Can I dye a polyester shower curtain using my washing machine which is a top loader with RIT powder dye?

Name: Robin


Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

Jacquard iDye

Jacquard iDye and iDye Poly

iDye Poly is disperse dye that can be used to dye polyester, nylon, and acrylic. (Note that regular iDye is a direct dye that can be used only on natural fibers such as cotton; it can be mixed with iDye Poly to dye polyester blends.)

Fabric Crayons
contain iron-on
disperse dye


Instawares Restaurant Suppy Superstore

Stainless Steel 10 Gallon Stock Pot with Lid

NSF Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid 40 qt Dyeing polyester requires a large cooking pot which must never again be used for food

Message: Can I dye a polyester shower curtain using my washing machine which is a top loader with RIT powder dye?  The shower curtain is white and I want to make it orange to match my rubber duckies....  I know to always wash anything you dye first for best results and use salt.  I am just wondering if it will work before I take a chance. 

No, it won't work.

For one thing, polyester cannot be dyed at temperatures below boiling, so it cannot be dyed in a washing machine. To dye something the size of a shower curtain with polyester dyes, you will need a huge cooking pot, probably larger than five gallons in volume. It's quite an investment, because you must never reuse a dyepot for food.

The other HUGE problem with this idea is that all-purpose dye, such as Rit, will not work at all on polyester. It will just wash out, no matter what temperature you apply it at. All-purpose dye is a combination of a fast-fading dye for cotton, called direct dye, with another kind of dye for wool or nylon, called acid dye. There is no dye in Rit that has any affinity at all for polyester. To dye polyester, you must use a special polyester dye called disperse dye, which you'd have to purchase by mail-order, since it's not available in your local shops.

If you are interested in an uneven, slightly mottled effect, you can try pigment dyeing, in which a fabric paint (pigment plus a glue-like binder) is substituted for dye. Dharma Trading Company sells a fabric paint system called Dharma Pigment Dye which can be used for coloring polyester, or you can use a Jacquard Products fabric paint such as Dye-na-Flow, a fabric paint which is designed to flow like a dye. Fabric paints can be applied at room temperature in a disposable bucket, with no need for boiling and no need for an expensive dyepot. Jacquard Fabric paints must be heat-set after they are dried, but you can easily do that with a hot iron or a commercial clothes dryer. (Home clothes dryers do not get hot enough.)

An alternative would be to use Disperse Dye Fabric Crayons (such as Crayola Fabric Crayons) to draw orange duckie designs on paper, then iron them onto your white show curtain. Fabric crayons are very unlike wax crayons, although they look similar. You can buy them in a fabric store. The high heat of the iron transfers the polyester dye to the white fabric.

See "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes" and "Fabric Paints: a different way to color fibers". Also see "Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World".

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Posted: Wednesday - August 27, 2008 at 06:50 AM          

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