Can you use soda ash after tie dyeing during the first wash? WIll it help if you didn't soak in soda ash pre-dyeing?

Name: Starre and Brian


Arm & hammer super washing soda

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Washing soda contains sodium carbonate decahydrate, so it works well as a fixative for fiber reactive dyes.


Jacquard Soda Ash Dye Fixer

Jacquard soda ash dye fixer 1 lb.
Soda ash is a mild alkali that promotes the chemical reaction between fiber reactive dye and cellulose fiber. Soda ash is also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda, or sal soda.


Country or region: US

Message: Can you use soda ash after tie dyeing during the first wash? WIll it help if you didn't soak in soda ash pre-dyeing?

Do not wash your tie-dyes if you have not yet used soda ash. (See my page, "What is soda ash, and what's it for in dyeing?".) Soda ash or washing soda in the wash will be too little, too late: the soda ash will be too diluted by the amount of water in the wash load to be able to produce the high pH needed to fix the dye (unless you use a large amount), and the water in the first wash will wash out a fair amount of the dye before the soda ash in it has a chance to fix the dye, so your tie-dye pattern will be considerably muted.

Instead, if you have forgotten to presoak your stuff in soda ash before applying dye, and if you did not add soda ash directly to your bottles of dye (another method that some prefer), you will need to add the soda ash before you do your first rinse. Don't forget to allow plenty of time for the dye to react with the fabric, in a warm place, after you add the soda ash.

The best method for after-fixing would be to pour a strong soda ash mixture (one cup of soda ash per gallon) over your tie-dyes before you even untie them. This will minimize the risk of blurring your pattern, though it may dilute the colors somewhat. After pouring the soda ash over them, wrap each shirt (or whatever you are dyeing) in a plastic bag to keep it moist, then leave the bags in a warm place overnight. This is when the dye molecules react with the fiber in the fabric, forming a chemical bond to make the colors permanent. The next day, you can rinse out your tie-dyes. Start with a cool-water rinse to remove the soda ash, as usual, then wash two or three times in the hottest water available, preferably over 140°F, to remove all of the unattached dye.

Note that this method works only for fiber reactive dyes, such as Procion dyes. Do not use soda ash to fix Rit all-purpose dye, and do not ever wash Rit-dyed items in hot water, because Rit dye is relatively poorly washfast, and will wash out badly in hot water. Always use fiber reactive dyes for doing tie-dye.

If you have already unwrapped your dyed items, then you can put your soda ash solution in a sprayer bottle, to spray an even layer of soda ash over the whole piece. You will get some smearing of the dye, but not as bad as you will get if you wash your stuff before applying soda ash.

Another method is to unwrap your tie-dyes and let them dry completely, then carefully paint on a different fixative, sodium silicate. This method is usually used only for dye painting. See "Sodium silicate as a fixative for dyeing".

Posted: Saturday - July 06, 2013 at 09:59 AM          

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