Synthetic fabrics are notorious for being difficult to dye or not holding dye well. The composition of the fibers that synthetic fabrics are made of means that they don’t absorb the dye the same way that natural fibers do. Despite being a synthetic fiber, nylon is the exception to this. But can you dye nylon at home?
Nylon can be dyed rather easily at home as long as you use the right type of dye. Here are the steps for how to dye nylon:
- Decide which type of dye and color to use
- Use the stove to heat a pot of water
- Add the dye to the water
- Add the nylon to the pot to absorb the dye
- Take the nylon out and rinse it with warm water
- Continue to rinse the fabric in gradually cooler water
- Hang the nylon up to dry
Many different dyes can be used for nylon, including chemical and natural, although some may provide better color payoff than others. In this article, I’ll discuss the types of dyes you can use. I’ll also discuss dyeing techniques for various types of nylon fabric. Continue reading to learn more.
Can You Dye Nylon?
Unlike most synthetic fabrics, you should be able to dye nylon at home with very little trouble. While nylon will accept most types of dye, some are designed specifically for synthetic fabrics like nylon. Using chemical dyes will provide the best results. But if you prefer natural dyeing methods, then you shouldn’t have a problem using those either.
Before we get into the different types of dyes that you can use and how to dye nylon, I need to provide a disclaimer. Although nylon is easier to dye than most synthetic fabrics, it is still a synthetic fabric, so there are precautions that you need to take.
The fibers that make up synthetic fabrics are essentially made from plastic. We all know that plastic can melt when exposed to heat. The same is true for nylon fabric. It is possible when dyeing nylon fabric that you inadvertently damage it in the process. Use caution when dyeing nylon and follow the instructions carefully to prevent this from happening.
What Can You Use to Dye Nylon?
The first step to dyeing nylon is to choose your dye. But with so many types of the dye out there, how do you know which one to choose? It ultimately depends on what you want the color to look like and how you feel about using chemical dyes versus natural ones.
The following dyes that are mentioned will all work well for nylon. However, you may get different results than what the color looks like when you’re finished.
To achieve the most accurate color, acid dye is the type of dye you want to use and the preferred type for dyeing nylon fabric. Acid dye works well on synthetic fabrics because it is made up of only one type of dye. By using acid dye, the color of the finished product will match the original dye color more closely than any other type of dye.
Another type of dye that can work for dyeing nylon is an all-purpose dye. This type of dye is readily available in craft stores and comes in a lot of colors. However, when using an all-purpose dye for nylon fabric, the color of the finished product may not match the dye color exactly.
This is because all-purpose dyes are designed to work on all fabric types, making up of two different types of dye. The dye formula contains direct dye, which works on natural fibers like cotton, and leveling-acid dye, which works for synthetic fabrics like nylon. These two types of dyes make up the color.
But when using an all-purpose dye for nylon, the fabric will only accept the leveling-acid dye and not the direct dye. The color of the finished product may be different from the original dye color.
The last type of dye you can use for nylon is a natural dye. Natural dyes work well if you’re on a budget or prefer to use products that contain fewer chemicals.
The downside to using natural dye is that depending on what you use, you may not know exactly what shade of a particular color you’re going to end up with. Examples of natural dyes you can use include coffee, tea, vegetables, and even drink mixes.
How to Dye Nylon
Now that you’ve chosen your dye, it’s time to dye your nylon fabric. Here, I’ll cover how to use different types of dye so that you can be successful and happy with the finished product.
Rit Dye is a trusted and popular brand for dyeing fabrics. But for synthetic fibers like nylon, there is a specific Rit product that you’ll need called Rit DyeMore. Here are the steps for how to use it.
- Weigh the fabric that you’re going to dye to see how much dye you will need. The instructions on the packaging will guide you as to how much dye to use for a particular weight.
- Be sure that the fabric is clean before you attempt to dye it. Remove any stains and wash and dye the fabric as you normally would before dyeing it.
- Do not use fabric softener, as this can create a layer on top of the fabric that can interfere with the fabric absorbing the dye.
- It is a good idea to cover your work area with a cheap tablecloth or newspaper to prevent stains from any possible spills. You should also wear rubber gloves to protect your skin and prevent burns.
- Find a pot that is large enough to hold the fabric you’re dyeing. Fill the pot with enough water to submerge the fabric and allow it to move freely.
