How to dye faded clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Clothes fade over time from the effects of oxidisation and regular washing. You can revive some of them with dye, but this is only advisable for solid-colour clothing made from natural fibres, such as wool and cotton. It is difficult to dye synthetic fabrics, and dye will ruin clothing that has patterns as well as clothing with designs that have been woven or stamped. It is also important to check the strength of your garment. Some clothing items may be too weak to withstand a second dye process.

Remove the parts of the clothing that you do not wish to dye. For instance, you may wish to remove orange, cloth-covered buttons from a black blouse. If the item has trimmings that you cannot remove, such as lace, it may be best to take it to a professional.

Fill a bucket with water according to directions on the package of dye. Hot water is usually recommended. Add the dye to the water and mix it in with a long spoon or other long tool.

Wet the fabric in water and squeeze out the excess moisture. This will make it easier to saturate the garment with dye. Shake the item out and place it into the dye solution.

Stir the fabric constantly from 10 to 30 minutes. In "New From Old: How to Transform and Customize Your Clothes," Jayne Emerson suggests lifting the item out of the solution at intervals to determine whether it has reached the desired shade. Since fabric always appears darker when wet than it does when dry, she also suggests wringing the fabric and then ironing a small area dry to determine the true shade. If it is not dark enough, replace the item in the dye and continue stirring. You may repeat this step until you are satisfied with the colour.

Take the fabric out of the solution when it is at the shade you desire and rinse in warm water. Continue to rinse in gradually cooler water until the water is clear. At this point, wash the item with warm water and detergent and rinse it in cool, clean water. Hang the garment to dry or use a dryer.


If the garment's label is missing, you can perform a test on the fabric to find out if it contains synthetic fibres, which are difficult to dye. Cut a small piece of fabric from a hidden part of the garment and burn it. If the material is made of natural fibres, it will sizzle and smell like hair. Synthetic material will melt. Check the threads on the garment also to ensure that they are not synthetic. The makers of Rit dyes recommend washing the bucket with liquid chlorine bleach or another chlorine-based product immediately after the dyeing process.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Long spoon or other long tool
  • Chlorine bleach
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About the Author

Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.