How Can I Dye a Picnic Umbrella?

Updated March 23, 2017

Picnic or patio table umbrellas can make or break a meal on a sunny day. They offer shade and often provide a splash of colour to outdoor decor After several years, however, that splash of colour ages, leaving a worn out look to the umbrella. Dying a canvas picnic umbrella can be done inexpensively.

Remove the canvas from the umbrella frame. Machine wash the canvas, using warm water and detergent, to remove dirt. Remove the canvas from the washer after the final rinse cycle and set aside.

Choose the washing machine setting for a medium load with and select hot water. Put on rubber gloves. Add the dye to the water following the dye manufacturer's directions. Add salt to the mixture, if the dye manufacturer requires it. Agitate or stir the mixture until the dye is completely dissolved.

Put the canvas in the washing machine. Let it agitate for 30 minutes without allowing the cycle to complete, drain or add more water. Do not leave, watch the cycle closely, since this step may require stopping and resetting the cycle once or twice.

Let the washing machine complete the cycle after the 30-minute soaking period. During the rinse cycle make sure to set it to use cold water . Remove the canvas from the washing machine. Hold a section of the canvas under cold tap water. Make sure the water runs clear. If the fabric is still releasing dye, run the canvas through the cycle one more time. Remove the canvas from the machine and check again.

Clean the washing machine by running it through one complete wash cycle, using the normal amount of detergent for one load, select hot water and add one cup of chlorine bleach.

Dry the canvas in a standard dryer on low heat to avoid shrinkage. Promptly remove the canvas at the end of the cycle to prevent wrinkles. Clean the lint trap. You may air-dry the fabric, if desired.

Place the fabric back on the umbrella structure.


Heat is an important factor in successful dying. A higher dye-bath temperature increases the rate of dye absorption. The use of cold water during the dye-bath reduces the intensity of colour. If a lighter colour is desired, use less dye. If a deeper shade is desired, increase the amount of dye used. Leaving the fabric in the dye-bath for a longer period of time does not increase the depth of colour.

Things You'll Need

  • Canvas umbrella
  • Washing powder
  • Washing machine
  • Rubber gloves
  • Fabric dye
  • Salt
  • Chlorine bleach
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