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Home . Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve compiled nearly a century of dyeing knowledge into the answers for these frequently asked questions. Browse or search by dyeing category, Rit Dye product, dye color or dyeing technique to find the answer you seek. We also give step-by-step instructions on how to dye using various methods, materials and creative techniques in our techniques section. And you can also always contact us. Our team is on call seven days a week.

Dyeable Fabrics and Materials

What WILL Rit Dye?

Rit All-Purpose Dye will dye:

  • Washable fabrics containing natural fibers: cotton, linen, wool, silk and ramie
  • Synthetic fibers: Nylon
  • Fabric shoes: cotton canvas sneakers and satin shoes made of silk
  • Unfinished wood and wicker: furniture, picture frames, moldings, shutters, wicker baskets, straw, rattan and sisal squares
  • Natural dried plants and pine cones: dried cornhusks, milkweed, goldenrod, thistle, foxtails and pine cones
  • Paper: watercolor paper and newspaper for papercrafts and cardmaking
  • Miscellaneous: unfinished clay, cement, cork, feathers, fabric lampshades, paraffin (powder dye only), cotton and nylon rope, sand and seashells
  • Food for crafts: dried beans, eggshells, seeds and macaroni

Rit DyeMore will dye:

  • Washable fabrics made of synthetic fibers: 100% polyester, polyester/cotton blends, nylon, acrylic and acetate.
  • Nylon-based plastics: buttons, fasteners, golf balls, lacrosse sticks and nylon 3D printing filaments
  • Some additional plastics: Legos

Find instructions on how to dye specific materials in the following questions and in our dyeing techniques.

What will Rit NOT dye?

  • Fiberglass, spandex, and metallic fibers
  • Fabrics with severe bleach or stain damage, rubber backings or special finishes, such as waterproof or stain resistant
  • Fabrics labeled washable only in cold water or “dry clean only”
  • Polycarbonate plastics (such as eyeglass frames and lenses)

Should new fabrics or garments be washed before dyeing?

For best results, always prewash an item before dyeing. This helps to remove any finishes or sizing that may interfere with dye absorption. Never use fabric softeners. Prewashing helps the fabric to absorb the dye evenly and results in a more accurate color.

Do all fabrics dye to the same degree or in the same amount of time?

Different fibers and fabrics take dyes differently. Nylon, rayon, silk and well-washed fabrics absorb the dye quickly and may require less dyeing time. Cotton and other natural fibers as well as 100% polyester and cotton/polyester blends usually take longer to reach the fullest, richest color.

What about fabrics with special finishes? Do they present dyeing problems?

Waterproof and stain-resistant finishes resist wetting by water and therefore resist penetration of the dye. If the fabric is dyed, the resulting color will be as much as 50% lighter than the package color. We do not recommend dyeing these fabrics. Wash-and-wear, permanent press, and crease-resistant finishes create a resistance when dyeing and will result in much lighter colors. It is recommended to wash a new fabric or garment in warm water and laundry detergent prior to dyeing. This helps to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.

Will the use of Rit Dye weaken fabric?

No. There is absolutely nothing in Rit Dye that can in any way weaken, harm or deteriorate any textile fiber.

How do I dye jeans?

Jeans should be free of stains and soil. If the jeans are white or a very light color, use any Rit dye color of your choice. If the jeans are dark, it would be best to re-dye them using a similar color. Do not treat jeans with Rit Color Remover as this product will lighten or remove the existing color but will not remove the Indigo dye. The Indigo dye will “re-attach” itself to the fabric and may cause uneven areas and coloring once dyed. For more, watch our how-to video on dyeing jeans.

How do I dye wool?

Only washable wools would be considered dyeable. We suggest beginning with a warm dyebath and gradually increasing water temperature to 140°. After the item is in the dyebath for 5 minutes, add 1 cup of white vinegar and stir well. This will help to intensify the color. Continue to stir the item constantly for 30 minutes. Remove and squeeze out the excess dye. Rinse in warm and then cool water until all the excess dye has been removed. Launder in warm water, rinse and dry flat.

How do I dye silk?

Washable silks dye well using hot water (140F). After the item is in the dyebath for 5 minutes, add 1 cup of white vinegar and stir well. This will help to intensify the color. Continue to stir the item constantly for 30 minutes. Remove and squeeze out the excess dye. Rinse in warm and then cool water until all the excess dye has been removed. Launder in warm water, rinse and dry flat.

How do I dye nylon/spandex blends?

Rit will dye the nylon portion of the fabric. The spandex fibers will not absorb the dye. However, since the spandex is usually a small percentage of the fabric blend, the fabric can be dyed, which may result in a lighter shade depending upon the amount of spandex.

