How to Dye Cotton Fabric

    by V. L. Hamlin

    About the Author

    V. L. Hamlin is a freelance writer residing in upstate New York. She graduated from the State University of New York at Delhi in 2000 with a liberal arts degree and concentrated studies in literature and psychology. She has been writing online since 2006 and is currently a freelance writer for Associated Content and Demand Media.


    It's easy to dye cotton fabric -- and items made from cotton fabric -- any color you desire at home. When you dye your own fabric, you can create a perfect match for upholstery, bedding or garments. All you need is a sink or a large bucket and some dye to get started. For the best results, dye the fabric a darker or bolder color that its existing hue, and use only 100 percent cotton.

    Things You'll Need

    • 1 package of fabric dye powder
    • Bucket or sink
    • Old spoon
    • Rubber gloves
    • Apron

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    Pour three gallons of hot water into the sink or a large bucket.

    Place the fabric into the hot water and soak thoroughly. Then remove the fabric and squeeze out any excess water.

    Put rubber gloves, old clothes and an apron on. Mix the dye powder with 2 cups of hot water, then add the solution to the bucket of hot water.

    Place the fabric back into the water, and stir it around until it's saturated. Stir in an up and down motion to make sure the dye is equally distributed over the fabric. Leave the fabric to soak for up to an hour, depending on how intense you want the final shade to be.

    Rinse the fabric with warm water to remove the excess dye. Rinse again with cooler water until the water runs clear.

    Hang the fabric on the line to dry or place it in the dryer immediately on low heat.

    • For more intense results, add 1 cup of salt to the dye bath.
    • Try combining different dye colors together to create a custom shade.
    • Read the dye manufacturer's instructions for the best methods to use.
    • When using chemical dyes, work in a well ventilated area.