Can i dye my clothes with a black that will STAY black?
Message: hi, i like my black clothes (t-shirts, jeans, shirts, etc.) to stay 'dark' black but it has been my experience that store bought black clothes fade to a dark gray after only a few washes - i have never dyed clothes before so my question is can i dye my clothes black that will STAY black? (fyi where ever possible i choose 100% cotton clothing) --- rgds Al
The secret is to choose the right dye. The most easily obtained dye is all-purpose dye, but this type of dye will not only fade quickly in the laundry, it will also ruin other clothing if you don't carefully sort by color. Choosing fiber reactive dye, such as Procion MX dye, instead, will give you vastly superior results.
Sometimes dyes fade because they are inferior; other times, they fade because the water contains bleaching agents, chlorine or chloramine, which degrade even very good dyes. I have experienced much more fading in my own clothing since my municipality switched to using chloramine to disinfect the water, instead of chlorine.
An inferior dye can be protected from fading in the laundry by treating it, once, with a commercial cationic dye fixative, such as Retayne or Dyefix. Clothing should also be washed only in cool water, whenever possible, in order to retain poor-quality dyes. Clothing may also appear faded due to abrasion; always turn your garments inside-out before washing them.
The effects of chloramine and chlorine in the wash water might be prevented by using AntiChlor (sodium bisulfite or sodium metabisulfite) in the final rinse. Surprisingly, non-chlorine oxygen bleach is also effective as an anti-chlorine agent, though I do not know whether it is as effective against chloramine.
The best dye to use at home on your black cotton clothing is cool water fiber reactive dye, such as Procion MX or Drimarene K dye, which can be mail-ordered from Batik Oetoro, since you are in Australia; many different dye suppliers around the world are listed on my Sources for Dyeing Supplies page. Tulip One Step Fashion Dye and Dylon Cold dye contain Procion MX dyes. Dylon Washing Machine dye and Dylon Permanent dye contain another fiber reactive dye which also works very well. However, Dylon Multi-purpose dye should be avoided, like other brands of all-purpose dye. Similarly, Tintex Cold Water dye which is available in Australia should also work well, but avoid Tintex Hot Water dye (and the North American brand, Tintex® Easy Fabric Dye) when washfastness is important.
The easiest way to dye your black clothing is in the washing machine; see "How can I dye clothing or fabric in the washing machine?".
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[Updated May 5, 2008.]
Posted: Wednesday - August 10, 2005 at 06:01 AM