Will Rit Dye cover bleach spots?

Rit Dye will not cover bleach spots because the fibers have been damaged. However, if the spots are small and not too extreme, we recommend trying to spot dye the areas. As another option, if the garment is ruined and you want to give dyeing a try, remove the color from the item using Rit Color Remover. This will bring it to an off-white or cream color. If you can still see the bleach spots, launder the item in the washing machine or sink with warm water, detergent and 1 cup of liquid bleach. Rinse and launder again. Then follow one of our dyeing techniques. Please note that many times bleach damage can appear as yellowing, and if this is the case, this cannot be reversed using Rit Color Remover.

Will Rit Dye cover stained or faded areas?

Rit Dye will not cover a stained or sun-faded area.  For stain spots, try to remove the stains using Rit Super Stain Remover.  For faded areas, try to remove the color using Rit Color Remover. This will remove or reduce the overall color bringing it to an off-white or cream color. Then re-dye the item.

How do I over-dye a dark stain?

Rit will not cover stains. Before dyeing, the stains must be removed from the item. We recommend using Rit Super Stain Remover or Rit Color Remover prior to dyeing.

How do I remove perspiration and deodorant stains from a white shirt?

We would recommend using Rit Super Stain Remover. Apply a small amount directly onto the stained areas. Gently rub Stain Remover into the stains and allow the garment to rest for 30-45 minutes. Wash as normal.

Can deer hair be dyed?

Yes, dyeing deer hair is very common, especially with fishing companies. They use deer hair to make fly ties. Dyeing deer hair uses the same technique as dyeing feathers.

Why can’t I dye a rubber backed rug?

The rubber backing on cotton rugs will absorb the dye, yet it will not retain the dye. Therefore, the dye may later bleed onto flooring or carpet. If you decide to give it a try, use caution and wash rugs several times before use.

Can I dye carpet?

We do not recommend dyeing carpet in your home. Carpet dyeing is best done by professionals who use equipment that can attain high temperatures and high pressure combined with special chemicals and surfactants needed to apply the dye. The problems you may face dyeing your carpet at home include uneven color and crocking, which means the dye will rub off because it has not been applied with sufficient high pressure and heat.

That said, if you have a small area that needs color, you could try a spot dyeing technique. If this does not work to your satisfaction, however, you will need to contact carpet professionals as cited above and pay for them to try to fix the discoloration so only use this technique if you’re willing to take that risk. Be sure your carpet is nylon or wool. Polyester cannot be dyed. Begin with 1 tablespoon of Rit powder or 1 1/2 teaspoons Rit liquid dye per 1 gallon of water. Use hot water with a temperature of 160-180 degrees. If the dye doesn’t quite match the carpet color, mix in a dye color that will make it the right shade. Start by adding 1/8 teaspoon dye powder or 5 drops of Rit liquid dye at a time to the 1 gallon dye mixture. Stir well. Test the resulting color on a scrap to determine a match. Continue to adjust if necessary. Use less dye for lighter colors and use more dye for darker colors, keeping all other quantities and measurements the same. Apply evenly and thoroughly. Extract excess moisture.

Can I dye a jute rug?

Unfortunately, we do not recommend using Rit to dye a jute rug. If the dye is not rinsed completely from the rug, it may stain whatever it comes in contact with. Even repeated rinsing will not always guarantee full removal of excess surface dyes on jute rugs.

Can I dye felt for a pool table?

Most pool table felt is a blend of nylon and wool, which can be dyed with Rit. However, we have no way of knowing how the water and dye will affect the surface of the pool table. They may cause irreparable damage. If you want to take a risk and give it a try, we suggest gently scrubbing the felt with warm water and a mild detergent. Rinse well. While the felt is still wet, apply the dye with a sponge sparingly onto the felt. The dye water should be very hot. Mix 1 package or ½ bottle in 1-2 gallons of water at a 140 degree temperature. Allow to dry thoroughly and wipe with a clean damp cloth to remove excess surface dye.

Can I dye my patio umbrella?

Normally, market or patio umbrellas are finished to prevent water leakage. This finish will prevent you from creating any lasting color depth. You might be able to refresh the same color just for the season. However, you could not dye it a lighter color if the existing color is already a dark color. Dyeing is only possible when dyeing light to dark, not the reverse. Dyeing this type of material black will most likely simply darken the existing color.

Can I dye eggs for Easter and then eat them?

Eggs may be dyed using Rit Dye. However, since Rit dyes are not food-grade or vegetable dyes, we recommend that you do not eat them.

Is Rit safe to dye animal toys?

Rit contains no harmful chemicals. However, it is not a vegetable or food-grade dye so we do not recommend it for toys that children will chew on.

