Fabric Dyes to Reinvent Your Wardrobe

Give your old clothes a brand-new look.

Woman with raised arms in front of a neon green brick wall
Add a punch of color to your closet!Pexels/rethaferguson

It’s possible to give your closet a makeover without going on an expensive shopping spree. The only thing you need to buy are a couple bottles of fabric dye to change up color combos and make faded ones pop again. If you’re a clotheshorse, there are probably as many different types of dye as you have pairs of shoes, so to narrow them down, make a list of the fabrics you’ll be sprucing up. Then decide how vibrant you want the new shades to be and what dyeing method you’ll be using. With this information in mind, you can choose the right product for your needs and transform your wardrobe.

TULIP Gray, One-Color Permanent Fabric Dye
This one works with both cellulose and protein fibers, so you can use one packet on a variety of color jobs.TULIP

Fiber reactive dyes offer the best color vibrancy and permanency and work well with cellulose (plant-based) fibers like cotton, linen, rayon and viscose. A slight downside is that they require a longer dyeing time. Acid dyes complement protein (or animal-based) fibers like silk, wool, cashmere and fur. They require very hot temperatures to work properly, compared to the more lukewarm temps needed for fiber reactive dyes.

Rit DyeMore Liquid Dye, Graphite
This one is perfect for items with 35 percent or more polyester, acrylic, acetate or nylon.Rit

Union dyes offer less brilliant hues and decreased colorfastness—meaning they fade a little faster—but they work with both cellulose and protein fibers. Disperse dyes are good for synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon.

Rit, Royal Blue Purpose Powder Dye
One box is enough for three yards of mid-weight fabric.Rit

If dyeing in the washer leaves staining, you can remove it by adding bleach to an empty hot-wash cycle. A popular alternative to washer dyeing is stove-top dyeing, which requires only dye, a stainless steel or enamel pot and enough water for your fabric to be submerged in it. The recommended amount is three gallons of water for every pound of fabric. A sink or bucket are also popular options, as is the bathtub—as long as it’s not made of porcelain or fiberglass, both of which can permanently stain.

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