You can easily dye natural fabrics. And it’s fun. But can you dye polyester fabric?
Yes, you can dye polyester, but you need to use disperse dyes and hot water that is heated up to 200 to 266℉. Disperse dyes are specially designed for dyeing polyester and other synthetic materials like nylon.
Also, keep in mind that disperse dyes don’t work well on natural fabrics. So, use this type of dye for dying only synthetic fabrics.
Different types of fabrics are made with a particular combination of elements and mechanisms. Therefore, the dyeing method is not the same for every fabric. Plus, the dyeing process is quite tricky for polyester.
However, this guide is designed to offer you some handy information to bring new life to your old polyester clothes.
Table of Contents
- Which Fabric Do You Suspect Will Be the Most Difficult to Dye?
- Can You Dye Polyester Fabric: 100% Polyester?
- Dyeing Polyester: Different Ways
- How to Dye Polyester with Rit Step by Step
- How to Dye Polyester with Dylon Step by Step
- How to Dye Polyester with Food Coloring Step By Step
- How to Dye Polyester Fabric (Synthetic Fabric) with Acrylic Paint Step by Step
- Dyeing Polyester with Coffee Step By Step
- Dye Polyester in Washing Machine Step By Step
- Can You Tie Dye Polyester?
- How to Tie Dye Polyester Step By Step
Which Fabric Do You Suspect Will Be the Most Difficult to Dye?
The fabrics we see are not all equally produced. Cotton and linen come from natural fibers. Their inner composition allows water to enter into the elements easily.
When dyeing these fabrics, the color sets in the fibers efficiently and you achieve your desired results. You can try a cotton shirt and check the dyeing performance quickly.
But it doesn’t happen for polyester fabric. Polyester contains two vital elements including crude oil and a special type of plastic previously converted into flexible and light fibers.
Another significant feature of polyester is its hydrophobic quality which prevents water from entering into the fibers. All these things make it relatively a more difficult process to dye polyester than other fabrics.
Can You Dye Polyester Fabric: 100% Polyester?
There are obvious differences between polyester blends and 100% polyester. Polyester blend indicates that other fibers are added to the polyester and the blend loses some qualities of pure polyester. Therefore, it can hold moisture and carry aqueous fluids. Consequently, dyeing polyester blend is much easier than pure polyester.
On the other hand, 100% polyester doesn’t contain a significant amount of moisture and carry fluids. The oleophilic and hydrophobic nature make fluid transporting behavior very weak. So, it becomes difficult to dye polyester clothes but it’s not impossible. Some of the methods explained below can work well for dyeing 100% pure polyester.
Dyeing Polyester: Different Ways
Dyeing polyester seems difficult but it’s possible. Following some tricky methods, you can do it. Using food coloring, acrylic paint, coffee, Rit, and Dylon (special dyeing products for polyester), you can dye your polyester fabrics.
Check what you’re dyeing if that is a polyester blend or 100% pure polyester. Depending on your fabric type, you will need to pick the right method.
How to Dye Polyester with Rit Step by Step
Regular Rit dye will not work on polyester. Pick Rit DyeMore, a specially designed disperse dye for polyester fabric.
First, you need to weigh your garment using a kitchen scale to get an idea about the amount of dye you will need. It’s because one Rit DyeMore package is enough for 2 pounds of dry fabric.
Now wash your selected garment with soap and warm water and don’t use any fabric softeners. This is to remove the finishes which can hamper dye absorption. Damp clothes are better for dyeing, so drying them is not necessary.
Put on your gloves. To avoid splattering, cover the areas around your stove using a plastic sheet. Paper sheets will do as well.
Take a large pot that is capable of containing 11.36 liters or 3 gallons of water. Also, make sure it still has enough room for your garment and some extra space so that it doesn’t overflow while stirring.
Pour the water and heat it at 180 degrees Fahrenheit or a little bit more. Now shake the dye bottle and pour the amount of dye depending on the weight of your garment. Add 1 teaspoon of dish wash liquid and start stirring.
Make a color test using a paper towel strip. If you want it to be darker use more dye and for lighter add more water.
Now, put the garment in the pot and keep stirring for about ten minutes. After that, let it rest for 30 minutes or a little bit more.
Now, take the garment out of the pot. Use warm water to rinse it and gradually decrease the temperature of the water and rinse under it until clear running water is visible.
Hand-wash the garment using warm water and soap. Finally, air-dry it for the best dyeing results.
How to Dye Polyester with Dylon Step by Step
Dylon doesn’t offers disperse dyes. Therefore, you can’t use it on 100% polyester. A polyester blend that contains up to 50% polyester can only be dyed with Dylon.
First, use a kitchen scale to weigh your garment to get an idea about the number of Dylon sachets you need to buy. One sachet of Dylon Hand Fabric can dye 250-grams of clothes to full shade.
Now, wash your garment using soapy water. No need to dry it, keep it damp because it’s essential for dyeing.
Take a bowl or a pot and fill it with water while maintaining a ratio of water: 2 ¼ cups and table salt: 5 tablespoons per sachet.
Keep stirring the dye until it completely dissolves.
Now, put the garment in the bowl. Submerge it and stir it using a metal spoon for a total of 60 minutes; 15 minutes of continuous stirring and then 45 minutes of periodical stirring.
After wearing gloves remove the garment from the dye bath. Now, rinse it using cold water, keep doing it until you see clear water running.
Wash the garment using warm water or put it in a warm wash cycle in your washing machine. Finally, air-dry the item.
How to Dye Polyester with Food Coloring Step By Step
As you know polyester can’t absorb water-soluble colorants, thus food coloring will not be a long-lasting way to dye polyester. You can use food coloring as a temporary dye for any of the polyester blends.
