Whether you are planning to design your own tee or just want to darken a light fabric, you can do it by using a quality fabric dye.
A black dye will render a vibrant color to your fabric and will make it look like a brand new one once again. In fact, a great way to revive a pair of faded jeans or your favorite tee is by dyeing it a sleek, smooth black.
But how do you dye fabric black? To dye fabric black, you need a high-quality fabric dye. Pre-formulated, dark-staining options will help to achieve a strong color. You can dye fabric at home using the washing machine, the stove, or a bucket. You will need hot water and likely salt for the process.
Dyeing is not a complicated process. You just need to follow a simple process for accomplishing the task. If you are keen on learning how to dye your fabric black (or any color), we have some steps you can follow below.
How To Dye Fabric (Black or Otherwise)
This step-by-step procedure will help you revive an old favorite tee of yours and will also help you create new designs over a black dyed fabric surface.
Step 1: Choose Your Fabric
Not all fabrics are the same. Some take dyes more readily than others. For instance, cotton fabric is extremely easy to dye. Rayon and nylon fabrics are porous and also take dye well; they also don’t shrink after getting wet.
Silk fabrics take dye well but they will also lose their luster in the process; they also tend to shrink. Linen fabric also dyes well but shrinks a little in the process.
Acetate and polyester fabrics, however, are quite difficult to dye. This is because they require treatment above the boiling point of 280 degrees. It is difficult to achieve intense bright colors on these fibers. You may be better off leaving those to the professionals!
Make sure to choose the fabric appropriately for the purpose else you will have a hard time dyeing the fabric. Check if the fabric is water-resistant or water-repellant. If the fabric repels water, then you will not be able to dye it with the methods we discuss below.
Step 2: Wash Your Fabric First
Once you have picked a suitable fabric for your task, then be sure to wash it before the dyeing process.
There is no need to use any detergent, however. You can simply wash it with warm water. This will help you cross-check if it reacts to water or not if you have never used the fabric before.
Let the garment dry before proceeding.
Step 3: Choose Your Dye
There are two primary ways to proceed at this point: You can either prepare the dye for the fabric yourself by using natural ingredients or you can choose a professional-grade, pre-formulated fabric dye.
For the best results, you can go ahead with a pre-formulated dye. This is because developing an intense stain at home can be a difficult task especially if you have never done it before. You can rely on a non-toxic dye to achieve effective and consistent results.
Read the instructions carefully followed by the manufacturer on the packaging, as they may suggest a particular dyeing method or offer tips for a better result.
Step 4: Choose a Dyeing Process
There are three different ways in which you can dye a fabric easily at home. We’ve included instructions for each so you can try them all out with different pieces, or simply have all you need in one convenient post!
Washing Machine Method
- Wet the fabric or the cloth (or simply don’t worry about your washed fabric drying all the way) and place it in a washing machine.
- Mix dye with hot water and stir it well. If you are dyeing a natural fabric such as linen or cotton, then you should dissolve a cup of salt for every four cups of hot water – OR if you are dyeing nylon or silk, mix white vinegar with two to four cups of hot water. Add a teaspoon of dish detergent to the container.
- Pour the dye into the detergent dispenser of your washing machine. Then pour either your salt solution OR your white vinegar solution.
- Flush the dispenser thoroughly with hot water. If you don’t follow this, then you might end up staining your other clothes as well. Now or later, be sure to clean the detergent dispenser in which you poured the dye thoroughly.
- Wash the fabric at a high temperature for about 30 minutes.
Note: Be sure to “flush” or rinse your washing machine when using this method. For machines with detergent dispensers, you can flush the dispenser with hot water at the beginning of the process (as we described).
For top loaders, you may want to run the machine for a short cycle with no clothes inside to be sure there won’t be any dye left when you go to do your next load of laundry. If you’re still worried, make sure your next load has dark materials or things you don’t mind dyeing by accident like old sheets and towels.
- Fill a pot with water so that you can move around your fabric or cloth easily in it. Heat the water just below its boiling point.
