dyeing to cover paint stains on a poly/nylon down coat

Name: Darlene


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Message: My teenage daughter leaned her rip stop polyester/nylon blend ski coat (which has a waterproof system, is breathable and fully seam lined, with the inside fill of down) into drying paint. She immediately washed it in warm water and put it in the dryer. The ski coat is light beige and the paint is between a light and medium grey color. She thought she got most of it out but it is still very noticeable now that the paint has dried on the coat. We do not know if the paint was latex or oil but I put paint thinner on the coat and it didn't take any of the paint off. I think the dryer set the paint directly into the rip stop material. I checked with the coats manufacturer and they can not tell me the ratio of polyester to nylon. Is there anything you carry I can use to save this coat? We live in the mountains of Colorado, the coat was expensive and it's her 1 and only ski coat. If so, we would like to dye it dark enough to cover the medium grey paint but stay as light in color as we possibly can. My fear, if there is such a dye, is that the paint stain will stain differently than the rest of the coat.

You are quite right. The paint mark will inevitably take dye differently than the rest of the coat. There is no way to hide house paint stains with dye.

Dyeing is not your answer. The paint will act as a resist for any dye you might apply, like the wax in batik.

Once latex paint has dried, there is no solvent that can remove it. Even oil paint will polymerize as it dries, making it highly resistant to any paint remover. The fact that they cannot be dissolved is one of the things that makes paint durable. Washing right away was a good move, but, as you observed, the heat of the dryer can set a paint stain that has not been removed. High heat hastens the polymerization of a paint's binder. You have to start washing immediately, before any drying of the paint has occurred, and continue to wash until all paint is removed.

The fact that the coat is water resistant means that it is completely undyeable. The water resistant coating will also resist any dye. There is no way to remove a water resistant finish well enough to allow even dyeing.

It's not impossible to dye a polyester/nylon blend that is not water resistant, but it's certainly not practical. You would have to boil the coat in disperse dye for an extended period of time, a process that is likely to ruin any down filling and any stretchy parts that contain spandex. This would require an enormous cooking pot, one large enough to permit the fabric to move freely as you stir it; since you should not plan to reuse a dyeing pot for food preparation, the cost of the pot would be a considerable investment, possibly greater than the cost of a new coat. 

The only thing you can do now to improve the appearance of this coat is to apply more paint. Fabric paint gives better results on fabric than other types of paint. Unfortunately, the water resistant finish will also resist paint, making it adhere unevenly, which will give splotchy results. Don't even try to get a smooth solid color. You can try adding similar marks to the one you already have, to try to make it look like you meant to do that, but I'm not sure that this will really improve the appearance of the coat.

The best answer, if replacing the coat with a new one is unworkable right now, may be to take a look at used clothing stores and online sellers to see if you can get another coat more cheaply.

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Posted: Monday - October 12, 2009 at 07:16 AM          

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