Did you know those old acrylic tubes you’ve got lying around can be used for more than creating gorgeous canvases of color?
You can actually dye clothes with acrylic paint! There’s no need to run to the craft store to revamp your old pieces with some DIY care. Using acrylic paint to dye clothes can be a fun activity to do at home, and you can even tie-dye with acrylic paints.
So how do you dye clothes with acrylic paint? To dye clothes with acrylic paint you will need to mix the paint with a fabric/textile medium and water. After applying the paint mixture to your clothing, let it soak for at least an hour. Air dry fully and then set the color further with heat using a dryer.
Dyeing clothes with acrylic paint is fairly easy and certainly consists of fewer steps than using actually fabric dye. However, you will want to keep in mind that the colorfastness might not be too great. Still, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon and can be a cheap way to make costumes or party outfits with recycled materials.
Below is everything you need to know about dyeing clothes with acrylic paint, and the best acrylic paints to use! Let’s get to it!
Dyeing Clothes With Acrylic Paint – Step By Step
Unlike using clothing dyes to color shirts, using acrylic paint is quicker to dye clothes and you can have a little more freedom on how you do it as well.
Here is what you need to dye clothes with acrylic paint:
- Plastic squeeze bottles or spray bottles
- Acrylic paint
- Fabric textile medium
- Containers to catch the paint
- Cotton-based fabric to dye
The textile medium is especially key here. Acrylic is sometimes formulated to work on textiles already, but the medium will soften up the paint and also prevents your dyed clothing from being too stiff once it dries.
How to Dye Clothes With Acrylic
Once you have everything ready, follow the below steps to get dyeing:
1. Prepare the Paint(s)
Add water and fabric textile medium to the acrylic paints. The ideal ratio is ½ part textile medium to 1 part paint to 2/3 parts of water. Adjust the quantities to suit the amount of fabric you’re dyeing.
If you can, it’s easiest to use a small bottle or jar as a measurement. Pour one container’s worth of acrylic paint into the squeeze bottle, then add half that amount of textile medium. Finally fill the container 2/3 of the way with water.
Mix it all together in a squeeze bottle if you can, or mix separately and put the solution in your squeeze bottle.
Repeat this with all the colors you are using to dye the clothes you have chosen.
2. Start Dyeing
Next, you can start dyeing. Squeeze the paint mixture from bottle onto the shirt – but be sure to hold the nozzle right on the material so the paint goes directly onto the fabric and doesn’t spray all over.
You can also rubber bands to bunch the clothes together to create a tie-dye effect. You can also dump the mixture and spread it well to dye the shirt one solid color. Or you can simply squeeze the bottle carefully to make designs.
You can really experiment with what works best for you!
Whatever your process, do it over the containers to catch any paint that might drip down off the shirt. This way you can pour unused paint back into the squeeze bottle to use again so there is no waste.
You can also use a brush to help spread the color, but make sure to clean it properly afterward to avoid ruined or crusty brushes.
3. Leave to soak and set. Air dry completely.
Once the items are dyed, place them on plastic trays to soak and leave the color(s) to set.
After leaving for an hour, remove any rubber bands and hang the pieces up to air dry. You can also heat set the colors using a dryer – or even a hair dryer – to help the “dye” last longer.
Tips & Tricks
As you can see the process of dyeing clothes with acrylic paint is quite simple. But here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind for best results:
- Use just 2 to 3 colors if you aren’t doing one solid color. This will give you the best effect. Using more than this might lead to the colors mixing too much and the clothes will have a brown color instead of the colors you wanted (see below).
- Avoid putting complimentary pairs (e.g. yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green) right next to each other. These will mix to make a muddy brown that you almost certainly do not want!
- Put just enough paint on each area to soak through and properly dye the fabric, but not so much that it drips off the fabric and runs into other colors.
How Do I Care For Acrylic Dyed Clothes?
You don’t want the colors to run after the first wash, but you need to remember that acrylic paints were not made to dye fabric. Using a textile medium does help to keep the dye in place for longer.
Leave the items to air dry fully after being dyed, and then place them in a dryer to heat-set the colors. You can then wash the items after that just as you would normally.
