The Rit Studio: 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.

 

Prep, dye and clean up time: About 1 hour

You’ll Need

  • 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

  1. Prewash items to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.

  2. 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.

  3. Wet item(s) in hot water, smooth out any wrinkles and place items in the washing machine.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Optional: To reduce color bleeding, use Rit Dye Fixative on cotton fibers immediately after dyeing, following instructions on bottle.

  8. After the machine cycle ends, rewash item in warm water with mild detergent. The machine will automatically rinse it.

  9. Hang item or machine dry.

  10. 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)

SMALL (Low)

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

LARGE (Large)

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

Try our FAQs, or Ask The Dye Doctor

  • Connie

    How do you use color remover in a front loader washing machine

    • ritsters

      Hi Connie, All Rit fabric treatment products may be used in a front-load washer. Like Rit dyes, it is important to pre-dissolve the Rit fabric treatment into four cups of very hot tap water and thoroughly flush the dispenser with another four cups of very hot tap water. Hope this helps!

  • claire

    I am super keen to dye some Ikea Ektorp loveseat slipcovers a gorgeous shade of robin’s egg blue. I’ve seen DIY sites where they’ve had great success with these exact covers but in a top load washer (which not even the laundromats around me have anymore). I’m nervous because I have a front load washer and I saw the warning on here about a large item like a slipcover twisting in the wash. If it does come out uneven/stripey because of its size, will a second dyeing correct that? The slipcover sets are only $79 to replace but I’m still working up the nerve to go for this!!

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Claire,
      We always say to ensure you have enough for the fabric to move around freely in the dyebath to ensure that you get an even dye. If the item were to come out blotchy or uneven, dyeing again would cause the rest of the material to still be uneven shades. The color remover would correct and remove the dye to give you a clean slate again if this does happen. If you are nervous about using the front loading machine you also have the option of using a large plastic storage tote that the material can move around freely in for a more hands on method that you have control of throughout the dyeing process. Hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Deborah V

    Will the agitator be dyed Navy Blue in my top load washer permanently? If so, can anything get it out?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Deborah, The machine typically cleans out very easily once the bleach and hot water is used immediately after dyeing. The plastic pieces in the machine could possibly become tinted or dyed permanently. Unfortunately, there is not a way to remove the tint but it will not affect future laundry.

  • Melissa

    Do you recommend using the RIT dye fixative after doing this process?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Melissa,nWe only recommend using the Rit Dye Fixative if you having issues with color bleeding. Let us know if you have anymore questions!

  • Jennifer

    Hello, I have some clothes that are 100% cotton but have logos on the front of them. not sure how they were put onto the shirt but is it ok to use the color remover and then rit dye on an item with a logo. If so what is the best way to go about doing this? Thanks for your help.

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Jennifer, You can use the color remover on an item with a logo, but it may affect the dye in the logo depending on what material the logo is made from. This would be the same issue with dyeing the clothing. Hope this helps.

  • elena

    Hi, nIf I want to dye a linen/lycra blend (washing instructions up to 40 degrees Celsius), first of all, if it possible; and second, on what setting (this tutorial specifies highest temp setting, which would be 90 degrees Celsius)?nThanks

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Elena, Linen does dye well. The lycra will not take on any color, but there is typically such a small amount that it would not cause any issues while dyeing. We would suggest staying around 70-80 degrees Celsius for best results. Hope this helps!

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hello, We recommend weighing the jeans as that is what helps to calculate how much dye is needed. For 1 lb. of dry weight fabric, you would use 1 box of powder or 1/2 bottle of liquid. We do not recommend dyeing over 10 lbs. of fabric in a washer. You will want to make sure the jeans can move freely through the dyebath so that you achieve an even color result. Also, for dark colors, we recommend doubling the amount of dye. Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions we might help you with.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Jelene, We suggest adding the fabric in already wet, so right after washing would be the perfect opportunity to start dyeing them! Let us know if you have any other questions.

  • Elaine

    Hi I have a pure wool bed base cover I would like to dye preferably black from current colour of moss green. Washing instructions says its cold wash only, can you recommend a dye that I can use in a front loader

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Siege, In order to successfully dye in a front load washer, you need to be able to add the dye and additional water through the detergent dispenser. Adding dye into the drum would result in the fabric color being uneven or blotchy. Therefore, we would recommend choosing a different method for your dye project. Hope this helps.

  • Diane

    I soaked two items, one sleep shirt, cotton and one pair of leggings in hot water for 3 hours. I made sure they were completely immersed. I used about 2/3 bottle of rit liquid dye. Color is denim blue. The two items I dyed were dark but not as dark as the dye. I also used salt. I did them in my
    kitchen sink since I live in an apartment complex and no dying allowed. What should I use to set the dye. I am washing them right now in a front load washing machine. SO…lol..I guess I am just asking as to what I should use to set the dye????

