Want to make a light garment black or revive your faded black jeans? It might seem complicated but with enough knowledge on how to dye clothes black, DIY dyeing will be easy-peasy! You’re in the right place as we will share with you the know-how you need in dyeing clothes black.
Can you dye clothing black?
We will give you a straightforward answer — yes!
Regardless of the current color of your garment, you can dye it black. It won’t really matter if it is white or pink. You can even dye clothing that is already black like your favorite pair of black jeans or a faded dress.
First thing’s first: know your fabrics
Before you start learning how to dye clothes black, it’s crucial that you first get to know your fabrics. It may sound cliche but not all fabrics are the same. Each kind has its own qualities and characteristics.
That being said, not all fabrics react to dye in the same way. You need to know what kind of fabric you are working on so you can handle it properly when you dye it black.
A popular kind of fabric when it comes to clothing, cotton can handle dye very well. In fact, to add color to clothing made of cotton, it undergoes a dyeing process.
If you plan on dying a dress or top made of cotton, you will surely enjoy it as the dye will stick to your clothing well. Trust us, you will love the result!
A fabric made of synthetic material, nylon is typically used in clothing pieces such as activewear and form-fitting items like stockings. Just like cotton, nylon can absorb dye well.
Often made into beddings and kitchen towels, linen is also used in making shirts, dresses, and other clothing items. Like the previous kinds of fabrics, linen takes in dye well. Be careful, though, as there is the risk of shrinkage during the dyeing process.
Wool is sometimes known as fleece, cashmere, and tweed. It is made of fibers from different animals and is commonly used in making gloves, socks, hats, and outerwear.
While dye works well on wool, this fabric may be tricky to work on as you can end up shrinking your garment.
Silk carries an exquisite and expensive feel probably because of its smooth texture. Clothing manufacturers usually use this fabric in making nightgowns, dresses, and blouses. You can dye garments made of silk but you can end up ruining the quality of the fabric.
Wash your garment
Now that you are familiar with the different kinds of fabric, you can easily tell what you are working on. If you are still unsure, simply check the tag or label of your garment. It typically shows the kind of material your garment is made of and other instructions such as for washing and ironing.
The first step of how to dye clothes black is to wash the items you are going to dye. This is very important especially when your garment is new and has not been washed yet.
Toss your clothes into your washing machine and put on a warm cycle. You don’t need to use detergent but if you want, feel free to do so. Afterwhich, hang it to dry.
By doing this, you can see how your fabric reacts to being agitated in water. It will also test if your garment will shrink when you dye it on your own.
Pick the right dye
Choosing the right dye is just as important as the entire dyeing process because the results depend on how effective your dye is.
You can make your own dye using natural materials. This can be quite tricky especially if you have zero knowledge of creating dye.
Alternatively, you can choose the easy route and use pre-formulated dye which you can easily find in stores. Check the label to see if there are special instructions and which fabrics it works best with.
Dyeing using a washing machine
How to dye clothes black? Use a washing machine! Many prefer the washing machine method of dyeing because it is easy and convenient. In fact, some say it is the easiest among the dyeing methods.
You will probably have jitters when you use your washing machine to dye your clothes black for the first time. That is completely understandable as there is the fear of the dye sticking to your washer and eventually discoloring all items you put in it. This is why it’s important to pick a dye that is of good quality.
Disclaimer: This method is not suitable for clothing made of synthetic fabrics as these have different dynamics. You might not end up with your expected result.
Watch this video summarizing the entire process:
Step 1: Wet your garment.
Before tossing your garment into the washing machine, wet it first.
Step 2: Set the temperature setting of your washer.
Your washer should be in its hottest setting as hot water will make dye stick to your clothes better. Set the temperature to high and the wash cycle timer to at least 30 minutes.
The rule of thumb when it comes to dyeing using a washing machine is that the longer your garment is exposed to the dye, the darker and richer its color will be.
Step 3: Mix your solution.
It’s time to make your magic potion. Add your dye powder or liquid dye to hot water and stir it well so that you have a well-mixed solution. Put your dye potion in the dispenser for detergent.
There is another solution you should also create. In a different container, combine a cup of salt and 4 cups of hot water and stir well to dissolve. This salt solution will help dye settle into natural fibers such as cotton and linen.
For fabrics like nylon or silk, do not use salt but instead, put together a cup of white vinegar and 2 to 4 cups of hot water. Set this aside for later use.
Step 4: Start your cycle.
After preparing your washing machine, put your garment inside and start your wash cycle.
