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Fabric dye is one of the easiest ways to completely transform a project—be it table napkins for DIY wedding decor, refreshing a faded garment, or crafting a trendy tie-dye T-shirt. We tested and researched top fabric dyes to find the best concoctions for different fabric types and techniques, carefully considering saturation quality and project compatibility to narrow down the best ones. Our top pick, Rit Liquid Dye is the most universal fabric dye out there, as it works well with a variety of materials (including synthetic fabrics, plus paper, cork, and wood).
Here are the best fabric dyes.
Best Overall: Rit Liquid Dye
Compatible with most fabrics, including synthetic blends
Easy to use and blend with other colors
You can use it for a variety of projects, including tie-dye
The saturation isn’t great on synthetic fabrics
Rit Liquid Dye is the one formula we reach for over and over again. It has an excellent formula that works well on virtually any fabric, including some synthetic blends. And, it is made for a variety of projects, including solid dye jobs, tie-dye, and some traditional techniques such as shibori. We also love this fabric dye because it is super easy to mix and blend with other fabrics for more customization. Plus, Rit has over 1,000 dye recipes, making it even easier to get the exact shade you’re going for. Its only downfall is the vibrancy on some synthetic fabrics, as this dye doesn’t saturate to its fullest potential on fabrics with more than 35 percent polyester.
Best for Polyester: Jacquard iDye Fabric Dye Natural, Poly and Nylon Fabrics
Boasts a mess-free take on fabric dyeing
Can refresh faded swimsuits
Easy to use
Washing machine required for the best results
When dyeing polyester, you want a fabric dye that takes well to the fabric and stays vibrant no matter how much you wash it. We love the Jacquard iDye Fabric Dye for poly and nylon because it gives even coverage throughout, is easy to use, and is probably the least messy way to dye fabric. It’s a great choice for synthetic garments—including swimsuits—that need a nice refresh.
Best for Cotton: Dylon All-in-1 Fabric Dye
50 percent recycled plastic pods
Washing machine required for best results
Dyeing cotton requires a specific fabric dye made for highly saturated pigment. We are big fans of the Dylon All-in-1 Fabric Dye because it’s an easy-to-use pod that you toss in the washing machine, and it delivers professional-worthy results. In addition to being convenient and easy, the pods are also eco-friendly and made from 50 percent recycled plastic. In addition to cotton, you can also dye linen for similar, deeply saturated results.
Best for Rayon: Rit All Purpose Powder Dye
No chemical smell
Also works on natural fibers
Can be used for tie-dye
Washing machine friendly
Not compatible with all fabric types
This powdered dye from Rit is a great choice for rayon fabrics, as it boasts bold and richly pigmented hues that are easy to customize. While it can get a little messy without a washing machine and isn’t compatible with all projects, we love to use this on our tie-dye projects for more unique and precise designs. It’s also a great choice for those who are more sensitive to the smell of fabric dye, as this one doesn’t have a strong scent. We find that this fabric dye colors rayon fabrics best, giving them a rich and vibrant color that is accurate when dry.
Best for Silk: Jacquard Acid Dye
Super saturated color
Use to paint or print on fabric too
Works well with natural fiber yarns
Dye can clump up if the water isn’t hot enough
At first thought, dying silk seems stressful. But, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think—you just need a high-quality fabric dye that is made specifically for the fabric type. We swear by Jacquard Acid Dyes for silk dying small and large projects as the pigments are always vibrant and beautiful with an even application. The coolest thing about this dye is that it is easy to use for specific dying techniques, like painting or printing patterns on fabric, in addition to yielding beautiful solid hues. On top of that, this is a great dye to use on natural fiber yarns, too.
Best for Synthetic Fabrics: Rit DyeMore Synthetic Fabric Dye
Works on other synthetic mediums
Formulated specifically for synthetic fabric
Not washing machine safe
Dying synthetic fabrics calls for a formula that is made specifically with the fabric type in mind, or else you could end up with a lackluster dye job. This formula from Rit boasts everything we love about the Rit Liquid Dye, but is made for fabrics with 35 percent or more polyester, acrylic, acetate, or nylon. The non-toxic fabric dye is a liquid base that is easy to use, compatible with a host of project ideas, and works well on other objects like wigs, faux fur, 3D-printed objects, and plastic items in addition to synthetic fabrics. That being said, the dye can’t be used in a washing machine, so it might not be ideal for some preferences.