- Once the water begins to simmer, add the dye solution or powder into it. Mix it well.
- Add your fabric to the dye solution. Let the water continue to simmer. Stir it slowly.
- Pay special attention to the first ten minutes. This is the crucial part. You need to leave the fabric in the dye water for at least an hour. You can leave the fabric a little longer in the dye solution in order to reach the desired depth of shade.
- Remove excess dye from the fabric and let it dry. (We have more on when and how to remove excess dye in steps 5 and 6 below.)
Follow the instructions provided by the dye manufacturers appropriately, as they may make specific suggestions to get the best results.
3. Bucket Method
- Fill a bucket with hot water.
- Mix the dye in the hot water for creating a dyebath. Test the color of the dye on a paper towel. Add more dye if you desire a deeper stain.
- Wet the garment you want to dye before adding it to the dye bath.
- Stir the fabric slowly but in a continuous way for the initial ten minutes. Continuous stirring will help you dye any weird splotches.
- Keep the fabric in the dye bath for about thirty minutes or until you have attained the desired consistency. Remove the fabric and squeeze out excess dye. (See steps 5 and 6 for more information.)
Use a large bucket for the process. The container has to be large enough to hold both the dye bath as well as the fabric. Make sure that the fabric is submerged in the bath completely. Using boiling water will offer you the best results possible. You can use a spoon or other cooking utensils to protect your hands.
Always read the label for the manufacturer’s instructions. The more dye you use, the darker the shade of your fabric is going to be. If you want to dye your t-shirt with a more intense, stronger shade of black, then make sure to add more dye in the dye bath.
For a more vibrant color, you can add table salt to the dye bath. Make sure you stir well. This will render a vibrant shade to the fabric that you are dyeing. The rule of thumb is that for every 3 pounds of fabric, you will want to use 1.5 cups of salt. (It may be a good idea to dye several things at once to make use of all that salt.)
Check out this video by OnlineFabricStore.net for an immersion method tutorial for dying clothes black.
Step 5: Use a Dye Fixative Before Rinsing Fabric (Optional)
If you want to enhance the color of the fabric that you are dyeing, then you can consider using quality dye fixatives for the purpose.
A fixative will adhere to the fabric fiber so that the final color of the cloth or the fabric would appear more vibrant and appealing. You can also spray it over the entire fabric depending on your preferences.
A heavy coating will keep the dyed fabric vibrant looking for long. If you are using a fixative solution, then make sure to soak the fabric in the fixative for at least 20 minutes or more.
Step 6: Rinse Off Excess Dye From Fabric
Once the dyeing (and fixing) process is complete, wash the fabric thoroughly.
Rinse the fabric in a bathtub or large sink and rub off the excess dye. Rinse the fabric under cold water until the water runs clear.
If you don’t follow this, then you will end up transferring leftover dye from the fabric to other clothes you are washing it with. You don’t want to ruin your clothes, right? You can also wash the fabric in a washing machine if you don’t want to do this manually.
Step 7: Dry Your Dyed Fabric
Wring out excess water from the fabric that you have colored. Hang it dry or put it in a dryer. It is only upon drying that you will be able to identify the exact shade that has been imparted to the fabric in the process.
Dyed materials tend to look just a bit darker and more saturated while wet, so don’t despair if you think you’ve overdone it!
You can repeat the process if you are not satisfied with the results. However, you can really only darken the shade. Lightening it will be pretty much impossible, but you could try over-rinsing the fabric to see if more will come out.
Dyeing a piece of fabric is pretty easy if you are aware of all the steps involved in the process. Choosing the right fabric and using an appropriate dye for the purpose will help you accomplish the task easily.
Dyeing can be done in numerous ways. Adding salt to the dye bath will make the color on the fabric more vibrant. Use a fixative to prevent fading. Wash the dyed fabric with cold water once the dyeing process is complete. Wring out excess water and let the fabric dry.
And voila! A beautiful dyed fabric!