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Diane, On cotton fabrics and other natural fabrics, we recommend using the Rit Color Stay Dye Fixative to help set the dye and reduce color bleeding. The agitation is what helps the dye adhere to the fabric and get dark color results. Soaking can cause the dye to adhere unevenly and does not allow the fabric to fully absorb the dye as the agitation allows. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • CeCe

    Hello, in going to dye our couch cover tonight. ( 2 seat plus chaise longe), the cover is 80% cotton and 20% polyester.
    Going from dark grey to black.. I’m nervous cause never did this before! Anybody comments or tips?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello CeCe, One bottle of black liquid will dye one pound dry weight fabric. You will want your items to be prewashed and wet when you put them into the machine. The temperature of the dye bath should be at least 140 degrees and your items need constant agitation so that they will dye evenly. Step two is rinse until the rinse water runs clear..the darker the color, the more rinse cycles to get the water clear. Then wash, rinse and dry as normal. Hope this information is helpful.

  • Fang

    Hi, I’m dying a mix of shirts, tank tops, jeans, and a sweater black. Do you think one bottle will cover all of this?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello, We would recommend checking to make sure you are working with a dyeable fabrics before you begin your dye project. For a list of dyeable and non-dyeable fabrics, go to: https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/tips-for-successful-dyeing/ One bottle of liquid dye will dye up to 2 lbs. of dry weight fabric. However, when dyeing dark colors, we recommend doubling the amount of dye used. You might step on a bathroom scale to weigh the fabric. Hope this information is helpful.

  • Yvonne

    I successfully died a black dress with enormous orange bleach stains on it back to black using the front loader. I used 2 containers of the liquid dye and put the item in a regular wash cycle which is 40 minutes on my machine. I then followed all instructions as given putting vinegar in the machine. (This was an Eileen Fisher dress which cost a great deal of money and so I was happy to save it). I took the dispenser out of the washing machine and washed it all out to ensure there was no dye residue. (I did not use bleach at any time.) I then washed the inside of the washing machine with warm water and washing up liquid. All subsequent washes, including white washes, have been perfect.

  • Sassy

    Hi! I am trying to dye a white cotton twin size blanket to taupe. The custom color I chose is Starfish which requires 1 tsp taupe, 1 tsp evening blue and 1 quart of water. When I look at instructions, it looks like I’m going to need a lot more dye. How much of each will I need to dye this blanket? And how much water. This will be done in a front loader machine.

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Sassy, Instructions for scaling up a recipe for use in a washing machine can be found by going to https://www.ritdye.com/color-library/how-to-mix-colors/ If your front load washing machine allows you to add additional water where you normally add the detergent, they you can dye in your machine. Instructions for dyeing in a front load washer can be found by going to https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/washing-machine-front-loader/ If you front load washing machine does not allow you to add additional water where you would add detergent, we would recommend choosing an alternate method for dyeing. Hope this information is helpful and let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with.

  • Chandra

    I’m trying to dye a light aquamarine shirt and shorts stained from a red shirt washed with them. And it bled on them. However, they are cold wash items and I have a front load washer that I add detergent in as soon as I press start on the washer. What should I do to salvage the items? And if I can use Rit, when do I add the dye? Thank you for your help!

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Chandra, All Rit dyes and fabric treatments call for use in very hot water. Normally, we would recommend using Rit color remover to take the fabric back to an off-white or cream color and prepare the fabric for dyeing a new color. If you cannot place the items in hot water, we do not have any other recommendations to offer. Sorry about that.

  • Dustin

    I need to dye 4 1ft x 1ft white dining room chair covers (100% cotton) to black. I have a very new high efficiency LG front loader and I am worried about messing it up. Also, the detergent tray will not hold more than 1 cup of detergent (or die) at a time and I don’t know when and how often it dispenses. There is a pre-wash tray for detergent, but it dispenses immediately and I don’t know how much it will hold. Any suggestions on how to go about this?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Dustin, You might try using a bucket method if you have a large enough bucket for the material to freely move around. Heat the water on the stove and add it to the bucket with the dye and one cup of water. Be sure to stir constantly to ensure that the items dye evenly. Hope this helps!

  • S

    I just used Rit Dye remover in my front loader per the instructions and it did absolutely nothing, so disappointing 🙁

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello, We are sorry to hear your project did not turn out as planned. We have emailed you some questions to further assist you with your project.

