How Much Dye To Use?
  • I want to dye my cotton/linen bedroom curtains a bright turquoise. I have purchased 4 (2/3 oz) containers of Procion MX dye in 068 Turquoise and a one pound bag of Jacquard Soda Ash. My central question is how much dye to use. On the amount to use for washing machine dyeing, your Instructions say only "Procion� MX dye (double the amounts for Immersion dyeing, page 2)". But since the document has no page divisions, am I to assume that this notation here refers to the "General amounts for dyeing per 3 gallons of water and one pound of fabric" listed above after "Method Two" on this same page?

    I want to dye 6 individual curtains, each of which is 84" (7 FT) X 50" (4 ft. 2"). By my calculations, each curtain should thus be approximately 3.1 square yards, so for 6 of them I would have 18.6 square yards. (Is this so far correct??) In the Washing Machine section the instructions indicate 3-5 lbs of fabric is equivalent to 5-7 yards; under the "General amounts for dyeing per 3 gallons of water and one pound of fabric", for "darker shades" it indicates 2 T. dye, 2 C salt and 1/4 C. soda ash per pound. Since I have 18 sq yards of fabric, by the machine calculations this would be some 12 pounds, and if I am to double the amount of dye needed, would this mean I needed 4 Tbsp per pound x 12 lbs, or 48 Tbsp of Turquoise Dye??? And if machine washing needs 6-8 cups salt and 3 cups soda ash for 3-5 pounds of fabric dyed to a darker shade, then would my estimated 12 pounds then need 21 cups of salt and 9 cups soda ash??
    I would greatly appreciate your help! I need to know how much dye and how much soda ash I need for the 6 curtains, plus need to know whether I need to dye the curtains in 2 separate lots of 3 curtains each, or just what.
    Thanks for having a site where newbies can ask such questions!
  • First, it would be best to actually weigh the fabric, rather than estimating the weight.

    Figuring out how much dye to use- 3-5% is where you want to be and somewhere at 3-4% is probably good for a color like Turquoise. So, once you get the actual weight of the fabric, then you can do the calculations. If we assume that the fabric actually weighs 12lbs, then you would need about 5.76 ounces for 3% and 7.68 ounces for 4%.

    Next, you need to figure out how many curtains you can dye at once. The curtains need to float freely in the machine otherwise they won't dye evenly (even with the agitation of the machine, you'll probably need to shut the machine off and manually move things around). One dye bath is best for uniformity of color, but multiple baths may be necessary if they are too bulky.

    Salt is recommended for even dyeing, but is not required. I would probably just do 6-8 cups of salt per load and call it good.

    Soda ash, on the other hand, is required. It fixes the dye, so if you don't use enough then there will be problems. As per the instructions, if you are doing a medium load with 3-5 pounds of fabric, you'll want to use 2-3 cups of soda ash. If you end up dyeing everything in one extra large load, then you would want to double that amount. A 1lb bag of soda ash has about 2 cups, so that will help you to determine how many bags of soda ash to buy.

  • Your reply is extremely helpful as well as rapid, for which I thank you greatly! One question: are the curtains to be weighed dry, or are they to be weighed while damp -- i.e., after they have been pre-washed and spun dry before dyeing?
    Two more quick questions: (1) there was a notation in your website somewhere about Turquoise being a special dye in some way---(sorry I can't remember exactly where I read it). Are you aware of any special issues about Turquoise? (2) re Sythrapol: necessary? or will some other more readily available washing solution work (hand dishwashing soap, for instance)?
    Again, thanks for your prompt and easily understandable comments!
  • Fabric should always be weighed dry. The only thing that I can recall about Turquoise is the fact that it isn't dischargable. Other than that, I'm not sure what else you might have read.

    Synthrapol is great to have if you can get it. It is a concentrated detergent that is free of colors, perfumes and softeners. Household laundry detergent will work fine in most circumstances, but could deposit chemicals onto the fabric that might interfere with dyeing.

  • I bought some soda ash fixer and procion mx 150 jet black dye because I have an old faded black large mens cotton t-shirt, and some old faded black size 36 cut off jean shorts, and size 36 cotton jeans, and navy blue and dark grey large blazer that is %80 cotton, %18 percent cotton and %2 spandex.

    I think to make sure they "float freely" well enough in the washer I should just do 2 articles of clothing at a time but the thing is I don't have a scale to weigh them in my house so is there another way to determine weight? Also why must you use so much more dye for the washing machine method than the tub method? I do have a setting on my washing machine to control how much water fills up...
  • P.s. So how much dye can I spare for the fact that most of my clothes are black anyway and just need to be renewed to their original brilliance?

