You may have heard that you can’t dye synthetic fabrics at home. That’s not entirely true. You can dye synthetic fabrics at home, but they’re harder to dye than natural ones. You have to make sure to use the right kind of dye and the right dyeing methods. So how do you dye synthetic fabric at home?
To dye synthetic fabric at home, you must use disperse dye, such as Rit DyeMore. This type of dye has a specific chemical composition that the fabric will accept. You must also use the stovetop method to dye synthetic fabrics because heat is required to get the dye to take to the fabric.
In this article, I’ll explain how to dye synthetic fabric at home, including all the materials and steps you’ll need. I’ll also explain other things to keep in mind when dyeing synthetic fabrics and why only certain types of dye can be used. Continue reading to learn more.
Can You Dye a Synthetic Fabric?
Synthetic fabrics can be dyed. Many of us buy clothing made from synthetic fabric from stores, and that clothing is usually dyed. However, can you dye synthetic fabrics at home yourself? Yes, you can, but the process for doing so is a bit trickier than dyeing natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, or linen.
Why is that the case? It’s because synthetic fabrics are made of plastic polymers (or fibers). The most common plastic fiber used to make synthetic fabrics is polyester, but there are others, such as nylon, acetate, acrylic, etc. Plastic is notorious for repelling water because the chemicals that make up fibers are hydrophobic. This means that they are “afraid” of water when taken literally.
It also means that synthetic fibers, and synthetic fabric, as a result, tend to repel most types of clothing dye that are water-based. If you want clothing dye to take to a synthetic fabric, you have to use a specific type of dye that isn’t hydrophobic. You also have to make sure that you use the right dyeing method. This includes following the steps carefully so the fabric holds the dye without damage.
What Is the Best Dye for Synthetic Fabric?
Disperse dye is the best type of dye (and really, the only type) to use for synthetic fabrics. Disperse dye has a different kind of composition than other types of clothing dyes. They are derived from certain oils, which give them a similar composition to what the synthetic fibers are made of. This allows the synthetic fibers to accept the dye better than they would water-based dyes.
One of the best and most popular dyes used for dyeing synthetic fabric is Rit DyeMore. This non-toxic dye comes in a wide range of colors. Other types of dyes will work for synthetic fabrics, but Rit DyeMore is just the most commonly used and tends to work the best.
The bottom line is that whatever type of dye you’re trying to use for synthetic fabrics, make sure that it is either labeled as a disperse dye or synthetic fabrics.
How to Dye Synthetic Fabric at Home
Now that you know what type of dye to use for dyeing synthetic fabrics, you can do it at home yourself. It’s not a hard process, especially if you have prior knowledge and experience in dyeing fabrics at home.
However, with synthetic fabrics, there is a certain dyeing method that you have to use to get the best results. It’s the only method you can use, which means that you have to follow the steps carefully. Here’s everything you need to know about how to dye synthetic fabric at home.
- Disperse dye (such as Rit DyeMore)
- Stainless steel pot
- Measuring cup
- Plastic gloves
- Dish detergent
- Newspaper/plastic tablecloth
There are many methods that you can use to dye fabrics at home. However, when it comes to synthetic fabric, you need to use the stovetop method. This is because of the level of heat needed to allow synthetic fibers to relax and “open up” enough to be accepting of the dye.
Follow these steps for dyeing synthetic fabrics carefully:
- Weigh the clothing (while dry) you want to dye to determine how much dye you need. The packaging will tell you how much dye to use according to the weight.
- Before dyeing the whole garment, it is recommended to test a small section or a fabric swatch to see how the dye will appear. You can use more dye to make the color darker, if necessary.
- Remove any stains from the clothing or fabric, then wash it without using fabric softener to ensure it is clean.
- Cover your work area with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to prevent any dye from getting on your countertops or table and staining.
- Wear rubber gloves, old clothes, or an apron to prevent stains on your hands and clothes you don’t want the dye to get on.
Dyeing the Fabric
- Fill a large stainless steel pot with enough water to cover the fabric and enable it to move freely. Stainless steel is necessary to prevent the dye from staining the pot.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to the water. This will help the fabric dye more evenly.
- Cover the pot and heat it until the water is just below boiling. The ideal water temperature is about 200℉.
