How to Cold Water Dye Clothes

Man dyeing clothes


Mubariz Khan / EyeEm / Getty Images

 Let's review how to cold water dye clothes. Dying a piece of clothing can put a whole new spin on your look. Renew some of your clothes with fresh, vibrant color, or dye some whites to give them more flavor. Simply follow these step-by-step instructions.

  • 01 of 03

    What You Will Need

    How to Dye Clothing in Cold Water
    Mix the dye with water.
    • Fiber reactive dye—This is a cold water dye that can be found in most stores, or online. Learn more about fiber reactive dyes and where to find them.
    • A garment that needs to be dyed—For cold water dye, you will need to use a cellulose (plant) fiber, or silk.
    • Large Bowl

    Gather your supplies, and you're ready to get started.

  • 02 of 03

    Adding Salt

    How to Dye Clothing in Cold Water
    Add salt to the bowl.

    In a small bowl, add the dye to the amount of water that the dye package calls for. It is important to follow these measurements. Fill a large bowl with water. This bowl needs to be large enough for your clothing to fit in it and move around freely.

    Many cold water dyes will also instruct you to add salt to the large bowl. Follow all of the correct measurements to ensure that your dye is strong enough to dye your clothing.

    Once your vat is prepared with the salt, add the dye mixture from the smaller bowl. Stir until the large bowl is full of your brightly colored mixture.

    Next, soak the clothing.

  • 03 of 03

    Soak and Wash

    Cold Water Dying
    Let the garment soak.

    Put the fabric in the water and stir slowly. Let it sit according to the directions on your particular dye package. Most dyes will advise you to agitate the clothing every now and then. This is to keep the dye moving throughout the fibers.

    When your clothing is done soaking, you'll need to rinse it in the bathtub until the water runs clear. Run the clothing through the washer and dryer on its own. Running it through with other clothing the first time means that it could potentially bleed.

    Avoid Mud Colors

    Mixing some colors will produce a murky brown. To prevent getting a brown color, avoid mixing these dye and clothing colors.

    • Red and Green
    • Orange and Blue
    • Yellow and Purple

    Cold water dying methods are also used in tie-dye.