Easiest Way to Dye Fabric

Updated November 21, 2016

You can change the look of a variety of fabrics just by adding a little bit of dye. Though many processes for dyeing fabrics are similar, the best method of dyeing varies by the dye and fabric you choose. Reactive dyes work best on natural plant-based fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk. Acid dyes work best on animal-fibre fabrics such as wool and cashmere. Some multipurpose dyes will work for all types of fabric; there are also certain fabrics that will not take dye at all, such as polyester, acrylic and waterproof fabrics.

Pre-wash the fabric, following the manufacturer's recommendations. Washing will pre-shrink your fabric and remove any coatings or dirt from the fabric before dyeing.

Dissolve one packet of all-purpose fabric dye in two cups of hot water and stir until all the powder is dissolved. Mix this slowly into a large pot or bucket containing three gallons of hot water. Stir until the dye is evenly mixed. If you are dyeing cotton, linen, rayon or raimie, add one cup of salt to the dye bath.

Soak your fabric in the dye bath. Stir frequently in order to soak the dye into all areas of the fabric equally.

Keep the dye bath hot, and soak the fabric until it has reached the colour you desire, up to one hour.

Rinse in warm water, gradually cooling the water until the rinsing water runs clear. Wash in cool water with detergent, and dry in a clothes dryer or hang to dry.


Double the amount of dye you use when using a dark or very bright colour. You can purchase professional reactive or acid dyes online and sometimes in craft stores, but all-purpose dye is easier to use because you can find it in a large retail store and it does not require any pH adjustments.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Fabric dye
  • Water
  • Salt
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