How to Dye Cotton Curtains

Updated November 21, 2016

If you want your curtains to better coordinate with your decor, there is a budget-friendly alternative to buying a whole new set of curtains. Instead, you can use your washing machine to dye your cotton curtains with an inexpensive fabric dye. If you do not have access to a washer or you are nervous about using your washer for this project, you could dye your curtains in a tub with just a little more effort.

Check for any stains or dirt before beginning your dyeing process. If possible, use a stain remover to lift any discolourations. Depending on how dark you dye your curtains, these stains might still be visible once you have dried your curtains.

Place your curtains in your washing machine, and wash without dye or detergent for several minutes. Your curtains need to be completely wet before dyeing. The dye will not properly adhere to dry cotton; instead, it will only attach to some areas, creating a messy, spotted effect. Drain your water.

Remove your curtains from the washer. Start your washer again, and let the hot water fill. Pour in your liquid dye. Due to the size of your curtains, you will most likely need to pour in several bottles of dye. Close the lid of your washer, and let the extended cycle run through.

Rinse your curtains in a cold water rinse in your washing machine before transferring to your dryer. Once your curtains are completely dry, remove them from the dryer and steam or iron as necessary.

Check for any stains or dirt, and clean as needed. Dunk your curtains in a tub of water, and wet thoroughly before removing.

Fill your tub with hot water, and combine your bottles of dye. Again, you may need to use several bottles of liquid dye. Read the packaging instructions for a fabric weight-to-dye required ratio.

Immerse your cotton curtains in the tub. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 10 to 30 minutes or until your curtains are equally covered.

Pour out your water, and rinse with cool water until it runs clear. Line or machine dry. Iron or steam as necessary to remove any wrinkles before hanging.

Repeat the dyeing process as needed to attain the level of saturation you want. Some darker colours, like blues, reds or blacks, may require several attempts to reach the depth of colour you would like.


If you use your washing machine to dye your curtains, run it through a cycle with detergent before using your washing machine on other garments.

Things You'll Need

  • Machine washer and dryer
  • Liquid fabric dye
  • Large tub
  • Wooden spoon
  • Iron or steamer
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.