I want to get the deepest darkest black I can get

Name: Mike


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Procion MX Dye

ideal for cotton, rayon, linen, and silk

When mixed with soda ash, Procion dyes are permanent, colorfast, and very washable. You can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues.


Dylon permanent fabric dye 1.75 oz black/velvet black

Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye

Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye is a permanent dye that gives vibrant colors that won't run or wash out. Specially designed for use by hand in warm water. One pack dyes half a pound of cotton fabric.


Tulip one step fashion dye black

Tulip One Step Fashion Dye

Tulip One Step Fashion Dyes contain the same excellent type of dye as Procion MX, with the auxiliary chemicals already mixed in. All you have to do is add cold water. These permanent dyes are available in 10 great colors and mixable for custom colors.


Country: United States
Message: Hello,
I read a lot of your website and you seem to know a lot about dying clothes.  I was wondering if you could help me out with two things. I have a couple 100% cotton shirts that I want to dye black. I used RIT dye on the one shirt and it came out grayish purple, not black. I read here that RIT dye is not ideal. I want to get the deepest darkest black I can get, what is the best dye to use to dye dark black and what is the best dye process to do to get the darkest black?

You're right, all-purpose dye, such as Rit, is not very satisfactory for dyeing cotton black. The colors tend to be poor, and they fade quickly. A number of other people have written me over the years, telling me about getting a grayish-purple when they had selected a package of Rit dye labeled 'black'. 

Instead, I recommend that you use a black fiber reactive dye, either a Procion MX dye, or Dylon Permanent fabric dye. (Don't confuse Dylon Permanent with Dylon Cold or Dylon Multi-Purpose, which are different lines of dye.) The Dylon dye costs more per garment, but can be found in some local crafts or sewing stores. The Procion dye is sometimes available in crafts stores, but usually must be mail-ordered. Another good brand, Tulip, can be found in some crafts stores.

For a perfectly solid color, it's best to do your dyeing in the washing machine. Before dyeing clothing, always pre-wash it in the hottest water it can tolerate, preferably 140°F (check the temperature of your tap water with an immersible thermometer), using detergent plus some soda ash (or washing soda) for extra cleaning power. To find reliable recipes for dyeing with Procion MX dye in the washing machine, see "How can I dye clothing or fabric in the washing machine?". You can also use Procion MX dye in a plastic bucket, if you are willing to stir it enough to make the color even.

Don't use Dylon Permanent dyes or Tulip dyes in the washing machine; their added ingredients are not measured properly for washing machine use. (Dylon Machine dye is fine in the washing machine, but it's not available in the US.) For each of these brands of dye, carefully follow the instructions that come with them. Dylon Permanent fabric dye can be used in a plastic bucket with hot water. The Dylon Permanent black is a very satisfactory and long-lasting black, and will last as long as Procion MX dye, if the directions on the package are followed closely. Both Procion MX dye and the dyes in Dylon Permanent and Tulip dye are fiber reactive dyes, so they are dramatically superior to any all-purpose dye.

An important point in dyeing anything black is to use enough dye. Use two to four times as much dye for black as you would use for another color. Even Rit might give you a good black if you used four or five packets of dye, instead of one, if you also simmered the clothing with the dye on the stovetop, since Rit is a hot water dye. 

The amount of dye in the Dylon Permanent Black dye package is sufficient to dye half a pound (220 grams) of dry fabric. Weigh your shirt on a kitchen scale, or on a scale at the post office or grocery store. If it weighs one pound, you will need two packets of Dylon Permanent dye. If it weights two pounds, you will need four packets. Multiply the amount of water and anything you have to add by the same number.

Dyeing in the washing machine takes a larger amount of dye powder than dyeing in a bucket, but Procion MX dye is economical when ordered in bulk (jars of two ounces or larger); it costs much less per garment than Dylon, Tulip, or Rit dye. You'll also need salt for dyeing in the washing machine, and soda ash or washing soda to fix the Procion dye to the fabric.

One last thing, I should warn you that the stitching that holds your shirts together is almost certainly made of polyester, which will not take the dye. The polyester thread always stays the original color, when you dye clothing that is not specially marked as being sewn with cotton thread.

My other question I have is that I have a one size fits all white hat that is 97% cotton 3% spandex. I also want this the deepest black possible. Should I use the same process and dye I use for my shirts? and how would I go about washing this hat when its finished, you can't put hats in washing machines can you? Won't they ruin?

97% cotton/3% spandex is best dyed with a cool water fiber reactive dye such as Procion MX dye, exactly like your shirts. However, any stiffening chemical that has been applied will wash out. Whether this is a problem will depend on the style of the hat. It's possible you will need something the size and shape of your head to place the hat on to dry, perhaps adding laundry starch or another stiffener. (Never use starch until after you have fully completed all dyeing steps; starch creates problems when dyeing cotton.) Without knowing what style your hat is, I can't tell you whether it's likely to be necessary to get a hat professional to reblock your hat.

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Posted: Tuesday - January 19, 2010 at 08:57 AM          

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