Have you ever tried to remove a tough stain with bleach and in return, you end up removing a layer of dye from the fabric's surface? We've all been there... The reality is, there's really no way to actually remove bleach stains. Once the damage is done, you can either turn the damaged clothing item into strictly-for-inside-the-house wear or toss it in the trash all together.
Removing damage caused by bleach is impossible because a bleach stain is in itself a form of permanent removal and discoloration of fabric dye. While bleach works wonders as a stain removal technique on white items that are not visually affected by brightening agents, using it even on slightly off-white clothing can visibly stain it permanently.
If you've ever been the culprit of accidentally ruining your favorite clothing items with bleach, you are not alone. There is however, a way you can undo the damage. The solution? Dyeing the entire garment a different color.
If you follow the dyeing directions accordingly, it is actually quite simple (and fun!) to do. The item in question will of course, never look the same again but you might actually like the new result even better! Plus, it can be quite rewarding to know that you can fix something that is often deemed unfix-able. Do we even have to mention that you get to play fashion designer for a day an decide what color the new clothing item should be? Getting to make that executive decision can feel like quite an accomplishment in itself.
The process of dyeing fabric varies and depends mostly on the type of fiber the clothing item consists of. Generally, natural fibers are much easier to dye than synthetics due to their more absorbent, color retention properties. For that reason, fabrics like cotton, linen, silk and wool require a shorter dying time and simpler dying process. On the other hand, synthetic fibers like polyester and acrylic for example, require more concentrated specialty dyes and a more extensive dying time and/or process.
It is very important that before you buy the fabric dye (which should be available at your local fabric or craft stores) you note the damaged garment's fabric. With this information in hand, choosing the correct fabric dye and achieving the best results in the dyeing process should be quite easy.
Always read the label before making the final purchase- It has valuable information such as fabric compatibility information and the step-by-step process associating with dyeing temperature and preparation. Keep in mind that when it comes to dyeing clothing, fabric content is one of the most important elements to consider- the quality of the final color will depend greatly on it even if all the proper steps are followed as noted on the label.
Depending on the type of fabric and the type of dye being used, the process may involve dyeing the garment in a simmering pot over the stove (as you'll see below) or directly in the washing machine. It is a good idea to read the package instructions to ensure you choose the best fabric dye with your in-home capabilities.
In the tutorial below, we'll walk you through the steps necessary for dying an acrylic sweater damaged by bleach. As mentioned above, acrylic is one of the synthetic fibers that is not compatible with all fabric dyes. To dye synthetics you'll need a fabric dye able to permeate its less absorbent fibers and easily adhere to them for a high-quality, permanent finish. In this tutorial, we are using Rit Dye More-Synthetics as it is the most readily available and affordable option on the market.
As you'll see in the steps to follow, dyeing synthetic items involves a longer time submerged in a stainless steel pot of simmering water over the stove. Synthetics cannot be permanently dyed in the washing machine as is the case for highly absorbent natural fibers.
Keep in mind that some permanent fabric dyes my require slightly different applications. For best results, it is always good practice to read and follow the label on the bottle as accurately as possible.
How To Dye Clothing At Home: Step-by-Step Guide With Pictures
Before getting started, make sure you clean all removable stains from the clothing item being dyed as this can affect the coloration of the dye on these localized areas of the garment.
Step 1: Use a stainless steel pot that offers enough room for the garment to move freely during the dying process.
Fill it up with water, allowing enough room at the top to prevent the water from spilling over in the dying process.
Step 2: Heat up the water over the stove until it reaches the temperature right before the boiling point.
You will have to maintain this temperature throughout the dying process.
Step 4: Wet the clothing item being dyed. For this particular dye, the garment has to be thoroughly wet before it hits the dye bath. The easiest way to do this is in the sink over a running faucet.
Step 5: When the water reaches the stage before boiling, add the dye. Make sure you shake the bottle well before pouring. Use the whole bottle. If you are dyeing a clothing item that is darker in color, use 2 bottles of dye for best results.
Stir the dye in the hot water with a pair of tongs. Use latex or rubber gloves to keep your hands clean and protected in the steps to follow.
As mentioned above, you have to maintain the water at the stage before it reaches the boiling point throughout the dying process. To do this, turn the temperature down as necessary so that the water doesn't start to boil as it heats up more.
Before inserting the garment in the dye bath, test the color using a piece of paper or paper towel.
Step 6: Insert the clothing item in the simmering dye bath and stir it continuously with the tongs.
For this particular dye (designed for synthetic fabrics that are more difficult to dye) 30-60 minutes is enough to do the job. The instructions on the bottle suggest not going over 60 minutes. Keep in mind that some fabrics will absorb color faster than others, so use your judgement as to when the garment should be removed from the water.
We recommend the suggested 30 minutes for most fabrics. Stir the clothing item continuously thoroughout the duration of this time.
Step 7: Stir the water and the clothing item continuously to allow the dye to disperse evenly in the fabric weave. You'll notice that the garment becomes darker as it "cooks" in the dye longer.
Aside from fabrics, you can dye other materials in the process made obvious by the rubber tips of our tongs turning a vibrant sky blue!
Step 8: Once the 30 minutes have past and you are happy with the color achieved, move the entire pot to the sink and carefully remove the clothing item from the water using the tongs. Keep your hands clean and protected with latex or rubber gloves during this entire process.
Step 9: Rinse the garment with warm or cold water until the water runs clear. This might take a little while depending on the clothing item being dyed- Be patient!
Keep in mind that the color as it appears at this stage is slightly darker than that of the final garment.
Step 10: As a final step, wash the garment in the washing machine along with 2-3 towels. Use mild detergent for this process. If you do not have any mild detergent, use a smaller portion of regular detergent.
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