our everyday life

How to Dye a Satin Dress

by Mercedes Valladares, studioD

Instead of shelling out big bucks for a special occasion outfit, why not revamp an old dress by dyeing it a different color? A silk satin dress hanging in your closet can look new again in a new hue. Silk satin frocks require a specific type of dye to ensure that the color permanently bonds to the natural fibers. Because home dyeing kits are generally water-based, read care labels carefully to ensure that the dress you are working with is machine washable.

Dye-Bath Preparation

Wash your dress in an industrial-strength textile detergent. This process removes any sizing or finishing treatments added to the dress fabric.

Wear a smock, rubber gloves and protective eye-wear. If you are working in your kitchen, make sure the room is well-ventilated. Open windows in your work area, if possible, to counter the effects of harsh and potentially harmful chemicals and fumes.

Read the instructions for the fiber-reactive dye to prepare a dye bath. Generally, pour 1 to 5 teaspoons of the dye -- depending on your desired color intensity -- in a measuring cup. Add 3 to 5 drops of cold water. Use the backside of a disposable plastic or stainless steel spoon to blend the water into the dye to create a paste-like substance.

Add 1 cup of hot water -- 140 degrees Fahrenheit -- to the paste mixture. Stir with a craft stick.

Pour the dye-bath into a stainless steel or enamel pot. Make sure it is large enough to hold your dress but not too large for a stove burner.

Pour 3 to 9 tablespoons of non-iodized table salt into 2 cups of warm water. Stir with your craft stick until the salt completely dissolves.

Pour the salt-water solution into the dye-bath. Continuing stirring until the salt solution blends into the dye bath.

Silk Satin Dyeing Process

Immerse the dress into the dye bath and stir it several times with your craft stick. Slow pour water into the dye bath until the water level covers the dress.

Simmer the dye bath on the stove according to the product's recommended time; generally, about 10 minutes will do. Check the dye bath as it simmers to ensure that it does not come to a boil.

Pour 2/3 cup of vinegar into the dye bath and stir. The vinegar will help the silk retain its sheen.

Continue to simmer the dress in the dye bath for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the stove. Move the pot from the stove to your sink. Carefully take out the dress. Make sure the dress drips dye into the sink.

Rinse the dress in running hot water until the rinsing water runs clear. Wash the dress once again in industrial-strength textile detergent. Dry the dress according to its care label instructions.

Items you will need
  •  Industrial-strength textile detergent
  •  Smock
  •  Rubber gloves
  •  Protective eyewear
  •  Fiber-reactive dye
  •  Measuring cup
  •  Disposable plastic or stainless steel teaspoon
  •  Craft stick.
  •  Stainless steel or enamel pot
  •  Non-iodized table salt
  •  Vinegar


  • Do not attempt to dye dresses that require dry cleaning. This can permanently damage your dress.

About the Author

Mercedes Valladares is the founder of M721Organics and has been an independent designer for over 15 years. Her work experience commenced during college with manufacturers based in New York and Hong Kong. Her education includes LIM College, International Fine Arts College and design certification from the Paris Fashion Institute. She produces eco-crafting videos and writes recycling articles online.

Photo Credits

  • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images