ask you to separate the whites in the laundry, and I get green underwear.
Jackson: Well, what are you worried about? Nobody's gonna see them, unless you do that sunrise yoga out on the deck again.
- In Derry Girls, the accidental inclusion of a red piece of paper in with the whites results in all the girls wearing pink shirts with their school uniforms. When they wear them to school, it's taken as a statement about gay rights.
- Street Fighter: The reason Dan Hibiki's dougi is pink is that it used to be white, but it got mixed with some red clothes in the laundry.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, its revealed that this trope is why Prawn became Mermaid Man's arch-nemesis, and the worst evildoer he fought.
Prawn: Personally, I thought pink made you very pretty.Mermaid Man: Really?
- The Simpsons: The page image comes from "Stark Raving Dad"; Homer takes out his shirt from the laundry, only to find it has been turned pink because Bart put his red cap in there. Since he's now the only one at work with a pink shirt instead of a white one, his boss Mr. Burns mistakes him for a free-thinking anarchist.
- An episode of Peppa Pig has Peppa put her red dress in with Daddy Pig's white shirt, which ends up turning the shirt pink.
- An episode of Mona the Vampire has Mona with her friends putting their clothes into a washing machine. Charlie asks Mona if they should separate the reds from the other clothes, to which Mona replies that Charlie shouldn't believe everything he sees on tv. This leads to everyone's' clothes turning pink (not just their whites, their clothes which aren't white as well).
- In the Futurama episode "Bendin' in the Wind", Fry, Leela, Amy and Zoidberg are following Bender (who is now a folk singer) on tour, when they stop at a laundromat. Zoidberg puts his shell in along with their laundry, causing it to look tie-dyed.
- Dexter's dad from Dexter's Laboratory went through this during A Day in Her Apron plot. When trying to do the laundry, he ended up dying Dexter's lab coat pink because he thought it was a good idea to wash them alongside Dee Dee's ballet tutus.
- Rugrats: In the episode "Accidents Happen", Dil's onesie gets washed and ends up pink.
- Invoked in Courage the Cowardly Dog. In "Ball of Revenge", Katz puts colorful clothes and white clothes together in the washing machine to torture Muriel.
- In the pilot episode of Apple & Onion, Onion has to get his boss's jacket cleaned after he accidentally smeared melted ice cream on it. While at the laundromat, Onion lets another customer wash his team's red uniforms along with his load. Unfortunately, this causes the boss's jacket to turn pink, and poor Onion gets fired.
- In the The Loud House episode, "Tea Tale Heart", Lola borrows an antique porcelain doll from Lucy that she wasn't supposed to touch, and accidentally spills tea on her white dress. When Lola attempts to wash the doll's dress, it and the rest of the laundry in the washing machine are turned pink. It is then revealed that Lana chose to wash her hat on that one particular day.
- In the Ninjago episode "Can of Worms", Zane's white ninja suit gets mixed in the laundry with Kai's red suit, resulting in Zane's suit turning pink.