- Shake the dye well, then add it to the pot when the water is simmering. Mix the dye into the water until it is evenly dispersed.
- Wet the fabric thoroughly before placing it into the pot with the dye.
- Keeping the water temperature at a simmer, use tongs to continuously stir the clothing around in the dye for at least 10 minutes. Continual stirring is crucial for the clothing to dye evenly.
- If dyeing nylon, you can remove the fabric from the dye after 10-20 minutes. If dyeing polyester or polyester blends, it’s recommended to leave the fabric in the dye for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to still stir the fabric continuously.
- Remove the fabric from the dye once the color you want is achieved and squeeze out the excess dye. Remember that the color may look lighter when the fabric has dried.
- Rinse the fabric under warm water, making the water gradually cooler until the water coming off the fabric starts to run clear.
- Hand wash the fabric using warm water and mild detergent. Then rinse the fabric and let it dry.
You may wish to consider some other things when dyeing synthetic fabrics.
If the fabric you’re dyeing is white, you don’t have too much to worry about, as any color should stand out and look great. However, if you’re dyeing clothing or fabric that has already been dyed, you will need to dye the fabric a darker color. And, you may not get the true color of the new dye when dyeing fabric that is already colored. There are dye removers on the market that can be used to remove dye from clothing, but most of them don’t work on synthetic fabrics.
If the fabric you’re dyeing has any patterns or logos, dyeing it will be a bit trickier. You won’t be able to avoid getting color on the patterns and logos. That being said, any patterns and logos will look different after the dyeing process is complete. Rit Dye offers a helpful resource on what to expect when dyeing clothing with patterns and logos.
Dyeing Bleach Stains
If you’re dyeing clothing to cover up a bleach stain, note that it may not work the way you intend it to. This is because bleach can damage the fibers more than just on a surface level, and the bleached areas may not take to the dye and the rest of the fabric. The bleach stains may still be noticeable after you dye them.
The same is true for stains that aren’t caused by bleach. If any stains are on the fabric, it may cause the fabric to dye unevenly. Chemical residues, including from using fabric softeners, can also cause uneven dyeing. This is why it’s important to remove stains and wash any fabric before you try to dye it.
Washing the Fabric
If you use the right dye and dyeing methods, the dye should take to the fabric very well. But, if you didn’t use the right dye or didn’t rinse the fabric out well, the dye may bleed some when you wash it. It’s important to wash newly dyed fabric by itself for the first couple of washes to ensure that the dye doesn’t bleed onto your other clothes.
Will Dylon Dye Work on Synthetic Fabric?Besides Rit Dye, another popular fabric dye brand is Dylon dye. So, you may be wondering whether or not Dylon dye works for dyeing synthetic fabrics. Unfortunately, the answer is no. This is because Dylon is a reactive dye and won’t take to synthetic fibers. Dylon dye should only be used to dye natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool, and silk.
It’s also worth noting that Dylon, and some other dyes, are designed to be used to dye clothes in the washing machine. Even though you can’t dye synthetic fabrics using Dylon dye, you shouldn’t use the washing machine method to dye synthetic fibers with any other type of dye either. This includes Rit DyeMore. The reason is that the washing machine water doesn’t get hot enough to relax synthetic fibers enough to accept the dye.
Can You Dye Synthetic Fabric Naturally?
Many people prefer to use natural dyes to dye their clothing because they are more eco-friendly. Examples of natural dyes include dye made from plants, fruits and vegetables, and even Kool-Aid. The dyes can be very effective for certain types of fabrics. But can you use natural dyes with synthetic fabric?
You can always try, especially if you use the stovetop method. However, you may not have much success. The reason is that natural dyes don’t have the same chemical composition as disperse dyes.
Even if you successfully dye the clothing, the color may be lighter than intended or may bleed and fade more than usual. This is because the fabric may not hold the natural dye as well as it does commercial dyes.
For best results when dyeing synthetic fabrics, stick with commercial dyes designed for those fabrics. If you want to dye clothes naturally, then dyeing natural fabrics such as cotton and linen is your best bet.
Hopefully, now you know how to dye synthetic fabric at home. It can be done as long as you use disperse dye made for synthetic fabrics and use the stovetop method. This will give you the most favorable results. If you found this guide helpful, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!