How to dye acrylic yarn

Written by michelle dunphy
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How to dye acrylic yarn
(yarn image by Liz Van Steenburgh from

Dyeing acrylic yarn can be a challenging process since it does not take colour as well as natural fibres. One of the most popular and safest ways to dye acrylic at home is to use disperse dyes. These dyes will provide you with a light to medium colour to freshen up your acrylic yarn and give it new life. You can then go on to use this yarn in your crafting projects.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Disperse dye
  • Citric acid or white vinegar
  • Synthrapol
  • Dye activator or soda ash
  • Cooking pot made of non-reactive material
  • Safety googles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Candy or meat thermometer

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  1. 1

    Prepare yarn by machine washing in hot water (at least 60 degrees C). You can also wash the yarn in a pot on the stove with dye activator or soda ash and synthrapol in the amount recommended by the additive's packaging. Rinse thoroughly.

  2. 2

    Dissolve the dye in boiling water, per instructions provided by the makers of your chosen dye.

  3. 3

    Let the mixture cool to room temperature and stir well again. Strain dye through old nylon socks or cheesecloth to avoid getting large chunks in the dye mixture.

  4. 4

    Prepare the dye bath according to the dye manufacturer's instructions. This will likely entail measuring out warm water into a non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel or enamel. Add the vinegar or synthrapol and citric acid, stirring until well-mixed.

  5. 5

    Add your yarn to the pot. Slowly increase heat to a boil while stirring yarn. This step should take approximately 30 minutes.

  6. 6

    Once the temperature is steady, continue to stir gently for an additional 40 minutes or longer, depending on the depth of shade you desire.

  7. 7

    Remove the yarn from the bath and allow the yarn to cool to 65.6 degrees C. Once the yarn is cool, rinse thoroughly and allow the yarn to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • When rinsing the yarn, use water that is cool, but not cold. If the water is too cold, you can damage or break the yarn.
  • Anything touched by the dye or chemicals can become damaged. Wear protective clothing and prepare the area in which you are dyeing the yarn to prevent damage.

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