How to Fix Uneven Fabric Dye From Washing

Written by kallie johnson
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Washing bleeding fabrics can make the dye job look uneven, or the fabric look faded in certain areas. Unfortunately, there's no way to know whether a fabric is going to bleed until it's laundered. Once you notice the uneven fabric, you can use lemon juice, vinegar or a dye fixative to attempt to even out the fabric by removing excess dye. Depending on the type of fabric and dye, this may or may not work and could possibly leave the fabric looking faded. If the vinegar, lemon juice or dye fixative does not work, or you are not satisfied with the results, you will need to redye the fabric.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bucket
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Dye fixative
  • Fabric dye
  • Soda ash
  • Salt

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    Vinegar or Lemon Juice

  1. 1

    Fill a bucket that's large enough to submerge the fabric with three parts warm water and one part vinegar or lemon juice.

  2. 2

    Submerge the fabric in the water mixture. Allow it to soak overnight. Vinegar and lemon juice both remove excess dye from fabric, while sealing in the remaining dye. This can help fix uneven dyes.

  3. 3

    Rinse the fabric under cool, running water. Launder the fabric following the manufacturer's care instructions.

    Dye Fixative

  1. 1

    Place the fabric in the washing machine, using the hottest water that the fabric can withstand. Add 1 teaspoon of a dye fixative. Do not add any soap, fabric softeners or other clothing to the wash cycle.

  2. 2

    Begin the wash cycle. The dye fixative works into the dye, removing excess dye. Remove the fabric once the wash cycle is complete. Repeat the process until the fabric dye is even.

  3. 3

    Wash and dry the fabric following the manufacturer's care recommendations.

    Redye the Fabric

  1. 1

    Fill a large bucket or tub with water and a product that works to set fabric dyes, such as soda ash. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for diluting the product.

  2. 2

    Submerge the fabric in the solution. Allow it to soak overnight. This treats the fabric and prepares it to evenly and effectively absorb fabric dye. Wring out the fabric.

  3. 3

    Prepare your dye mixture. This process will vary widely, based on the type of dye you are using. Once the dye is prepared, place the dampened, pretreated fabric in the dye. Allow the dye to soak for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. Do not remove the fabric from the dye early, as this can prevent the dye from fully working into the fabric, leading to uneven dying.

  4. 4

    Wash the fabric in a washing machine, adding in a colour-safe washing powder and 1/2 cup of salt. Salt seals in the fabric dye and help prevent it from fading or bleeding.

Tips and warnings

  • Washing your coloured or dyed clothing in cold water with a washing powder recommended for coloured clothing can help prevent fabric dyes from bleeding.

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