  • http://www.ritdye.com Mikayla Saunders

    Hi, I’ve bought some cream silk which I’m looking to dye, I want to do half emerald green and half a pale grey, do you think it will colour right being cream to start? I’ve never coloured before so any help and advice is greatly appreciated, thank you

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Mikayla, Since the material is starting as an off white, you should get good results with the two colors you have selected. Hope this helps!

  • Mary Haydock

    What about using Dye More in the washer? The garment is large and will not move freely in a large pot. I’m less concerned that it won’t dye dark enough than I am about getting even color

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Mary, Dye More can stain any plastic pieces in the washing machine. Let us know if you have any other questions.

      • Mary Haydock

        That wasn’t my question. I should have clarified. Because the washer can’t maintain that simmering temp, will the garment take the dye? It’s 100% polyester

        • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

          Hi Mary, Dye More works best in the hottest water possible (180-212 degrees). Polyester requires the high water temperature to allow the fibers of the fabric to open up for maximum dye absorption. We would not suggest using the washing machine for dyeing using Dye More. If you want to give the bucket method a try, make sure to use boiling water so you are starting out with the hottest water possible. Please keep in mind that since the material is 100% polyester it may not dye as dark or bright as if the stovetop method is used.

          • Mary Haydock

            It’s a lousy picture, but i wanted you to see my washer dyed project on a polyester beaded gown. I washed it on delicate, on the hottest temp for 45 minutes. I used graphite on an ivory original. The color can’t out even and exactly what i wanted! Despite your recommendations, i wanted to try this. Dye more is a great product! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93d57ab09a0a4ef22e77671714596c07eabe6d46690af792aa71a251b3039170.jpg

          • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

            Hi Mary, Thank you for sharing the picture of the gown you dyed. The dress looks amazing and we are happy to hear you think DyeMore is a great product!

  • Elizabeth Becker-McFall

    I have a cotton coverlet but I think the thread is polyester. I tried t dye it and need to redo for a darker color but the thread did not change at all. should I use dye more and regular rit dye

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for reaching out. You can use DyeMore for the whole project. DyeMore will dye natural fibers such as cotton as well as the synthetic thread, by using both you would be mixing colors and may not get what you want. You can use Rit Color Remover to take the 1st dye out and try again using the DyeMore. Hope this helps.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hello Karen,
    Thank you for reaching out. Every bottle of dye is good for two pounds of dry weight fabric. We recommend about 3 gallons of water per pound of fabric. You will need to agitate it in the hot dye bath for at least 30 minutes. Here are some step by step instructions for bucket dyeing.
    https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/sink-or-bucket-technique/
    Hope this helps.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Lynn, Thank you for reaching out. For a small load in the washing machine you would use the 1 1/2 teaspoon and 3/4 teaspoon. For a large load, you would double that amount. The 2-4 bottle amount is when you are dyeing using just the one color and not a recipe. Hope this helps!

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hello Lynn,
    Thank you for reaching out. Different recipes and combinations result in different amounts of dye needed. If you are concerned about the color, you are able to stick a piece of paper towel in the dye bath and that will give you the approximate hue. At that point you will be able to add more if needed, this will help make sure that the intended color is reached. Hope this helps.

  • meital

    If I am using 4 bottles of dye for my couch slip cover, how much salt do I need to use? is it still 1 cup? Or is it 1 cup per bottle of dye?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello, Thank you for reaching out. It is still the 1 cup needed per dye bath, hope this helps.

  • Joanna

    I would like to dye a white cotton jersey comforter to the custom peach color with my front loader washing machine. I understand you would use 3-4 bottles of the standard liquid dyes but I do not understand how much to use once I make the mixture listed in the custom color area (with the tangerine and tan).

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Joanna,
      Thank you for reaching out. We have sent a message to your personal e-mail so that we may better assist you. Please get back to us at your convenience.

  • Melanie

    I learned something very important today. Front loading high efficiency washing machine works great to dye fabric BUT NEVER stop the load and start it again, hoping to get more dyeing time. My washer drains and spins when I do that. Thus I washed almost two bottles of beautiful Aquamarine dye down the drain. My rayon dress took the dye but it came out more pale than I like. I will buy some more dye and try again.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Jo An, Nylon, silk and wool require vinegar. Cotton, rayon, ramie, linen and blends require salt. Hope this helps!

  • Panda8100

    I’m a bit confused on whether to use salt or vinegar.. I’m dyeing an old wedding dress made of silk, tulle and lace.
    So which one do I use salt or vinegar ??? Help please! ?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello, Tulle and lace can be made from either natural or synthetic fabric. Please provide the fabric and fabric percentages from the care tag on the dress. Once we have this information, we will be better able to assist you. Thanks!