Washing by hand may help the color last longer, however.
The colors might begin to fade after a while, but there is not much you can do to avoid this. Make sure to wash the clothes in a cold wash to help keep the colors in place for as long as possible.
Do You Need To Use 100% Cotton?
Cotton is a great choice of material whenever you’re dyeing at home.
But the beauty of using acrylic paints to dye clothes is that you do not need to use fabric which is 100% cotton. You can use material blends such as a 60/40 cotton blend.
Whether you can dye your synthetic material will vary by its particular properties, but know that polyester is generally difficult to dye and is also hydrophobic (which makes it less than ideal for this process which uses water).
Still, you can likely dye a whole range of items with some cotton content at home. Pillowcases, sheets, t-shirts, and pants are all great options to dye with acrylic paint!
Best Acrylic Paints To Dye Clothes
Here are some of our best recommendations for acrylic paints that can double as quick home dyes:
|1.||Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set||12 long-lasting, non-toxic acrylic paints|
|2.||Sargent Art Acrylic Paint Assortment||12 matte non-toxic acrylic paint bottles (16 oz each)|
|3.||Shuttle Art Acrylic Paint Set||15 long-lasting, non-toxic acrylic paints|
The below paints are all great options to use to dye clothes, and have a wide range of colors to experiment with.
1. Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set
The Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set contains the highest quality raw materials which have been specifically chosen to create the best paints possible. The unique formula brings out brilliance and color clarity, with a buttery consistency that allows for easy mixing and blending.
The colors are long-lasting and non-toxic, containing rich pigments that are vivid and bright. The paints are fast-drying and will set well on fabric.
All the colors can be mixed together to create your own unique shades and tones to use on your own project. With the paints having a thick consistency, you really only need a little to mix with water before using to dye clothing.
There are 12 different colors included in this kit, as well as 3 paintbrushes if you wanted to try painting!
2. Sargent Art Acrylic Paint Assortment
This set contains twelve 16 oz bottles of artist quality acrylic paints, in all the colors you could want! The paints are all water-resistant once dry, which is ideal when using acrylic paints to dye shirts!
The flip-top cap on the bottles makes dispensing the paints easy, and the tight lid keeps the paints protected and in the best condition when not in use.
Being non-toxic, they are suitable to be used for the whole family. You can mix the different colors together to create your own colors, to really personalize the clothes you are dyeing! There is more than enough paint in this 12 pack to really see to all your home clothes dyeing needs!
3. Shuttle Art Acrylic Paint Set
These professional, artist-quality paints are ideal to use for dyeing clothes. They fare well when mixed with water, and can easily be watered down and placed into a squeeze or spray bottle for dying, without the ingredients separating.
These paints are fabric-friendly and work on a variety of media. Being fast-drying, you will not have to wait too long for your work to dry. The thick consistency will also makes these paints more useful in other projects; after all, you may want to use your acrylics for regular painting!
The acrylic paints come in flip-top squeeze bottles that will make it easy to apply the paint into the container you are using, and each bottle is individually sealed for the best quality. All 15 bottles come in a slim flip-lid cardboard box which is convenient to store away.
To make the paint family-friendly, it is non-toxic and safe for kids to use. There are more than enough colors to really get creative, and the whole family will enjoy making some awesome clothing with these great acrylic paints!
Does Acrylic Paint Crack When Dry on Fabric?
Acrylic paint adheres to fabric well, but it can become thick and brittle once it dries, and could crack and peel off. To avoid this, it is best to water down the acrylic paint before applying it on the fabric, and to use a fabric medium to soften it as well.
This should prevent it from drying thick and stiff, and give the material more movement when it is dry.
Are Acrylic Paints Permanent?
Acrylic paints tend to dry lightfast (making them resistant to fading) and permanent and have a strong and flexible surface. Acrylic is often a water-based paint that is quick-drying, and which does not need any toxic solvents. It can be applied to a wide range of surfaces.
To clean acrylic paints, you can simply use soap and water! They are great for beginners and for kids to use too.
Up Next: How To Dye Clothes Black With Coffee