Select your fabric for dyeing. Pick a polyester blend for this method. Otherwise, your newly dyed pure polyester will lose its color soon after coming in contact with water or any liquid.
Gather all the supplies such as water, a big bowl, your garment, food colors, and white vinegar. Lay down a sheet over your work table to protect it from splattering.
Pour a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water into the bowl and create a mixture. For precise measurement, add 8 ounces of water and vinegar using a measuring cup. Place the fabric in it.
Now, soak the garment properly in the mixture. After 30 minutes, remove the garment and squeeze it gently.
Next, depending on your cloth, take some food colors; about 10 to 15 drops, and mix them in a bowl with water; about 700 to 950 ml. Finally, put the squeezed-out garment into the bowl.
You can experiment with your clothes by adding two or more colors to achieve new colors.
Make sure your garment is completely submerged in the water. Keep stirring it every couple of minutes using a big spoon or you can do it manually with gloves on. Finally, you will see the water turning clearer after sometimes like 10 to 20 minutes. It’s indicating the garment is absorbing the dye.
After soaking properly, take out the garment from the mixture and squeeze it. Then, put it inside a resealable plastic bag for 8 hours or more to achieve a vibrant color.
Read Next: How to Transfer image onto fabric
How to Dye Polyester Fabric (Synthetic Fabric) with Acrylic Paint Step by Step
Acrylic paint is a better option than other paints to dye any synthetic fabrics like polyester. One thing that should be considered carefully is you need to take acrylic paint that is free from any solvents. Chemical solvents can damage fabric properties.
Most acrylic paints are water-based. Therefore, these paints can ideally dye polyester fabric than oil-based and fabric paints. Choose an acrylic paint that you prefer.
Making the fabric dirt-free is vital. Clean the polyester fabric that you also did in other methods. Dirt and dust on the fabric will cause peeling off the paint very soon after finish dyeing.
Make sure to add fabric medium to the acrylic paint. It helps to thin the paint and prevents cracking during the drying time.
Soak the fabric in the thinned acrylic paint. Wait and bring that out while you see the paint is absorbed properly. Let the fabric dry.
Dry it until you feel an accurate finish while touching. One point is worth mentioning that you can also find acrylic markers. These markers are great for detailed works on polyester fabric.
Dyeing Polyester with Coffee Step By Step
Natural colors don’t work well on synthetic fabrics. Many people try to dye polyester fabric with coffee but they fail. It’s because polyester can’t absorb coffee rightly. However, sometimes they achieve brown shade or tan which is very temporary.
Take some water in a pot. Place black coffee in the water and boil the water for 60 minutes or more.
Pick white polyester fabric (avoid other colors) to dye with coffee. Place the fabric in the boiled water. Wait for 1 hour and you will see a slight brown shade.
Dry the fabric. Use this polyester occasionally. Normally, the brown shade can come out during the fast wash.
Dye Polyester in Washing Machine Step By Step
You already know that dyeing polyester fabrics require high temperature. In the washing machine, it’s not possible. There are some specially created machine dyes that you can use for this purpose.
Weigh your garment when it’s dry. 1 pack of Dylon Machine Dye can dye 600g of clothes. If your clothes weigh more than that, make separate batches.
Wet the garment and make sure it’s clean. Place the damp garment in the washing machine. Unwrap the Machine Dye pod, open the lid, and put it on top of the garment.
Run the garment through one full cycle. The temperature needs to be 30 to 40 degrees Celsius.
Now, run a cycle once again with regular detergent, the temperature will remain the same. After finishing the cycle, take out the garment and run an empty cycle with detergent to clean the machine.
Use a drying rack and air dry the garment. Don’t put it under direct sunlight and make sure to shake the folds to get a fine, even color.
Can You Tie Dye Polyester?
You can experience the same problem as dyeing polyester. Tie-dyeing is not that easy and you have to a special technique. Natural fabrics easily absorb fabric dye. So, tie-dyeing the rayon and cotton is much easier.
On the contrary, polyester has a very lower moisture absorption capacity. When using dye on polyester, it generates a subdued hue which is not the color you expect. However, there are a few specific methods to tie-dye polyester items.
How to Tie Dye Polyester Step By Step
Polyester blends provide a better result than pure polyester while tie-dyeing. Also, there are particular dyes manufactured for tie-dyeing such as Rit DyeMore, iDye Poly, and KraftKolour.
You can tie-dye your fabrics but using the right dyes is important. For man-made fabrics, you should use disperse dyes. These dyes come with limited solubility and nonionic nature. A special chemical bonding allows atoms of these dyes to stay close together. However, the first step is selecting a dispersed dye for your polyester fabric.
Clean the fabric properly. Remove any type of dirt and oil. If there is any dust on the fabric, it will prevent absorption of the color. So, clean the fabric first and then dye it.
To ensure the right color absorption, polyester fabric requires a higher temperature. So, boil the water. Add the necessary amount of dispersing tie-dye. Try to add a color intensifier as it will help the dye entering into the fabric.
Now, get the polyester ready for the desired tie-dyeing. Tie each area with a rubber band or string where you don’t want to paint. Immerse the polyester fabric in the mixture.
After you notice the dye is absorbed entirely by the fabric, bring that out and wrap it in plastic. Keep that for four hours at a room temperature above 70 degrees. For a darker hue, you can extend the storing period.
Untie the fabric when the dye is cured. Rinse it in slightly warm water. Then wash thoroughly in hot water. Use a pH-neutral strength detergent like Synthrapol that will help to eliminate unwanted dye from the polyester.
You can turn any difficult thing into a fun process. Keep this guide close to your hand and you can dye your polyester fabric without experiencing lots of odd things.
Always make sure to pick disperse dyes for polyester as other dyes don’t work well on synthetic fabrics. Also, take precautions when needed to avoid any unwanted things happening.