  • Sandy

    Want to dye my bedroom curtains…they are 80% polyester and 20% cotton. Which do I use the salt or the vinegar? Also just want the color to be a light aquamarine, is 2 bottles enough? Please reply quickly ready to start my project. Thanks

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Sandy, 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. Since the fabric is a high percentage of polyester, DyeMore would be the recommended dye to use. There are 12 colors available: http://store.ritstudio.com/rit-dyemore/ Instructions for using DyeMore can be viewed at https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/dyemore/ Neither salt nor vinegar is required. Unfortunately, due to the limited colors, we are not able to offer a color recipe for a light aquamarine. Let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Sabrina,
    Thank you for reaching out. Are you using liquid or powder dye? What type of fabric are you dyeing? Is your machine a low water submersion machine? The fabric must be able to be completely submerged in the hot dye solution for 30 minutes of agitation. If it is a low water machine that continually rinses the fabric but never submerges it then you will need to find another machine or try another dye method. Please get back to us at your convenience so that we may better assist you.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Saran,
    Thank you for reaching out. Please keep in mind that if the fabric has more then 10% of spandex then the amount of heat needed to dye the covers could damage the elasticity of the fabric. Every bottle of dye is good for 2 pounds of dry weight fabric. Since you are dyeing black, we would recommend doubling the amount of dye required. Hope this helps.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Monica,
    Thank you for reaching out. Since the fabric is polyester, you would need to use our DyeMore line of dyes. DyeMore must be used on the stove top to activate and dye the fabric correctly. We currently have 12 colors available.
    You can find the DyeMore line at Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabric, Wal-Mart or online.
    http://store.ritstudio.com/rit-dyemore/
    Please keep in mind that if there is any kind of water/sun proofing coating on the outdoor pillows then our dyes will not be able to penetrate it and dye that fabric. The dye would wash off.
    Hope this helps.

    • Kimber Anderson-Smith

      So you cannot use the dyemore in washing machine?

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hi Sherie, The reason that salt of vinegar is added to a dyebath is to help intensify the color. The salt does not lock in the dye. The salt is recommended, but not required. Since you front loader does not allow you to add the salt at the appropriate time, you can omit using it. Let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with

  • PM “RedGurl” Stevens

    I would like to dye 17 sheer bodysuits (nylon/polyester) black. How many bottles of dye would I need. I’m hoping I could use the washer method. In total they all weigh about 1 pound.

    • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

      Hello, Thank you for reaching out. We have two different dyes to choose from, depending on the material. What are the percentages of nylon and polyester listed on the care tag? Once we have this information we will be better able to assist you. Thanks!

      • PM “RedGurl” Stevens

        95% polyester, 5% nylon

        • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

          Hello,
          Thank you for reaching out. Since the fabric is synthetic, you would need to use the DyeMore line of dyes.
          https://www.ritdye.com/color-library/rit-dyemore/
          The Graphite shade will dye most fabric black however high amounts of polyester may only be able to acheive a dark grey. Here are the step by step instructions for using DyeMore.
          https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/dyemore/
          We recommend using 1 full bottle per pound of fabric (to 3 gallons of almost boiling water) since you are using a dark color.
          Hope this helps.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hi Taylor, We are sorry to hear your project did not achieve the color result you intended. We have emailed you some questions that will help us to better assist you with your project.

  • Jennifer

    I’m planning on re-dying faded black jeans and using a front load washer. It would make sense that less dye would be required because the water level is much lower than a top loader. Is this taken into account in the chart above? And if so, does it matter that my jeans are mostly black now and just need a touch up rather than trying to dye from a light colour?

    • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

      Hi Jennifer, Thank you for reaching out. Generally, when using low water machines, they do not fill up enough to completely submerge the fabric in the hot dye solution. This can result in a splotchy color outcome. Some other low water machines continually rinse the fabric with clean water. This will remove the dye from the machine and the fabric before it can adhere to the material. If you would like to try dyeing in your front load machine, the instructions can be found at https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/washing-machine-front-loader/ Hope this helps!

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Chris,

    When a fabric has these sort of finishes. Our dyes will not adhere to the fabric.

    Thank you,
    Rit Dye

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Cheryl,

    You are more than welcome to try our Color Fixative. This product expands the lifespan of the dye and prevents bleeding. You may also try this method mentioned. Making sure you prepare your load of water first with the detergent and dye before you add in your black clothes.

    Thank you,
    Rit Dye

  • April

    I want to dye a queen size chenille bedspread from white to black. Is there a way to make the raised chenille pattern darker than the recessed fabric? Like the raised part is completely black and the recessed more of a faded black/dark grey.
    Thanks!

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hi Traci, We would love to further discuss your big project! Can you please email info@ritdye.com for further assistance. Thanks!

 

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