Techniques . Tips for Success
Tips for Successful Dyeing
Whether you are looking to refresh the colors of your wardrobe, ombre-dye curtains for your bedroom, or create Halloween costumes for your children, Rit Dye can help you get there. Our tips for success help you pick the right fabric for your project, attain the color you are looking for, and learn the easiest way to clean up and care for your items.
- Item(s) to dye
- Rit Dye, liquid or powder
- Test swatch, optional
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Large metal spoon
- Cook pot, 3-gallon container, or washing machine
- Kitchen scale, optional
- Paper towels or sponges
- Plastic table cover
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic table cover or newspaper
Step by Step
CHOOSING FABRICS. Rit works best on many natural, washable fabrics and materials, such as:
a. 100% cotton, linen, silk, wool, ramie
b. Synthetics such as rayon and nylon
c. Fiber blends with at least 60% cotton or other dyeable fiber (blends will tint evenly but will not achieve full color)
d. Nylon-based plastic such as those found in buttons, fasteners and lacrosse sticks
e. Natural materials such as wood, wicker, paper, feathers and cork
But there are fabrics and materials that will not accept dye, such as:
a. 100% polyester, acrylic, acetate, fiberglass, spandex and metallic fibers
b. Fabrics with rubber backing (bath mats or throw rugs)
c. Fabrics with special finishes such as water repellents
d. Fabrics with bleach damage or extensive staining
e. Fabrics washable only in cold water or labeled “dry clean only”
f. Polyethylene plastics such as golf discs
g. Polycarbonate plastics such as eyeglass frames
Fiber content and weight also effect how color appears making fabrics like cotton, wool and silk absorb dye differently, slightly changing the hue and brightness of the chosen color. If you are in doubt as to whether your fabric will accept dye or achieve the color you want, we recommend testing a swatch.
DYE PREP. Cover work area with a plastic table cover or newspaper and have paper towels or sponges handy to protect against any possible spills.
Wear rubber gloves to protect hands from getting stained and to insulate them when working with hot water.
Use plastic buckets or stainless steel pots for the dye bath. You can also dye in a stainless steel sink. Don’t dye or rinse items in a porcelain or fiberglass sink or tub as they are likely to get stained./p>
ACHIEVING TRUE COLOR. Always follow manufacturer’s care instructions for your fabric as well as Rit Dye package or bottle instructions.
Remove stains on fabric or use Rit Color Remover before dyeing to get fabric to an off-white or cream color. This will help achieve uniform color results when dyeing.
Dissolve powder dye thoroughly in 2 cups of very hot water first to avoid dye spotting. Stir dissolved powder dye or well-shaken liquid dye into dye bath until evenly dispersed. Never pour liquid or powder dye directly on fabric unless looking to achieve a specific creative effect.
Be sure to use enough dye for the weight or size of the project. For example, for a pound of dry fabric (about 3 yards), use one package of Rit powder or 1/2 bottle of Rit liquid in 3 gallons of water. You want enough water for the fabric to move freely in the dye bath so that it can absorb the dye evenly across the garment.
When dyeing 1 pound of dry fabric in dark or bright colors such as Black, Dark Brown, Cocoa Brown, Navy, Purple, Wine, and Dark Green, use double the amount of dye (2 packages of Rit powder or 1 bottle of Rit liquid) in 3 gallons of water.
For the deepest color, use a water temperature of 140ºF/60ºC and keep heat constant while dyeing (the stove top method or a washing machine work best). Note: If tap water is not hot enough, heat water on the stove, in a teakettle or in the microwave.
If dyeing a garment more than one color, it’s usually best to start with the lightest color and move to the darkest.
For more intense color when dyeing fabrics containing cotton, rayon, ramie, or linen, add 1 cup salt to the dye bath. When dyeing nylon, silk and wool, add 1 cup white vinegar to the dye bath. If possible delay adding the salt or vinegar until 5 minutes after the fabric has been in the dye bath. The delay will help to promote level dyeing.
Add 1 tablespoon laundry detergent to all dye baths to help promote level dyeing.
The longer the garment is immersed in the dye bath, the deeper the resulting color. Items can remain in the dye bath up to 1 hour as long as the water remains hot. You’ll also have to make sure the item receives constant agitation or stirring.
Garments will also look darker when wet and prior to washing.
When you remove clothes from dye bath, rinse in warm, then cool water until water runs clear. (Warm water helps to rinse off surface dye more effectively.)
Wash your fabric/clothes in warm water with mild detergent and then rinse thoroughly in cool water. Machine dry or hang dry.
CARING FOR DYED ITEMS. For the first two or three times, wash your dyed item by itself in cool water with a small amount of non-bleaching detergent. Always wash your dyed clothing with similar colors in cool water with mild detergent. Dry cleaning silks and special fabrics is recommended.
CLEANUP. Clean containers and sinks immediately after dyeing by scrubbing with hot water and powdered cleanser or bleach.
Clean washing machine using highest water level with hot water, detergent and 1 cup chlorine bleach using complete wash cycle. Clean lint traps. Plastic or rubber machine parts may be tinted but will not stain laundry.