The dye rubs off when item is dry. How can I stop this?

Name: Julie

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Flowable Extender

Flowable Extender is the medium-bodied clear acrylic base for Lumiere and Neopaque fabric paints. 


Retayne color fixative solution-4 ounce

Retayne Color Fixative Solution

Retayne will make all-purpose dyes such as Tintex and Rit last longer and bleed less in the laundry. Not needed with fiber reactive dyes such as Procion MX. Will not solve crocking of dry dye.


Country or region: UK

Message: Please I'd be very grateful if you could help. I have purchased an item that is 75% cotton and 15% mohair and the dye rubs off when item is dry. How can I stop this? Is it best to use a fixative or just wash repeatedly?

Crocking (rubbing off when dry) is a different problem from dye that runs when it's wet. It's harder to solve. You can't simply use a cationic dye fixative, such as Retayne, to fix the dye, because it won't work. The dye is rubbing off because some of it is not even loosely attached to the fiber. 

There are two common causes for this problem. One occurs when the dyer neglects the all-important washing-out step after dyeing. It is always necessary to wash out excess unattached dye after dyeing. If this is the problem, then all you have to do is wash the item until it no longer crocks. Some people will tell you to wash it with salt or vinegar, but they don't know what they're talking about; neither will help any more than simply washing in water, though a little vinegar in the final rinse is good for restoring the pH of the mohair after any washing.

The other problem is caused by applying the dye the wrong way, with a total disregard for how the dye should be applied. This is a sign of an incompetent dyer. For example, when vat dyes, such as indigo, are applied with the wrong chemicals or at too heavy a concentration, the loose dye particles fail to penetrate the fiber and rub off easily afterwards. There is no solution at all for this one, if a few washings don't do it.

Any item that crocks dry dye should be returned to the seller for a full refund, because it was not dyed correctly. The seller cheated you by selling you an item that cannot be used without damaging whatever it touches.

If you can't return the item, try washing the item several times, and see if it helps. Often it will. If it does not, try soaking it in hot water. Unfortunately, while very hot water is the best for removing excess dye, it can also be bad for animal fibers such as mohair. When washing animal-hair products such as wool or mohair in hot water, do not subject the material to any sudden changes in temperature. Instead, gradually warm the water you are soaking the item in, and, afterwards, allow it to cool gradually.

For a small item that does not have to feel very soft, you can glue the loose dye particles in place by painting fairly heavily with a clear colorless fabric paint binder, such as Jacquard Products' Neopaque Flowable Extender or PRO Chemical & Dye's Lo Crock Binder. You can buy Jacquard's products online in the UK from George Weil. However, like any fabric paint, the clear fabric paint binder will leave a slightly harsher feel on the fabric, and it can be a lot of trouble to apply it evenly to a large piece of clothing, so it's not always suitable.

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Posted: Sunday - November 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM          

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