Setting Dye In Silk Fabric
  • I used Jacquard Silk Colors to hand paint a silk banner. Then, using Jacquard dye set, I followed the directions: 3 tablespoons per quart of cold tap water. I used this amount for three quarts of water, and stirred my banner for five minutes. Then the directions said to rinse with liquid soap under running water. For liquid soap, I used liquid dish cleanser. When I finished, the white areas of my banner had picked up other colors. Is this to be expected? Did I goof when I used liquid dish cleanser? (It does not say soap on the bottle). Is there any way to recover my white areas, or is dying always going to be hit and miss? I'm sick.
  • This is a common problem when rinsing. What happens is excess dye comes out during the rinse and stains the fabric. You see it most in your white areas, but probably the entire piece is stained or "dirty." This is called back-staining. The problem is exacerbated by the presence of the fixative. This is one reason steam-setting dyes on silk is often preferable to using a chemical fixative. One thing that really helps is using Synthrapol as your soap ( Synthrapol is a neutral detergent that is used to remove excess dye. It works especially well because it keeps loose dye particles in suspension. This allows you to rinse out excess dye without back-staining. I have a feeling that dish cleaner is probably not the best choice of detergents...
    (By the way, are you using Green or Red Label Silk Colors? If you are using Red Label dyes, it is important that you dilute them, to minimize the amount of dye that comes out during the rinse).
    In terms of how you can reclaim your white areas: it will be a bit of a challenge, depending on how badly they are back-stained. One thing many artists do is use a mild Color Remover ( The idea is to remove the dye on the surface of the fabric, which is the back-stain. You just have to be careful not to overdue do it: if your silk is in the remover too long, or if it is too hot, you can end up removing the dye in your painting, which is obviously undesirable.
    I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns...
  • You're right. The entire piece is "dirty" and mottled. I used Green Label Silk Colors. The directions on the Synthrapol say to rinse the dyed piece in cold water and then wash in hot water with Synthrapol. My piece is 3 feet by 4 feet. How do I rinse and keep the fabric from back-staining before I get it into the washer?

    If I choose to use Color Remover, can I expect that it will take out ALL the color, leaving the fabric white, white again? I feel the colors are poor quality and faded, and wonder if I should just start over. If I were to remove all the color, will it damage the fabric?

    If, after considering all this, I decide to trying steaming it, do you recommend someone in the Westminster, Broomfield area? Or do you have directions for steaming that are safe and easy enough for a novice?
  • That is Westminster or Broomfield, Colorado area.
  • Here is how I recommend you fix and rinse:

    Allow at least 24 hours for your silk painting to dry. Prepare the fixative bath by mixing 1oz of dye set per quart of cold water. You want your fabric to be able to swim freely (ideally, without any bunching or folding necessary), so use a bigger container with more liquid that you might have expected you'd need. (Wide mouth containers or large, deep trays are preferable for this reason). Plunge the fabric into the fix bath and keep it moving. Especially at first, you want to keep stirring and agitating vigorously. Try to minimize the amount of time the fabric spends touching itself. After 4 or 5 minutes, move the fabric into a warm rinse bath containing Synthrapol. Keep fabric moving and add hot water until the bath is hot. Then had cold water, continuing to stir, until it is luke warm and no soap and very little dye is rinsing out. Then hang to dry and do not allow the fabric to touch itself until it is totally dry. You want to avoid fabric to fabric contact as much as possible, the entire time.

    Color removers do not damage fabric (it's bleach that does that); they just remove dyes. So yes, theoretically you could completely wipe out your painting and start over. I was recommending that you do a mild (short and/or cold) treatment in a color remover in order to remove the back-staining on your fabric. This is very effective for brightening colors, "cleaning" the "dirty" fabric, and reclaiming white areas (making them white white again). However, you could also use a color remover (with a lot of heat) to remove ALL your dye. Some colors are more susceptible to the remover than others, however, so you might not be able to get it COMPLETELY white again.

    Steaming won't really help with the back-staining of this particular piece because you've already used the chemical and back-stained it). Steam setting would be an alternate route for next time, or for later down the road. You can use the store locator on our website ( to find a steamer retailer near you. If that doesn't work, give us a call at 800-442-0455. There are plenty of ways to make your own steamer too. We don't have instructions up on our site yet, but if you provide an email address, I will send you a document with instructions. My email address is:

    I hope this is helpful!
  • In creating large banners with Jacquard red label dyes, I've been able to avoid the back-staining with a little trick. After the banner is steamed, I take it outside and lay it over some aluminum window screens I picked up at a thrift store. (On the ground.) Next, I use my garden hose to spray the dye into the grass beneath. When most of the dye's been forced into the ground, I move the piece into a waiting bucket that has Synthropol in the water. I move the silk around in that for a while and then move it to one or two other already filled rinse buckets. This has allowed me to have vibrant colors without back~staining. I hope this helps someone!
  • Thanks for sharing!
  • @GailBryant; I am wondering why you are rinsing your banner after steaming it?
    Jacquard & Artists:
    I am brand new to this whole silk dyeing world- finding silk is magical to paint & loving the color blending techniques... Feel like I'm painting Aurora Borealis when I sit down to do this- I'm teaching my special needs clients how to do this (with donated dyes!) and we hope to be able to sell hand painted silk ties for a fundraiser. Obviously setting the dye is of utmost importance, as it is to every artist. I want this to flow beautifully for everyone concerned. Any tips? Thank you!
  • Dear Laugher,

    Based on another post from you I see that you are using Green Label Silk Dyes (please correct me if I am wrong.) To set the Green Label Silk Dyes you can use the DyeSet Concentrate - simply allow the ties to dry over night, mix the concentrate with water per instructions, immerse the ties, swish around for a couple of minutes, rinse in clear water and allow to dry. DONE!


    p.s. rinsing after steaming removes excess dyes that could run if they got wet. There is often excess dye in painted pieces.
  • Thanks for all the great tips. I'm wanting to dye set my first 9 x 40 inch silk painted banner. I purchased the dye-set concentrate by Jacquard recommended on the back of the Jacquard silk colors, green label. In Hawaii, it was $7.69 for 8 oz. I read that 1 oz is needed for every quart and I ought to make 3 quarts (3 oz of dye-set) for every 45 square inches of fabric I have.

    I have 360 sq. inches to set. That means I'll need 24 oz of dye-set concentrate to fix one banner! Or 3 bottles of dye-set! I must be missing something here. Like enough cash to pursue this beautiful art! We have more than 20 banners we've made with homeless children to help them learn to "paint their own reality." My best option may be home steaming, and I would appreciate any instruction you have on low-cost and easy steam setting.

    Thanks so much!
  • Dear Marya,

    Yes...we are working on our instructions!
    For a scarf of your size 3 quarts of Dye Set solution is going to more than sufficient.


  • Hi Annette, I recently hand painted a bunch of silk scarves and followed the instructions of the Jacquard permanent dye set very carefully (used the Jacquard liquid ready-to-use dyes) but some of the color bled when I took it to the cleaners. Also, the wax residue around the images spread and didn't come out- used the Jacquard soy wax which said ok for batik. I do not know what to do because these are all orders and I spent several hours on each one!! Can you help?
  • Is it possible for you to call me at 800 442 0455? I think this will need a full discussion which is difficult in this forum