Machine dry or air dry dyed clothing.

How to Dye Faded Clothes

by Hilary White

Refreshing your favorite jeans or bringing new life to old T-shirts may be as simple as buying a package or bottle of fabric dye. Inexpensive and available in a wide array of colors, easy-to-use dyes can brighten up your wardrobe while saving you money.

1 Assess the type of fabric to be dyed. Fabric dyes works best on natural, washable fabrics, including cotton, linen, silk, ramie and wool; and synthetics such as nylon and rayon. Fabrics with at least 60-percent cotton or other dyeable fiber will dye evenly but won't attain full color. Avoid dying clothing made of 100-percent polyester, acrylic, spandex or metallic fibers; clothing with bleach damage or excessive stains; clothing washable only in cold water; and garments labeled "dry clean only."

2 Wash the clothing to be dyed, removing any stains with a stain remover or color remover to ensure even color.

3 Calculate the amount of dye to use by the weight or size of the garment. For reference, a typical T-shirt weighs about 5 ounces, while a pair of jeans weighs about 1 pound. Consult the dye's label for instructions.

4 Select your colors. Use a single color or mix several colors to achieve the desired shade. Check dye manufacturers' websites for a color formula guide that tells you the exact amount of each dye to mix together to get your perfect color and hue.

5 Choose to dye your garments in a washing machine, in a pot on the stove top, or in a bucket or sink. Using the washing machine is easy and convenient for large items. Because heat helps the dye penetrate, the stove-top method is best when using black or dark-colored dyes. Choose to use a bucket or the sink for small or delicate garments.

6 Wear gloves to avoid staining your hands. Dissolve powder or liquid dye in water according to the directions on the package. Create deeper, more intense color by adding 1 cup of salt to the dye bath of clothes that contain cotton, rayon, ramie or linen; or 1 cup of white vinegar when dying nylon, silk or wool.

7 Fill the pot, bucket or washing machine with water according to the directions, adding the pre-dissolved dye and salt or vinegar, and immerse clothing. Let garments soak the maximum time for the deepest color, stirring or agitating as directed.

8 Remove clothes from the dye bath and rinse in warm water. Finish rinsing with cool water until the water runs clear.

9 Wash clothes in warm water with a mild detergent, finishing with a cold-water rinse, and machine dry or hang to dry.

10 Immediately clean your sink, bucket or pot with chlorine bleach. Clean your washing machine by running a full wash cycle, using the hot water and the highest water level along with 1 cup of chlorine bleach.

Items you will need

  • Liquid or powder fabric dye
  • Rubber gloves
  • Salt or white vinegar
  • Chlorine bleach

Tips

  • Test a swatch first if you're unsure how your clothing will accept the dye. Even if the fabric is dyeable, it's possible the thread used in your garment won't accept the dye.
  • Adding a tablespoon of laundry detergent to the dye bath may help garments dye more evenly.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images