How to Dye Clothing

by Contributing Writer

Shopping for clothing can be frustrating if you are looking for something in a color that you just can't find. One of the most overlooked and under-appreciated ways to deal with this situation is to dye your clothing to the color you desire. By hand dyeing clothing, you have complete control over exactly what color it will be. It's also inexpensive and simple enough for a beginner.

Items you will need

  • Liquid dye
  • Swatch of practice material
  • Clothing you wish to dye
  • Large stock pot
  • Plastic wrap
  • Detergent for delicates
  • Metal tongs
  • Rubber gloves
Step 1

Prepare the dye bath. In the largest stockpot you can find, pour in 2 to 3 gallons of clean water. Empty half of the bottle of dye into the water and stir with a wooden stick. Place the stockpot on the stove and turn the flame on to high. Let the water and dye mixture come up to a simmer. This will take some time, but be patient. Do not attempt to dye anything until the water is at a gentle simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, lower the heat to medium and maintain the simmer.

Step 2

Test the dye for correct color saturation. Take the test swatch of cloth (this should be the same material and color as the other clothing you are going to dye) and drop it into the solution. Let it simmer in the solution for 5 minutes, then take it out. Rinse it in cold water and look at the color. If it is too light, add more dye. If it is too dark, dilute the solution with more water and bring it back up to a simmer.

Step 3

Drop the clothing you wish to dye into the solution. You can successfully dye a pound of clothing at a time using this method. Gently place each individual item into the liquid, one at a time. Once all items are completely submerged, stir the solution constantly while keeping the pot at a simmer the entire time. Do this for 40 to 50 minutes.

Step 4

Rinse the clothing. Rescue the clothing from the solution with the tongs and set it aside in a sink. Dump the dyed solution and rinse out the pot. Almost all dye made for home use now is non-toxic and able to be processed by any city sewage system. Dump the water in a sink where the procelain isn't cracked. If the sink's porcelain is cracked, cover the bottom of the sink with plastic wrap, poking a hole in the middle for the water. Pour the colored water directly into the hole.

Step 5

Refill the pot with cold, clean water and put the clothing back in. With gloved hands, agitate the clothing in the water, until the water has changed color from the dye coming off of the clothing. Dump the water, wring out the clothing, replace with new clean water and repeat. Keep repeating this until the cold water rinses completely clear.

Step 6

Dry and wash the clothing. Let the newly dyed clothing drip-dry. After this, the clothing will be stiff. Handwash the clothing in your sink in cold water with a detergent made for delicates. Let it drip dry again. From then on, machine wash in cold water only with like colors and dry in a delicate cycle.

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