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The Rit Studio: Stovetop Technique

How to Dye Buttons and Beads

Dyeing buttons and beads is fun and easy to do, enabling you to get the exact color you want whether using the buttons and beads on a coat, a pillow cover or in a necklace. They also look beautiful in a vase as part of a flower arrangement, helping the flowers to stand tall.

Most buttons and beads are made out of nylon and Rit is one of the few dyes that will color these materials (it also dyes wood buttons!). That means you can transform plain buttons and beads into colorful accents that match or coordinate with whatever you are making.

Prep, dye and rinse time: 30 minutes

You’ll Need

  • White nylon-based plastic buttons or beads
  • Rit Dye, liquid or powder
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Plastic containers
  • Spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic table cover
  • Paper towels

Step by Step

  1. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.

  2. Wearing rubber gloves, shake liquid dye bottles before pouring. For dyeing a small amount of buttons, measure and mix 1 teaspoon liquid dye or 2 teaspoons powder dye with 1 cup hot water, or follow the color formula of your choice. Use more dye for darker colors. Water should be about 140 F. If your tap water is not hot enough, heat some in the microwave or a tea kettle.

  3. Always test the dye color with a paper towel or scrap of white cotton fabric before dyeing. If color is too light, add more dye; if it is too dark, add more water.

  4. Pour dye and water into a plastic container; stir. Make sure container is deep enough for the buttons and beads to be fully immersed in the dye while moving freely.

  5. Keep buttons and beads in dye solution for 2-5 minutes, or until desired color is achieved. Stir occasionally and check color frequently.

  6. Remove and rinse buttons. Then wash with soap and water and rinse. Allow to dry on paper towels.

Try our FAQs, or Ask The Dye Doctor

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Ada, unfortunately RIT cannot dye polyester, acrylic or acetate. These are man made fibers, oil based and our water dye will not stay adhered to them. Hope this information is helpful.

  • Adam

    I’ve seen a technique for dying PET plastics for visors on costumes. So this is not true?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Adam, We went to google and found the site you evidently were looking at and yes, they are dying a plastic visor using RIT Dye. RIT is a fabric dye but many people use it for a multitude of other things. Hope this information is helpful. .

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi FangFang,nThank you for your interest in Rit dye. Unfortunately, polyester does not absorb our dye. Sorry about that. You might try searching the internet for a polyester dye.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi FangFang,nThank you for your interest in Rit dye. Unfortunately, polyester will not absorb our dye. Sorry about that. You might trying searching the internet for a polyester dye.

  • Karen

    I would like to dye wooden beads ivory or white. Can I do this with Rit dyes?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Karen, Unfortunately, the ivory recipe would not be able to fully cover the original coloring of the wood. So sorry about that.

  • Jen

    Would the dye work on old shell buttons?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Jen, It would depend on the material the shell buttons are made from. You might try to dye a button or two to see if the dye tints them. Hope this helps.

  • Mike

    Hello …. I want to color glass beads and glass stones for jewelry. Can I use Rit Dye ?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Mike, this section on our website is using RIT Dye for dyeing many types of buttons and beads. RIT makes 26 colors and has over 500+ recipes on the website. This link will take you to those recipes: https://www.ritdye.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ColorRit_FINAL.pdf. Hope this information will be helpful.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Megan, We would suggest testing a small piece of line in 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of dye. The all-purpose dye may not work on the line and the Rit Dye More would need to be used. If all-purpose can be used, you would probably want to follow the basic directions for bucket: https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/sink-or-bucket-technique/ If Dye More is needed, you would get the best results on the stove. Hope this helps!

  • http://www.ritdye.com andrew lorimer

    Hi, I want to dye some propeller guards, made of plastic (not sure of exact material name), they are part of a Drone, the DJI Phantom 3. I was going to follow the guide for Buttons…..etc, as this sounds like a s’sound and sensible method of dyeing the plastic guards.
    I also would like to dye the propellers, in a tangerine colour, to make them more visible when rotating.
    If you have any advice, I would be grateful and this web site is an excellent, useful help!!

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Andy, You might do a test batch with the all-purpose dye to see if it will adhere to the plastic. If not, we would recommend using the Dye More: http://store.ritstudio.com/rit-dyemore/ Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • TonyaTko

    Will this dye any colour button to a different colour? Or do I need to use white or clear buttons?


    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello, Thank you for reaching out. We would suggest starting with clear or white buttons as the existing color of the button would affect how well the dye adheres and what color you would achieve. If using all-purpose dye, make sure the buttons are nylon.