Will Rit dye leather?

We do not recommend using Rit dyes to dye leather. Our dyes contain salt which may cause the leather to become dry or brittle. In some cases, Rit has been used successfully to stain leather rather than dye it. However, there is the possibility that the dye may rub off while wearing the item or if it gets wet.

Can I dye Vellux® fabric?

Yes. Vellux is often used in making blankets. Originally, it was made by embedding nylon fibers in a reinforced urethane foam layer to form a pile on both sides. Recently, however, some Vellux is being made using polyester fibers. Rit DyeMore can dye both of these fibers. Some manufacturers recommend laundering in cold water and dyeing requires hot water so also check the label for washing instructions.

Can Uggs® boots be dyed with Rit?

Uggs Boots that are made of sheepskin can be dyed with Rit. This technique is recommended for restoring or changing the color of worn boots. Follow the Bucket Method for dyeing. Be sure to wash the boots first to remove excess dirt and to add them to the dye bath while still wet. This will keep them from floating. Keep them in the dye bath for 30-60 minutes, moving them around to achieve an even color. Rinse thoroughly in cool water and then wash in warm water with a mild detergent. Rinse again. Let dry completely; this may take several days.

Is my raincoat dyeable?

Yes, as long as the raincoat is a dyeable fabric. However, raincoats are normally coated with a water repellent finish. These finishes will repel the dye.

Can I dye a bathing suit?

Rit can be used to dye swim suits. As bathing suits are usually made from nylon or polyester, Rit DyeMore may be your best option. Keep in mind that if your swim suit will be exposed to chlorine from a swimming pool, the chlorine could cause a loss of color. In addition, long exposure to strong sunlight could cause the color to fade.

Can I dye a “cold water wash” or “dry clean only” fabric?

Rit dyes are recommended for use with fabrics that can be washed in hot water. If a fabric is labeled “cold water wash” or “dry clean only” there could be damage to the fabric if it is dyed in hot water. “Dry clean only” fabrics are often used in garments with interfacing and linings. These fabrics could shrink and cause puckering and unsatisfactory results.

Can I dye fabric shoes?

Rit will dye cotton canvas shoes and satin shoes covered with silk. The shoes must be clean and free of any stains. See some of our projects for dyeing shoes for reference.

Can I dye a shirt with a picture logo?

Yes, though the dye may change the color of the logo on your shirt. The rules of color mixing apply when over-dyeing an existing color like this, e.g. dyeing a yellow logo with green dye may turn it blue. If you do not wish to change the color of your logo, then dyeing may not be the best option.

Why didn’t the thread or stitching dye on my clothing?

Very often the thread used in the manufacturing of clothing is 100% polyester. While Rit DyeMore dyes polyester, Rit All-Purpose Dye does not, so the thread remains its original color when using the all-purpose dye. This can create an interesting design effect, but it’s important to keep this in mind if that’s not the effect you want.

Is Rit Dye safe for infant wear?

Rit is completely safe for dyeing children’s clothing.  Rit is non-toxic as determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. See more on how safe Rit is to use in your home.

Can I dye upholstered furniture?

We do not recommend using Rit Dye for upholstered fabric because after the dye is applied, the excess dye must be removed. This can be difficult to achieve with furniture and if the excess dye is not completely removed, it can rub off on clothing. Rit Dye performs best with fabric that can be removed from the furniture, such as slipcovers or pillow covers, and immersed in a dyebath. Then the fabric can be rinsed and laundered as directed to remove the excess dye.

Can I dye wood?

Rit can be used to stain unfinished wood and wicker. The beauty of using a dye instead of paint is that it allows the wood grain to show through the color. See how to dye-stain wood.

Can I use Rit Color Remover to bleach wood?

Rit Color Remover can be used to make unfinished wood whiter before staining with brighter colors of Rit Dye. This provides a whiter base and the finished dye colors look brighter and cleaner. In addition, if you have dye-stained a piece of wood and you don’t like the color or you have made a dyeing mistake, you can remove the dye color by mixing 1 or 2 packages of Rit Color Remover with 1 gallon of very hot water (160 degrees); stir well. Avoid breathing fumes. Apply to wood and let set for one to two hours. Rinse well with warm water and air dry. Then stain wood a new dye color.

Why are my dyed curtains fading so quickly?

If your curtains were dyed with Rit, direct exposure to sunlight may cause loss of color more rapidly than normal wear.

Why didn’t Rit Color Remover remove the color in my curtains?

Since curtains are often exposed to direct sunlight, some manufacturers may choose to use stronger colorfast dyes and fabric finishes. These dyes can be very difficult to remove even with chlorine bleach.

 

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