Best for Tie-Dye: Tulip Tie Dye Party Kit
All supplies included
Includes 14 colors
Doesn't dye as many items as promised
For fun and easy tie-dye projects, the Tulip Tie-Dye Party Kit is an excellent choice. We’ve purchased this kit several times and used it for at-home projects, birthday party activities, and more. This is our favorite kit because it comes in a portable tub that makes it easy and convenient to take on the go and store unused dyes after each project. Plus, the dye is vibrant, the squeeze bottles make it easy to get an accurate design, and the kit has all the supplies necessary for tie-dyeing. The kit says it makes up to 32 items but, in our experience, we have found that isn’t the case, especially if you are dyeing bulkier items like sweatshirts.
Best Natural : Fiber Culture Natural Dye Kit
Eco-friendly and all-natural mixtures
Detailed instruction manual
Teaches traditional dying techniques
Only sustainable for plant-based products
In our opinion, one of the coolest things about fabric dye is that scientists can trace the practice back to the New Stone Age—aka, somewhere around 10,200 BC. For centuries, humans have used natural pigments to color fabric, and this kit helps the modern maker learn more about the practice. This kit contains six stunning all-natural and eco-friendly pigments for beautifully saturated dye jobs. It also comes with a detailed instruction manual that walks you through the process of using natural pigments to dye fabric with tons of space to add your own notes and dye recipes. With that said, this particular kit is only compatible with plant-based fabrics and yarns. For other natural materials—such as wool, alpaca, angora, cashmere, and mohair—the Fiber Culture carries a Natural Dye Kit for Protein Fibers.
What to Look for in Fabric Dyes
“It’s important to make sure you purchase the correct dye for the fabric you are working with,” says Anna Olsen, a crafted content trend at JOANN. Choosing a dye type that is compatible with your fabric type will help you achieve the best results. When selecting a fabric dye, Olsen says it’s also important to consider your project, as different dye types work better with different techniques. “Ensure the dye you are using is best suited for the project you are working on,” she explains.
“If you are dyeing with children or in a poorly ventilated area, you will want to consider what chemicals are in or need to be added to the dye you are using,” Olsen says. Otherwise, tie-dying can pose potential hazards to children when there's no adult supervision.
Saturation and Vibrancy
Olsen also recommends considering how vibrant you want the color saturation to be and choosing a dye based on its saturation. For the most vibrant and saturated projects, it’s best to dye a natural fiber with a compatible dye type.
Which fabric dyes are the most permanent?
According to Olsen, fabric reactive dye—such as the Jacquard Procion MX Fiber Reactive Concentrated Powder Dye—is the most permanent. “This dye is best for natural materials such as cotton and linens,” she explains.
Which fabric absorbs dye the best?
“There are different dyes for different fabric types, but natural fiber fabrics [such as cotton, linen, or silk] will dye the best overall,” says Olsen.
Which fabric dyeing procedure yields the best results?
The best fabric dyeing procedure depends on the project, fabric, and choice of fabric dye. For example, if you want a more fully saturated result, Jacquard Acid Dyes on silk, wool, linen, or cotton can yield the best results. Or, if you have a tie-dye project in mind, a kit with individual application bottles helps you achieve the look you want. For the best dye job, always choose a fabric dye designed with your fabric type in mind and follow the instructions on the box.
Why Trust The Spruce Crafts?
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University. As part of her education, Jessie studied textiles and traditional fabric dyeing techniques, which she now applies to her own fabric dyeing projects. She’s a big fan of tie-dye and has used fabric dye to refresh some old, faded garments in her wardrobe, too. When researching the best fabric dyes, Jessie considered the various types of fabric dyes, the importance of fabric type when dyeing, and the different techniques required for transforming textiles with dye. She also looked at her own stash of fabric dyes and considered how well they hold up long after the dye project concludes. As a result, Jessie curated a list of the best fabric dyes for different fabric types and purposes.