  • Allan

    Is DyeMore Liquid – Graphite the closest color to black?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Allan, Rit DyeMore Graphite will dye 100% polyester a dark grey, but other fabrics will dye black. Hope this helps.

      • Allan

        I’m dying plastic so that will come out grey? I’m trying for black.

        • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

          Hi Allan, It would depend on the material the plastic is made from. If it is a poly-based plastic it would turn out more grey, but if it is a nylon-based plastic, it should turn out black .

  • Ruth James

    Thanks for the explanation. If one wanted varigated colors, could all put in the bowl at one and a few scooped out at intervals so the last ones would be the darkest?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Ruth, Yes, you could do this only know that the longer they are in the darker the color. Make sure there is not allot at a time where the color wont hit all sides. Hope this helps.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Thank you for reaching out! Unfortunately since Rit Dye is intended for fabrics, we are not able to suggest dyeing the sunglasses lenses as there is no way to know for certain how they will come out. Should you decide to experiment, we would suggest using a paper towel to test the strength of the dye before putting them in the dye bath.
    We apologize for any inconveniences with may cause. Please get back to us with any additional questions.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Rachel, The Dye More would work to dye the soles of shoes. Hope this helps!

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Ethan, We have two different dyes to choose from, depending on the material. Our original dye, all-purpose Rit, dyes natural fibers well, such as cotton, rayon, ramie, linen, silk or wool. Our new synthetic dye, Rit DyeMore, dyes polyester, nylon, acrylic, acetate, and many plastics, like ABS and poly-based plastics, beautifully. Although DyeMore can be used to dye plastic and is non-toxic, we cannot guarantee the dye would not bleed off an item that is placed in a mouth for long periods of time and, for this reason, would not recommend dyeing a mouthguard.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Sherry, Thank you for reaching out. Rhinestones can be made of paste, glass, or gem quartz. It would depend on what the rhinestones are made from as to whether the dye would adhere to them.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Marge,
    Thank you for reaching out. Buttons are usually a plastic-synthetic material of some kind. When dyeing plastics, you must use our DyeMore line of dyes to achieve your desired results. We have 12 colors available in the DyeMore line at this point in time. You can find the DyeMore line at Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, JoAnn Fabric or online at Amazon.
    Please keep in mind that DyeMore requires a very high heat to activate and dye the plastic so it must be used on the Stove top.
    Here are the step by step instructions for using DyeMore. https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/dyemore/
    Hope this helps.

  • Cassandra Arsenault

    I have a ton of beads, some recently purchased but some more cherished, inherited from my grandmother and good knows how old or what they’re made of, if that’s changed much over the years though I’m trying to pick out plastic looking ones. One fabric which is already the correct color so, no worries. My question though is, along with the white and clear and somewhat opaque colors, I also have slightly colored buttons. I’m going for various shades of purple and the buttons in question are a clear or pearlecent periwinkle color, a blue that leans to purple, could this be turned purple with application of purple basic dyes (I plan to purchase all three shades) or should I stick to dying just clear and white buttons?

    • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

      Hello Cassandra,
      Thank you for reaching out. If the buttons are plastic then you would need to use our DyeMore line of dyes that is specifically meant for dyes synthetic fabrics. The dye will be able to dye the blueish buttons but there is no way to know exactly what the color will come out as. If you are going to a darker shade then the likeliness that the color will take effectively is higher then if you decide to get a lighter shade. Please get back to us with any additional questions.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hi Cindy, Thank you for your request. We have 2 dye lines, depending on the fabric you are working with. Rit All Purpose Dyes do not dye polyester or other synthetic fibers well. Rit All Purpose Dyes, will work well on cotton, rayon, ramie, linen, nylon, silk or wool. Rit DyeMore will dye polyester, nylon, acrylic, acetate, golf balls, lacrosse sticks, ABS plastics and poly based plastics beautifully. In order to see if we can create a custom color recipe, we would need to know the exact fabric content from the fabric care tag. If you are working with a blend, please include the percentages of the fabrics listed on the care tag. Please send us a picture of the color you would like to achieve and we will try to create a custom color recipe for you. Once we know which dye line to use when providing you with a color recipe, we will advise which method to use for dyeing the top.

  • http://www.ritdye.com Jenn Souther

    i have black converse shoes with white stitching that i would like to dye kelly green. how should i do it? i already know i need to use dyemore because the stitching is polyester. thank you in advance!

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Rafael,

    We recommend using our Rit Color Fixative. Here is the link to buy it:https://store.ritstudio.com/laundry-and-dyeing-aids/liquid-dye-8-oz-color-stay-dye-fixative/. This product helps the color to lock in and prevent bleeding.

    Thank you,
    Rit Dye




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