How to Dye Fabric With Cold Water

Updated February 21, 2017

Most dyeing projects require the use of very hot water. But if you are dyeing a fabric that can only be washed in cold water, there is a solution: cold-water dyes. Cold-water dyes use only a little hot water -- just enough to dissolve the powdered dye -- so you can dye any fabric safely, easily and without worrying about ruining the fabric.

Wash the fabric, as usual, in cold water prior to dyeing the item. Wring out the fabric when washed, but do not dry it.

Fill a bowl with ice cold water. You will need enough water to ensure the fabric can be completely submerged.

Pour 1 packet of a powdered cold-water dye into a small bowl. Add 1 pt. of hot tap water to the dye to dissolve it. Once dissolved, add the dye water to the bowl of ice cold water.

Pour 113gr. of salt and 1 packet of a cold-dye fixative into the empty small bowl. Add about 1 cup of hot tap water to the bowl. Stir the salt solution with a stainless steel spoon to ensure the salt and fixative are properly dissolved.

Pour the salt solution into the bowl of cold-dye water.

Loosen the damp fabric, then place it into the dye water. Stir the fabric continuously for the first 10 minutes, then stir occasionally for another 50 minutes.

Rinse the fabric under cold water until all of the excess dye has been washed out. Wash the garment in the washing machine, at a cold-water setting, as usual.


The dye can stain your hands and clothing. To be safe -- and stain-free -- wear old clothing and rubber gloves when dyeing fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bowl
  • 1 packet cold-water dye powder
  • Small bowl
  • 1 pt. hot tap water
  • 113gr. salt
  • 1 packet cold-dye fixative
  • Stainless steel spoon
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About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.