    If I keep returning to the washing machine before it goes to the "rinse" cycle and resetting it back to the beginning will it dye better if it's been soaking for longer than the time suggested?
  • P.p.s Forgive me if I sound like a complete moron but I'm new to this stuff hahaha. For the blazer I meant to say %18 polyester, uughh...
  • Hi CC,

    First off, yes, because you are starting with fabrics that already have dark color in them you are essentially adding a layer of color so you'll be able to get away with a bit less dye.
    As a very rough starting point you can figure that one yard of fabric is equal to 3/4 to 1 pound of fabric. Because you are not trying to achieve any sort of repeatable results this estimate should be sufficient to your purpose here.
    The reason you use more dye in the washer is because the washing machine uses much more water than one would when tub dyeing. Most top loading washers, even at their lowest setting, fill with about 20 gallons of water. Resetting the machine before it goes to the rinse cycle will help with the dye uptake although once you've added the soda ash all dye available to the fabric will have exhausted in about an hour.
    Having said all that I'm going to give you my quick a dirty method for refreshing the color on faded fabrics. You are on the right track - over dyeing in the washing machine is the best and easiest method. Based on the amount of clothing you've described I would dye them all at once. Use the medium setting on the machine, warm water. (Though Procion MX is a 'cold water' dye results with the dye are greatly improved with warm water.)
    To ensure that all the dye is well dissolved before you introduce the fabric to the dye bath pre-dissolve the dye in a quart of hot water. Pre-wet your garments. Fill your machine to the appropriate level with warm water. Add the pre-dissolved dye. Add the garments. Allow to agitate for about 20 minutes, resetting the cycles as necessary. It is a good idea at each reset to manually rearrange the garments - this further ensures an even dyeing.
    Pre-dissolve about 2 cups of soda ash in about 1/2 gallon of hot water. After the 20 minutes stop the machine, move the fabric to one side and add the soda ash. Rearrange the garments and resume the agitation. Continue resetting to agitation for the next 30 - 50 minutes. Once time has completed allow the machine to complete its cycles. Once the full cycle is complete run the garments through a normal wash cycle and ta-da!

    hope this helps
  • Thank you very much for the info!
    I have been a bit busy lately and haven't done the dying just yet. In case I decide to use the tub method instead what would your advice be knowing the articles of clothing I have?

    I have a large size plastic garbage bin that is not in use at the moment I might use if I decide this route.

  • Hi,

    The plastic bin will work quite well.

  • I mean in the sense that is there any extra special tips and tricks using the tub method with a pair of size 36 cotton jean shorts, size 36 cotton jeans, %80 cotton blazer, and cotton t-shirt, all thrown in together that wouldn't also apply to the washer method?
  • I want them to be as permanent as possible because I have dyed clothes with Rit dye and Tintex dye and have had them fade alot after as little as a month of use. Possibly because the water wasn't hot enough or didn't leave them in long enough I don't know but I decided to not use the same dyes this time around. Jacquard dye is more expensive but I was told I could get away with not having to keep water as hot.
  • Your information regarding the Procion MX dye is true. It is not necessary to use hot water. The only thing you'll need to ensure good fixation is the soda ash mentioned in the instructions: MX Instructions.pdf. The only other thing you'll need to do is more stirring and moving the fabrics around as the machine does most of that.

    if you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask
  • Hello,

    I work for a university and I was planning to have a tie dyeing event where 500 T-Shirts will be tie dyed. Where are going to have different colors for the student. I was wondering how much dye would I need to buy for this event or how should I go about it?
  • Hello,

    Generally speaking we recommend about one ounce of dye for each 10-15 large adult shirts. A quick and easy computation: 500/12 (average of 10-15) = 41.66 ounces of dye. If you are planning to use an equal amount of several different colors of dye divide the 41.66 by the number of dyes you are using and voila! So, if you are using 3 colors of dye you would need about 14 ounces of dye in each color. Six colors = 7 ounces of dye per color and so on.
    Don't forget your soda ash - depending on just how you think you are going to set this up you'll want between 5 and 10 pounds of soda ash.
    For more info here are the instructions: MX Instructions.pdf

    hope this helps
  • Thank You it helps a lot.
  • Hello !

    I plan on dying 30 shirts for a team event. I've never dyed shirts without the help of someone who has done it before. Unfortunately, no one with experience will be around. I am in dyer need of help and a walk through on how to do this. I know i need 100% cotton shirts, the desired procion MX dye colour and soda ash. What i have also read but am not sure how to encorporate is uric acid or urea in order to make the colors more vibrant. I need help with ratios of dye to water to urea and how much dye will be needed to complete 30 shirts.

    Thank you so much !