Techniques . Washing Machine: Front Loader
How to Dye Using a Front Loading Washing Machine
Dyeing in a washing machine is the most convenient method for dyeing large items and will not damage the machine if done correctly. However, the dyes may stain the machine around the plastic parts so it’s important to clean up immediately after dyeing. Since items need to be dyed on the hottest cycle, this process does not work well for items that are washable in cold water or are dry clean only. When dyeing items to a lighter or different color, first use Rit Color Remover to ensure you obtain the color you desire.
We do not recommend dyeing more than 8 pounds of fabric at one time in the washing machine, or dyeing slipcovers and draperies in a front loader because the items are bulky and may become twisted during the dyeing process which can result in the fabric being striped or splotchy from uneven dyeing. Given the amount of water the machine can hold, using more than 8 packages of powder or 4 bottles of liquid dye in one load will most likely result in the dye going to waste rather then being absorbed into the clothes, though there’s no harm in using more dye if you wish.
Dyeing methods differ slightly for top and front-loading machines. Learn how to dye using a top loader.
- Item(s) to dye
- Rit Dye, liquid or powder
- 1 cup salt or white vinegar, depending on item
- Measuring cup
- Rubber gloves
- Liquid detergent
- 1-2 cups chlorine bleach
- 3-4 old towels
- Optional: Rit Dye Fixative
Step by Step
Prewash items to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.
To determine the amount of dye needed, weigh the items to be dyed together. The items should be dry when weighed. If a scale is not available for this, refer to the chart to estimate the right amount of dye per load.
Wet item(s) in hot water, smooth out any wrinkles and place items in the washing machine.
Set water temperature to the hottest possible setting and a wash cycle of at least 30 minutes or longer. The longer the item is in the dye, the darker the color will be.
Shake dye bottles before pouring. Wearing rubber gloves, mix powder or liquid dye with 2 to 4 cups of very hot water; stir well. Pour the dye solution into the dispenser when you would normally add detergent. Flush the dispenser with another 4 cups of hot tap water after the dye has been added.
After 10 minutes, if you are dyeing natural fibers like cotton or linen, dissolve 1 cup of salt in 4 cups of very hot water and add it to the dispenser. If dyeing silk or nylon, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 to 4 cups of hot tap water and add it to the dispenser. Then flush the dispenser thoroughly with 4 more cups of hot tap water.
Optional: To reduce color bleeding, use Rit Dye Fixative on cotton fibers immediately after dyeing, following instructions on bottle.
After the machine cycle ends, rewash item in warm water with mild detergent. The machine will automatically rinse it.
Hang item or machine dry.
To clean the washing machine: Using hot water and the “high” level setting, clean the washer with 1-2 cups of liquid bleach. Make sure to wipe around the inside of the lid and pour a little bleach through the internal dispenser as dyes can get into these areas. Fill washer to highest water level with the hottest water temperature setting. Add detergent and 2 cups chlorine bleach and run a full wash cycle with 3 to 4 old towels.
Choose the Right Amount of Rit Dye:
Size of Machine Load (Water Level)
Gloves, lingerie, tights, socks, scarves, t-shirt, blouse, shirt, vest, pillow cover, placemats, doilies, sheer curtains.
Approx. Dry Weight of Fabric 1/4 to 1 lb.
Rit Powder Packages 1/2 to 1
Rit Liquid Bottles 1/4 to 1/2
MEDIUM 1 (Medium)
Jeans, pants, dress, skirt, uniform, sweatshirt, tablecloth, dust ruffle, canvas tote bag.
Approx. Dry Weight of Fabric 1 to 1 1/2 lbs.
Rit Powder Packages 1 to 2
Rit Liquid Bottles 1/2 to 1
MEDIUM 2 (Medium)
Jogging suit, sweater, robe, denim jacket, bath mat (not rubber-backed).
Approx. Dry Weight of Fabric 1 1/2 to 3 lbs.
Rit Powder Packages 2 to 3
Rit Liquid Bottles 1 to 2
Curtains/draperies, 4 hand towels plus washcloths, sheet plus 2 pillowcases.
Approx. Dry Weight of Fabric 4 to 6 lbs.
Rit Powder Packages 4 to 6
Rit Liquid Bottles 2 to 3
EXTRA LARGE (Extra Large or Super)
Bedspread, chair slipcover, 2 double sheets plus 4 pillowcases, throw rug (not rubber-backed), blanket.
Approx. Dry Weight of Fabric 6 to 8 lbs.
Rit Powder Packages 6 to 8
Rit Liquid Bottles 3 to 4