If you have freshly dyed some clothes or bought a new pair of denim jeans, you might be worried that the indigo dye will run or rub off and ruin the rest of your clothes.
This process of dye being removed from fabric by rubbing or running is known as crocking in the textile industry. No matter the name, it is definitely something that you would not want to happen! The only way to prevent crocking is to set the indigo dye in the fabric.
How do you set indigo dye in fabric? To set indigo dye in fabric, you need to place the fabric in a cold wash in the washing machine and add in some vinegar halfway through. The fabric needs to soak in the vinegar for a while before the rinse cycle is completed.
Following these steps will ensure that the indigo dye will be set in the fabric and that there is little chance of it running or rubbing off!
Step By Step Guide for Setting Indigo Fabric
Setting indigo dye in the fabric is fairly simple if you follow the steps below. The process takes a couple of hours, including drying. But once it’s done, the indigo dye should be properly set. You will be able to wear your clothes without worrying about the dye rubbing off on other clothes and furniture!
Step 1 – Fill up the washing machine with cold water and add in a cap of liquid laundry detergent. Make sure it is a delicate detergent and does not contain any harsh chemicals. This one is my favorite.
Place the indigo fabric into the washing machine when it is around half full with cold water. Switch it to run on the wash cycle, but stop the machine just before the rinse cycle starts.
Step 2 – Open the machine and add in 2 cups of white vinegar to the cold rinse water. Do not switch the machine on to finish the rinse cycle. Instead, leave the fabric to soak in the vinegar water for a minimum of 2 hours.
Step 3 – Once the fabric has been left to sit in the vinegar water for at least 2 hours, turn the washing machine back on and let it complete the rinse cycle.
Step 4 – When the rinse cycle has completed, remove the fabric from the machine and drape it over a clothesline to let it air-dry.
Step 5 – Check the hottest recommended setting for the fabric and set a steam iron to this heat level. Press the fabric all over with the steam iron. The heat and the steam from the iron will help to set the indigo dye further.
While this is a lengthy process, it is really recommended. It ensures that no rubbing, running, or staining happens as a result of unset indigo dye. All the steps are fairly easy to do and they use household items that you would use when washing your clothes normally.
How To Keep Indigo Dye From Bleeding
There are a few ways to control indigo dye from bleeding and to prevent color loss. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Use low temperature – Exposure to hot water when washing can cause the mordant to be washed out of the fabric. When the mordant is washed out, it will no longer hold the dye firmly to the fibers. This is when the dye runs. Use the lowest possible water temperature to wash dyed clothes.
Create a gentle washing environment – If the washing machine is overcrowded, if you use harsh detergents, and if you wash the clothes in hard water, the fabric could experience micro-breakage. This will lead to the dye releasing, and therefore, bleeding.
Avoid overexposure – Do not overuse bleaching products, expose the fabric to too much sun, or to excessive heat. These could cause the fabric to fade and to release the dye.
Wash first – If you want to wear an item of clothing but you think the color might rub off of it, wash the item separately first to remove any loose dyes.
You can also run a section of the material under both warm and cool water to test colorfastness. If the color bleeds under warm water only, don’t wash it more than necessary, as some dyes are weak and will just fade with time. Only wash these items on cool.
How To Wash Clothes To Prevent Indigo Dye From Bleeding
If you want to further protect your other clothes from being stained from indigo dye bleeding, there are some regular laundry tips that you can follow.
These will help you guard against indigo bleeding. Not only will this protect other clothes in the wash, but it will prevent the indigo dye from fading.
Follow these tips when washing laundry to protect against the indigo dye bleeding:
- Test the indigo garment before washing it with other clothes. Place a damp cloth or tissue onto the fabric and see if it lifts any color off. If yes, then the dye will bleed when washed.
- If you are nervous about the dye bleeding, it is safer to wash it separately to other clothes. This is especially important for clothes that have bled color previously.
- Wash indigo-colored clothes, such as jeans, with similarly colored clothing. This way, if the dye does run, it won’t affect the other items of clothing too much.
- Don’t rely on color catcher cloths and detergents that promise to trap bleeding dye. There is a good chance your other clothes will still come out of the wash with a blue color, and those stains can take ages to come off, if they ever do.
- Make an effort to sort your clothes carefully into the correct color groups before loading the clothes into the washing machine.
- Use cold water to wash clothes that might bleed, as this will help to protect the colors and allow them to last longer. Better safe than sorry!
Why Does Indigo Dye Bleed?
Some dyes have a tendency to bleed more than others, and indigo dye is notorious for bleeding. There are three different ways that fabric can lose dye, and understanding these might help you to prevent any loss of color.
Here are some of the reasons indigo-dyed color fabric can bleed:
- Fabrics can lose color from crocking, which happens when the color is transferred when the fabric rubs against another fabric or surface. This happens because the dye was not properly set into the fabric.
- If the fabric gets wet, the dye can leach out into the water. This is what happens when you wash colored clothes together, and some of the dye bleeds and stains other lighter colored clothing.
- While not necessarily bleeding, an indigo dye can fade if left exposed to light, especially ultraviolet rays, for too long.
- The incorrect dying techniques were used when the clothing was manufactured.
- The incorrect dye was used for the type of fabric it was applied to – not all dyes are made to work on all types of fabric.
- A fixative or mordant was not used during manufacturing to bind the dye to the fabric, which then leads to color bleeding.
- The dye was not rinsed out properly, so there is an excess of loose dye on the fabric.
The best way to prevent against color loss, bleeding, and staining is to ensure that you set the dye in a washer using cold water and vinegar, that you do not expose it to high temperatures, and that you keep it out of sunlight.
However, some dyes just are not good quality, and fading is fairly inevitable over time, but you do just need to make sure that the dye sets, to prevent it from staining other items of clothing.
Is Indigo More Blue or Purple?
Indigo is typically considered more blue than purple, just looking at it visually. Because it has less red than purple, it can “feel” bluer. But on the color wheel, indigo sits between blue and violet. It will probably come down what hues are combined to make a particular shade of indigo.
How Long Does it Take to Dye Fabric?
For lighter shades, you should leave the fabric to sit for up to 20 minutes. For darker dyes and for 100% polyester and polyester blends, the fabric should sit in the dye for at least 30 minutes.
This is the right amount of time for the fabric to absorb the dye. In general, you should probably leave the fabric to sit in the dye for 30 minutes or longer, even if it looks like it has reached the desired shade beforehand.
Can I Leave Fabric in Dye Overnight?
While you should follow the instructions of the fabric dye you are using, you can really leave the fabric in the dye for as long or as short as you like. The difference is the depth of the color the fabric will take once it has dried.
Remember that the color will look darker when wet, so plan for it to be lighter when it is washed and dried.
Setting Indigo Dye With No Bleeding
It is fairly simple to set indigo dye at home with a few household items. You just need a washing machine, some white vinegar, and a steam iron to ensure that the indigo dye sets and does not rub off or bleed when worn or washed.
Not only will setting the indigo dye help to prevent staining of other clothes and surfaces, but it will prevent the color from fading too quickly on the clothes, keeping the deep indigo hue for longer!
Here’s a fun tutorial by Onyx Art Studios on how to dip-dye fabric in indigo to get an ombre effect!