HELP! Acid dyes back-staining on silk
  • HELP!

    I painted a white silk fabric with a design with the Jacquard acid dyes(with white background showing)... I went to steam set, and them wash it in synthrapol, and it bled/backstained!! Ahhh! What can I do to reclaim the white areas (there's alot of them!)???? Does the Jacquard color remover work on silk? Can I paint it on? I don't really know the process for using that stuff.... Please help!!
  • This is THE challenge when painting dyes onto silk: how to avoid back staining. There are many variables at play, and so it will be difficult to say exactly why you are having this issue without discussing your methods and process in detail. In terms of what you can do about it NOW, there are a couple options...

    Color removers do work on silk. The thing to remember about color removers (or "discharge chemicals" as they are called in the biz) is that they work differently with different colors of dye, even within the same dye class. Turquoise, for example, is notorious for not discharging very well. (Here is a chart that describes the dischargeability of each color in the acid dye range: Dye Tech Info.pdf). If you are looking for a color remover that you can "paint on," I think you'll want to use Discharge Paste ( Discharge Paste can be applied wherever you want to remove color. You let it dry (not quite completely) and then you iron it on a steam setting. The heat/steam of the iron activates the color remover and you can watch it happen. You then wash out the paste.
    The other color removers ( are several--are used in a pot on the stove top. They require high heat to function. In general, the hotter they get, the more color they remove (to a degree). Depending on how badly your fabric is back stained, you may want to try a mild bath in a color remover (dilute the chemical or keep the temp relatively low). This is actually a common fix for back staining: the color remover will strip a layer of dye off the surface of your fibers, leaving your dyes looking brighter and your whites whiter. You just have to be careful not to overdue it...

    For future reference, you'll want to make sure your dyes are not overly concentrated, that you are steaming them properly, and that you are rinsing properly. The rinse is the hardest part. If you need some pointers just let me know!

    I hope this is helpful. Be in touch if you have any other questions or concerns...


  • Thanks for your advice!

    I have and am familiar with the discharge paste... I just wasn't sure if there was something better to use. I will try that and see.

    About the 'Color Remover', it seems a bit tricky to get it to work properly. If I do the whole piece, is it going to remove some of the design too? When you say low temp, how low? And how long does it sit in this bath?

    Thanks so much!
  • If you treat the entire piece with a color remover, you will have to be careful not to let it go too far. If you leave your fabric in the remover for too long, or if you get it too hot, you run the risk of removing some of your design. Typically color removers are used on the stove top at a temp just below simmering, for 10-20 minutes. If you want to try this method to clean up your back staining, I would just recommend using less of the chemical (how much depends on how large your piece is), keeping the temp relatively low (maybe 10 degrees lower than a simmer) and keeping a close eye on its progress. You can remove the fabric periodically and check how much colro has been removed. Then you can put it back in the pot or wash it, depending on whether you want to continue removing color or if you think it looks good. Removing the fabric and washing it will cease the color removing action. This is an effective way to clean back stains, it is just a little risky... However, if you are careful, I think you will be happy with your results...
  • Thank you. I purchased some color remover to experiment. I saw on Dharma that they have a recipe to make a homemade discharge paste from their house color remover. Do you know if Jacquards is identical?? I have all those other ingredients to make a paste to paint on, but maybe Jacquards color remover has a different makeup. I'm just worried about putting this whole piece in a color remover bath.
  • One more question...

    After I'm done discharging it, I'll want to wash it.... But I'm afraid more color will bleed. Should I steam-iron the heck out of it before washing??? Add vinegar to the wash or something?
  • Dharma's Color Remover is thiourea dioxide. Jacquard's Color Remover (in a bottle) is as well. The recipe therefore should be compatible. The Jacquard iDye Color Remover has recently been switched from thiourea dioxide to sodium hyrdosulfite. The new chemical is stronger and faster acting on most dyes. However, this is a recent change that might not have hit the streets yet--meaning retailers of iDye may still be selling the old version. If you do happen to have some of the new product, I cannot guarantee Dharma's paste recipe.

    There are a few options if you are concerned about further bleeding. First of all, steam-ironing won't help you fix more dye. I am assuming you have already steam set your piece for the appropriate amount of time? If not, you can always re-steam it, although you might end up steam setting your back stains! Using a fixative in your rinse is one option. I'd recommend the iDye Fixative ( This will chemically set your dyes before they have a chance to wash out. However, this method has its own challenges, as any dye that bleeds out will be fixed, causing more back staining.

    I think it will probably be more helpful to address your washing methods... How do you typically wash your hand painted fabric? Do you do your first rinse in the washing machine? In a pot? In running water? Careful rinsing technique is the best way to avoid back staining... That and making sure your dyes not overly concentrated to begin with...
  • I washed this hand painted fabric in warm water and Synthrapol... and the blue bled out. The blue dye was probably a bit too concentrated, so that's why. I just set it in this bath and very gently swished it around.

    When I go to wash again, I'm sure I should just wash it in COOL water and Synthrapol, right? Do you recommend anything else? I'm not sure if I have to time to get that fixative, but I'll see.

  • That's right,: you'll want to stick with cool water. Use plenty of water, so the fabric can move freely. You want to avoid bunching and folding during the wash as much as possible. The more water you use, the lighter any staining will be, as the dye that comes off will be more diluted. Also, keep the water flowing. If you can drain as you fill, you'll be able to wash the excess dye down the drain. Otherwise, your wash bath might get muddy and stain your fabric. Synthrapol will help a lot.
  • I washed it in synthrapol and cool water, but it seems to still have discharge paste in the fabric. Like, its stiff to the touch. Do you recommend something??? Should I wash it longer. I'm sure it would come out with some hot water, but I'm worried about the color running.