Step 5: Add the vinegar or salt solution.
When you are about 10 minutes into the cycle, pour the salt or vinegar solution into the detergent container.
Once you have poured your solution, add 4 cups of hot water to flush out the dye and solution. Doing this will prevent accidental dyeing of other garments when you use your washer in doing the laundry.
Step 6: Rewash your garment.
After the dyeing wash cycle, rewash your item using warm water and mild detergent. Presto! You now have a newly dyed black garment.
To clean your washing machine, grab a towel and wipe it around the lid. Put some bleach in the dispensers where the dyes were placed, add detergent, and have a wash cycle with the hottest temperature setting.
You may put old towels so that you can check if accidental dyeing or discoloration takes place. If the towels come out clean, then chances are, your washing machine has been cleaned and you can do normal laundry again.
Dyeing using a pot and a stove
Another method of dyeing at home is the stovetop method. This is a nice option if you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning your washing machine.
Step 1: Fill your pot with water.
Prepare a pot, preferably one that will be your official dyeing pot, and fill it with water. Make sure that the water level is enough to submerge the garment and at the same time not too much as it might spill when you move your garment around.
Step 2: Heat the water.
Put the pot on top of your stove, cover it, and turn on the heat. Set the heat just below boiling point.
Step 3: Add the dye.
If you notice the water starting to simmer, add your powder or liquid dye.
Just like with the washing machine method, put one cup of salt if you are dyeing cotton or linen. For silk or wool, add a cup of vinegar. Also, put in a teaspoon of dish detergent to level the dyeing.
Stir and mix the solution well. [The Complete Guide To Dye Your Clothes Black With Coffee]
Step 4: Wet your garment and put it in the pot.
This step is very important. Wet your garment first, remove excess water, then place it in your pot. Maintain a heat that is enough for a low simmer during your dyeing process.
Step 5: Stir, stir, stir!
Once your garment is inside the pot, stir and move your garment around. For the first 10 minutes, just keep stirring so that the entire surface of the garment is evenly dyed. You can extend the stirring and dyebath up to an hour.
Note that you may need to let your garment stay in the dye bath for at least half an hour if it is made of polyester or polyester cotton blend. This is so the dye will stick to the fabric.
On the contrary, if you are dyeing nylon, you can cut the dye bath time as it is quick-drying and may come off as darker compared to other fibers.
Step 6: Remove from the pot and take off excess liquid.
If you have attained the level of black that you want, carefully take out your garment from the hot dye bath. It is recommended that you use rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands and also prevent burns.
Squeeze the garment to remove liquid and excess dye.
Step 7: Rinse and wash.
First, rinse your dyed garment in warm water then eventually cold water. Do this until the water becomes clear which means there is no more excess dye.
Wash your garment in warm water together with mild detergent and let it dry. Follow all the steps on how to dye clothes black using the stovetop method.
Dyeing using a sink or bucket
Probably the most common method that people use in how to dye clothes black is the sink or bucket method. It’s somehow similar to the stovetop method only that it does not use direct heat.
Some prefer this method because it is less risky. After all, you won’t be using a washing machine or a stove. You can do this in an area where you can move freely especially when you opt to use a bucket.
Step 1: Fill your bucket or sink with water.
The first step is putting water in your bucket or sink. Because there is no direct heat unlike the stovetop method, your water should be pre-heated with a temperature of approximately 140ºF.
Step 2: Add salt or vinegar and dye.
Before putting in your dye, add a cup of salt for cotton or linen garments or a cup of vinegar for silk or wool. Mix well so that the salt dissolves or the vinegar is combined with the water.
After that, put your dye powder or liquid dye then stir and mix.
Step 3: Put your fabric in the dye bath and stir.
Submerge your garment in the dye bath and stir for 10 minutes or more so that there will be no splotches and color is distributed equally.
Step 4: Remove and squeeze excess liquid.
Once you are satisfied with how black your garment looks, remove it from your bucket or sink and squeeze out excess liquid.
Step 5: Rinse and wash.
Put your garment under running cold water to rinse off excess dye. If the water eventually becomes clear, wash your dyed garment in warm water and mild detergent.
The end result is a beautifully dyed black clothing item.
This video shows how to do the bucket or sink method of dyeing:
Easily dye clothes back at home
How to dye clothes black is easy and you can do it in the comfort of your home. Whether you want to shake up a garment and turn it into black or bring back the dark color of a black item, you can do it just by following the steps listed.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.