- Add five milliliters of dish detergent to the water. This will help ensure that the dye is distributed evenly for level dyeing.
- Place the pot of water on the stove and turn on the eye to heat the water to a temperature below boiling.
- Once the water is simmering, add the appropriate amount of dye and stir the water to mix it well.
- Place the fabric into the water and stir it continuously for about 10 minutes. This will ensure the evenest distribution of dye.
- Leave the item in the dye bath for as long as necessary to achieve the color you want. Remember that nylon dyes better than other synthetic fabrics, so you shouldn’t need to keep it in the water for too long. Just check it periodically to ensure that it doesn’t dye darker than you intended.
- Once it is the color you want, use tongs to remove it from the water. Squeeze out any excess dye.
- Begin by rinsing the fabric in warm water, then make the water temperature gradually colder until the water runs clear.
- Hand wash the fabric with a mild detergent or wash it in the washing machine. If you wash it in the washing machine, wash it by itself to prevent dye from bleeding onto your other fabrics.
- Hang up the item to dry.
Food ColoringFor a cheap but effective way to dye nylon fabric, you can use food coloring or powdered Kool-Aid drink mix. Both food coloring and drink mix come in various colors, so you still have plenty of choices.
Here are the steps you should follow for dyeing nylon fabric with food coloring and Kool-Aid:
- Weigh the fabric while it is dry to see how much food coloring or Kool-Aid you need to use.
- Before dyeing the fabric, remove any stains and wash it to make sure that it is clean. Dirt, oil, and stains on the fabric can interfere with the dyeing being absorbed.
- Fill a large pot with water. The water should be enough to cover the fabric and allow it to move freely in the water.
- Turn the stove eye on medium-high heat until the water is simmering. Don’t let the water come to a complete boil.
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the water. Vinegar is acidic and will help the nylon fabric to better absorb the dye.
- If using food coloring, add about 10 drops of food coloring per pound of fabric. This should provide plenty of color. But, you can see what the color looks like before dyeing the fabric by dipping a paper towel into the water.
- If using Kool-Aid, one packet will provide great color. Make sure to completely dissolve the powder. Again, you can dip a paper towel into the water to see what the color looks like before dyeing.
- Once the dye is your desired color, add the fabric to the water. Stir the fabric in the water for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, leave the fabric in the water. It will continue to absorb the dye. Leaving it in for 30 minutes to an hour should give you a good color payoff.
- Once the fabric has been dyed, remove it from the heat. Allow the water to cool until it is room temperature. Remove the fabric and squeeze out excess water.
- Rinse the fabric under warm water, then gradually cooler water. You can stop rinsing when the water runs clear.
- Squeeze out excess water. Then, hang the fabric to air dry.
How to Dye Nylon Using Natural Dyes
Natural dyes are dyes that are extracted from plant sources. The great thing about using natural dyes to dye nylon is that you can save money by using what you have. You can also buy them cheaply at the store. Coffee, tea, and vegetables can all be used to make natural dyes.
When using natural dyes, the process is slightly different because you first have to extract the dye from whatever you’re using. Here, I’ll cover how to use coffee, tea, or vegetables to dye nylon.
Using coffee as the dye will give your nylon fabrics a nice neutral, dark brown color. It is best to use instant coffee to get the best color results because it is already ground up and will be less time-consuming. And as usual, make sure the fabric is stain-free and clean before dyeing it.
To extract the dye from the coffee, you should first boil the water. Fill a pot with water and turn the stove to high heat until the water is boiling. Once it has started boiling, add ½ cup of instant coffee grounds. The water will turn brown as the coffee boils.
After the water is brown, turn off the heat. It is no longer necessary for the water to boil; it only needs to be hot. Place the fabric in the water. Stir it around for a few minutes to distribute the color. Leave the fabric in the water until it is the desired color or until the water cools to room temperature.
If you need to heat the water again to achieve a darker color, you can do so. But you’ll want to use tongs to remove the fabric first, then place it back in the water once it has been reheated. However, fabrics will only get so dark without adding more dye.
Once the fabric is the color you want, use tongs to carefully take it out of the water. Rinse the fabric under warm and then gradually cooler water. When the water turns clear, stop rinsing and gently squeeze out the excess. Air-dry the fabric.
When washing the fabric, use cool water to prevent the color from bleeding. Some natural dyes don’t have the staying power that chemical dyes do, especially with synthetic fabrics.
