Can one set the colors for tie dying with vinegar when the project is complete rather than buying the sodium carbonate and soaking the fabric before dying?

Name: Beth


Jacquard Funky Groovy Procion MX Tie-Dye Kit

Jacquard Funky Groovy Procion MX Tie-Dye Kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Dye up to 15 adult-size T-shirts, with vivid, electric colors that are so colorfast they can be washed with the daily laundry.

Message: Can one set the colors for tie dying with vinegar when the project is complete rather than buying the sodium carbonate and soaking the fabric before dying? Thanks!

No. Vinegar is useless, if you are dyeing cotton. It will do nothing to set the dye.

If you are using fiber reactive dye to tie-dye cotton, or any other cellulose fiber such as linen or rayon, you MUST use a high-pH chemical such as soda ash (sodium carbonate) to set the dye. You cannot use vinegar.

However, if you are using an all-purpose dye such as Rit, neither vinegar nor soda ash will set the dye. The only way to set Rit dye on cotton, so that it does not bleed badly in the laundry, is to buy a commercial dye fixative such as Retayne. Your local shops are unlikely to carry Retayne, so you will have to buy it buy mail-order. Even with the use of Retayne, all-purpose dye is inferior to fiber reactive dyes, such as Procion MX dye.

If you buy a good tie-dye kit, the soda ash will be included in the kit, so you will not need to buy it at all. Good tie dye kits are made by Jacquard Products, Rainbow Rock, Tulip, Dylon, and Dritz. The Jacquard Products Tie-Dye Kits contain soda ash to use as a separate pre-soak, whereas the Tulip Tie-Dye Kits contain soda ash mixed in with the dye powder. Avoid tie-dye kits that contain hot-water dye, such as the Rit Tie Dye Kit or the Magic String Tie-Dye Kit, because the colors are disappointing, they fade quickly, and they bleed forever in the laundry.

It is easy to buy sodium carbonate. Hardware stores and swimming pool supply stores sell it as "pH Up". Check the fine print on the label to make sure that it is sodium carbonate, not sodium BIcarbonate. You can also substitute washing soda from the grocery store, if it is free of additives such as dyes and perfumes. See "What is soda ash, and what's it for in dyeing?".

Soda ash can be used to set Procion MX dye (never Rit dye) by adding it to the fabric either as a presoak before adding the dye, by mixing it with the dye, or by applying the soda ash afterwards. After-fixing is not very suitable for tie-dyeing, however, because the dye will run and bleed in the soda ash before it completes setting. It is better to use the soda ash first, before the dye.

If you have all-purpose dye and are intending to use it for tie-dyeing, please change your mind. Return the unopened packages of all-purpose dye to the store, or throw it away. It can only give poor results in tie-dyeing. You will get vastly better results if you use cool water fiber reactive dyes, made by Jacquard Products, Rainbow Rock, Tulip, Dylon, or Dritz. Rit is a hot water dye and should be applied only in scalding hot water, not at room temperature; see the instructions under "How can I tie dye with RIT dye?". If you've only used Rit dye in the past, you will be amazed at how much richer and brighter are the colors that Procion MX dyes produce, and how much longer they last in the laundry.

Vinegar is useful only when you are dyeing wool or silk with acid dyes. Wool and silk are chemically very different from cotton, so they can be used with vinegar, although cotton cannot. You can use Rit dye to tie-dye wool, silk, or nylon, if you presoak the fabric in vinegar, and follow the dyeing by wrapping the still-wet dyed fabric up in plastic wrap and steaming it in a covered pot over boiling water for at least half an hour, much as you would steam vegetables. Heat-setting is required if you are using Rit dye. If you use a cooking pot to immersion dye with Rit dye, do not reuse the pot for cooking food, because Rit dye is not safe for use on food preparation utensils and equipment.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)

Posted: Monday - May 05, 2008 at 11:56 AM          

Follow this blog on twitter here.

Home Page ]   [ Hand Dyeing Top ]   [ Gallery Top ]   [ How to Dye ]   [ How to Tie Dye ]   [ How to Batik ]   [ Low Water Immersion Dyeing ]   [ Dip Dyeing ]   [ More Ideas ]   [ About Dyes ]   [ Sources for Supplies ]   [ Dyeing and  Fabric Painting Books ]   [ Links to other Galleries ]   [ Links to other informative sites ] [ Groups ] [ FAQs ]   [ Find a custom dyer ]   [ search ]   [ contact me ]  

© 1999-2011 Paula E. Burch, Ph.D. all rights reserved