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).
Something of a Dead Horse Trope, due to both the invention of better dyes and colour-fast detergents (which were made to mostly avoid this trope, much to the relief of fans of striped clothing everywhere), and the fact that wearing pink isn't as much of a big deal anymore; in fact many clothing stores sell salmon pink shirts as a legitimate option, regardless of gender.
Compare Shrunk in the Wash.
- In one of the CN City bumpers, Samurai Jack and Johnny Bravo are washing their clothes at a laundromat. Jack's white clothes came out pink because Blossom's pink clothes somehow ended up in with them.
- In a Bundaberg Rum commercial, an anthropomorphic polar bear's fur is stained pink after his human friends slip a red sock into his bath. Leads to a Real Men Wear Pink situation.
- Discussed in a Kmart commercial advertising their sale on Hanes underwear; when two ladies look over the sale, one of them tells the other that her husband threw his red bowling shirt in the wash, which turned all his briefs pink. The husband overhears and tells his wife "Does everyone in Kmart have to know?"
- 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.
- Bart Simpson: The cover image from #81 shows an angry Homer discovering all his white shirts turned purple in the laundry, while Bart, wearing his purple Bart Man suit, walks away whistling
- 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.
- Evershade: Due to Gabby putting in her red plushie in an otherwise white laundry load, and a mentally said pun:
Wait a minute. White load? Red plush?
It took me a moment to take a second glance at the clothes thrown on the floor. "G-Gabby. You didn't..."
I thought that stuff only happened in TV. Color me surprised.
- In the Bakuten Shoot Beyblade fanfic, Deleted Scenes, in one chapter, Tyson, to get revenge on Max for something he did in an earlier chapter, throws his red hat into a load of white laundry, which includes Kai's headband, that Max is doing. He takes it out before Max can find it and Max takes the blame for the ruined clothes.
- 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.
- A throwaway scene in Spider-Man 2 has Peter Parker ruin his whites by washing them in the same load as his Spider-Man costume (he was washing them at a public dry cleaner, and he presumably felt he couldn't wash his whites and costume separately without someone seeing the latter).
- A similar gag is mentioned off-screen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where Peter and Aunt May are both hiding things they want to put through the laundry; Aunt May insists on handling Peter's laundry on the grounds that he "turned everything red and blue" last time he did the laundry. Peter claims he was washing the American Flag.
Aunt May: No-one washes a flag!
Peter: I do.
- Exaggerated in Paddington 2 where a single red sock in the prison laundry dyes all the convicts' uniforms pastel pink.
- Catch Me If You Can features this gag.
- Ellen and Otis: Otis comes to school in a pink undershirt at one point in Otis Spofford. He claims it's because his mom accidentally put one of his glow-in-the-dark socks in with the rest of the laundry, though the other students don't care about the cause; they just mock him for having pink underwear at all.
- In the picture book Olivia the Spy, Olivia's mother complains about being at the end of her tether because of certain of Olivia's recent actions, among which is being asked to put her father's white shirts in the washer, only for her to put her own red socks in with them and cause them to turn pink. Olivia says that she thinks they look pretty. "Well, then you wear them," her mother replies.
- 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. During The Stinger she gets into the elevator with the neighbor and has to hold in her laughter at seeing him in his pink tennis gear.
- 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.
- Overlaps with Shrunk in the Wash in one episode of Austin & Ally when the kids are tasked with cleaning a biker's jacket. The resulting small, pink jacket ends up making for a great gift for his daughter.
- Friends: The first time Rachel does her own laundry she accidentally leaves a red sock in with the rest of her whites and dyes the whole lot pink.
Rachel: Oh, everything's pink.
Ross: Yeah, uh, except for the red sock, which is still red. I'm sorry, please don't be upset, it could happen to anyone.
Rachel: Except it didn't. It happened to me. Oh, god, I'm gonna look like a big marshmallow peep.
- 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, it's revealed that this trope is why Prawn became Mermaid Man's arch-nemesis, and the worst evildoer he fought.
- In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Bowser Junior's Pink Bib!", Chef Pee Pee washes his red jacket after Junior stains it by tossing Cody's LEGO airplane into the Mac and Cheese he made. Afterwards, Cody sneezes on Junior's white bib, so Junior has Chef Pee Pee wash it as well. Chef Pee Pee does so at the same time as his jacket. When both the jacket and bib are cleaned, the bib comes out pink. When Joseph and Cody see the pink bib, they tease Junior.
- The Simpsons: The page image comes from "Stark Raving Dad." Homer finds that all of his shirts have turned pink in the wash because Bart put his lucky red hat 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 it 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 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. His Spinjitzu turns pink, as well.
- Disenchantment: In the season 2 episode "Our Bodies Our Elves", during the annual Wash Day, the executioner accidentally turns his hood pink since he washed all clothes simultaneously, regardless of color.