Using tea as a dye is similar to using coffee, but it takes a little longer and will give you a light brown or beige color instead of dark brown. Remember to ensure that the fabric is as clean as possible before dyeing it. Then, fill a large pot with water. Measure how much water you add to the pot. To achieve the best color results, use one teabag per cup of water.
Place the tea bags in the water, then heat the water on high heat until it is boiling. After that, turn it down to simmering and place your fabric in the water. Stir the water for a few minutes to distribute the fabric. Let the fabric simmer in the tea for an hour or until your desired color is reached.
Once the fabric is the desired color, take it out of the water. Empty the water from the pot and replace it with new water. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water and soak the fabric for 45 minutes to an hour to absorb the dye. Rinse the fabric under warm and then gradually cooler water. When the water turns clear, stop rinsing and gently squeeze out the excess.
If you want more brightly colored fabrics, you can also use vegetables as a natural dye. Here are some vegetables you can use to achieve different colors.
- Beets for red
- Carrots for orange
- Turmeric for yellow
- Spinach for green
- Red cabbage for purple
Whichever vegetable you choose, you will first need to chop it up very finely. Then, add water to a large pot. Place your chopped vegetables in the water. Heat the water on medium-high heat and let the vegetables simmer for about an hour. Then, turn off the heat and strain the water into a separate pot to remove the vegetables. You should be left with colored water.
Next, place the nylon in the heated water and stir it around to evenly distribute it. How dark you want the color to be will determine how long you leave the fabric in the water. Leave it in the water for an hour or two, or even overnight, to obtain a dark color.
Once the desired color has been reached, remove the fabric from the water. Then, run cool water over the fabric until the water runs clear. Squeeze out the excess water and let the fabric air dry.
Can You Dye Nylon With Dylon Dye?
Another type of fabric dye that is very popular is Dylon dye. You may be wondering if you can use Dylon dye for dyeing nylon. The answer is no, Dylon dye will not work for synthetic fabrics like nylon.Dylon dyes are intended for natural fibers such as cotton, silk, and linen. If you try to dye nylon using Dylon dye, you won’t have very much success. Likely, the nylon fibers won’t accept the color. Even if it does accept the color, it will likely be lighter or will wash out easily.
How to Dye Nylon Rope
Although nylon rope is durable, it may not look the best. You can change the color of it by dyeing it. Acid dye is the best type of dye to use for nylon rope. Here’s how to do it:
- Weigh the amount of rope you have to know how much dye to use.
- Fill a pot with water and add the dye. Follow the instructions on the packaging to see how much dye to use based on weight.
- Place the rope into the water and heat the water to a simmer.
- Let the rope simmer in the water for about 10 minutes.
- Add a ¼ of vinegar to the water to aid in color retention.
- Let the rope simmer in the water for another 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the water cool.
- Remove the rope and rinse it under warm, then gradually cooler water until the water runs clear. Then let the rope dry.
How to Dye Nylon Yarn
Nylon yarn can be dyed using any type of dye that works with synthetic fibers. The acid dye will give you the best results, but the type of dye you use ultimately depends on your preference. The process for dyeing nylon yarn is also the same as dyeing nylon fabric. Once you’ve chosen your dye, just jump to the appropriate section in this article and follow the instructions.
Can You Tie Dye Nylon?
You can tie-dye nylon, but you can usually only have success tie-dyeing with one color. With other fabrics, you can squirt the dye onto the fabric. It’s more controllable, so you can use more colors. But with nylon, the fabric has to soak in dye to have the best results. You can still create unique designs even with only one color. The best type of dye to use for tie-dyeing nylon is Rit Dye.
How to Tie-Dye Nylon
- Make sure that the fabric you want to dye is clean.
- Use rubber bands to create your tie-dye design.
- Once you have created the design, then follow the instructions under the Rit Dye subheading above.
It is also recommended to add a tablespoon of salt to the water when tie-dyeing. The salt will help open up the fibers so that they will accept the dye better.
Watch this video to learn how to create different tie-dye designs. But remember that with nylon, it is best to just stick with one color dye.
I hope this article provided you with plenty of useful techniques for dyeing nylon fabric. Nylon will accept most dyes, although some have a better color payoff than others. No matter which type of dye you use, follow the instructions carefully to prevent damage to the fabric and yourself. If you enjoyed this article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!