I would like to dye an off-white rayon jacket white
Message: I would like to dye an off-white rayon jacket white. About the only thing available to me for use is rit dye. Please help. Thank you.
Is your rayon jacket washable? You will have to thoroughly wash it before you attempt to use any sort of dye, as, otherwise, invisible stains are apt to become visible upon dyeing. If the jacket is unlined, it can probably be washed, but a lined jacket is usually not washable. See "How can I dye rayon?".
I do not in general recommend dyeing rayon or cotton with Rit dye. Rit is an all-purpose dye, so it fades very quickly, and it requires hot water, preferable close to boiling, for an extensive soak; the simmering hot water is likely to shrink your clothing. The washfastness of Rit dye is poor. Garments dyed with Rit dye must be hand-washed, separately, in cool water. Higher quality fiber reactive dyes, such as Procion MX dyes, are preferable for dyeing rayon; surprisingly, the better dyes are not more expensive than Rit.
However, if you want to turn an off-white jacket to white, that is not dyeing at all. All dyes are transparent, so they cannot be used to cover up the original color of a garment. In that case, what you need to do is remove the existing color in the jacket. See "What chemicals can be used to remove or discharge dye?".
Not all dyes can be removed; you cannot tell whether yours will be removable until you try it, since there is no clue as to what dyes may have been used by the manufacturer. There are two main categories of dye removal chemicals. You can use chlorine bleach, or you can use a reducing agent such as Rit Color Remover. If you try both, be sure to wash thoroughly after the first treatment, because bleach should not be combined with the other chemicals. If you use bleach, you must neutralize the chlorine afterwards, for longest life of your garment; see "How can I neutralize the damaging effects of chlorine bleach?". Rit Color Remover and Jacquard Color Remover do not need to be neutralized after use, only washed out.
Unlike Rit dye, Rit Color Remover is an excellent product. I prefer to use it rather than chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach should never be used on synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester, and it will badly damage animal fibers such as silk or wool, but it can be used on rayon, with care. I prefer the gentler action of Rit Color Remover or Jacquard Color Remover; they are also safe for a wider range of fibers.
You will have to use the hottest water possible when using Rit Color Remover in your washing machine, and you may need to use more than one box. Rayon is a reasonably strong fiber when it is dry, but it becomes extremely weak when wet, so it is essential to be very gentle when washing or dyeing rayon. If your washing machine has a reliable delicate cycle, use it; if it does not, you'd better do this procedure by hand, because a rough washer will shred your rayon. Be sure to use good ventilation and sturdy long plastic gloves, not the disposable type, when treating your rayon garments with color remover by hand. The sulfur dioxide produced by most kinds of color remover may be problematic for people with asthma, who should either avoid its use or use both good ventilation and a good respirator with acid gas cartridges. (The same respirator should be used for any extensive work with chlorine bleach.)
After removing as much color from your jacket as possible, you can make it a brighter white by applying a fluorescent brightener. You can buy this in the form of "Optic Whitener" from Dharma Trading Company, and also in the form of Rit Whitener & Brightener. The Dharma product is probably more effective, but the Rit product can often be purchased locally.
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Posted: Wednesday - July 30, 2008 at 08:36 AM