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Which Dye for Which Fibres?

Fabric for dyeingHave you ever been disappointed by the results of the washing machine dyes you find at the supermarket? The zip or the stitching didn’t take the dye colour? This is why it is important to know the fibre content and which dyes to use to get an even colour which stays wash fast.

Here we include a listing of the dyes available from this website, and the fibre they have been formulated to dye.

Acid, Procion MX and Disperse Dyes are synthetic dyes. If you use the same method (using careful measurements) you should be able to repeat the same colour results.

Repeating the colour result from Indigo and Natural Dyes is less reliable but can be very exciting. We recommend experimentation and note keeping!



Hot Water Dye set with Citric Acid

Find out more about Acid Dyes


Protein fibres including:

  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Alpaca (hair)
  • Cashmere (hair)
  • Mohair/Angora (hair)
  • Camel (hair)
  • Yak (hair)
  • Soya Bean
  • Casein (Milk Protein)


(also known as Fibre Reactive Dyes)

Cold Water Dye set with Soda Ash and Salt

Find out more about Procion MX Dyes

(Wool & Silk can be dyed with Procion MX dyes and need Glauber Salts & Synthrapol)

Cellulose fibres including:

  • Cotton
  • Bamboo
  • Flax/Linen
  • Tencel
  • Viscose
  • Silk
  • Paper


Find our more about Disperse Dyes

Hot Water Dye: 85ºC for Acetate and 95-100ºC for other synthetics. Polyester needs hotter for longer so may only achieve pastels. Use Heat Transfer paints to achieve full colour on polyester


Use Dispersing Agent to stop dye particles from sticking together

Synthetic fibres including:

  • Nylon
  • Cellulose Acetate
  • Vilene
  • PVC
  • Plastics
  • Polyester


Find our more about using Mordants with Natural Dyes

Water Temperature varies. Cotton and other cellulose fibres need preparation with Aluminium Acetate or Aluminium Lactate. Use a mordant on wool and silk to make wash fast and to tint colours. Natural dyes bond effectively to fibres that have been mordanted with Alum

Natural fibres and nylon




Find out more about Indigo Dyeing

Water Temperature: 50ºC Spectralite and Soda Ash required for dye vat. Test pH with indicator paper, pH of 9 for protein fibres and pH of 11 for cellulose fibres. Adjust pH with Soda Ash

All fibres

Prepared for Dyeing?

Before dyeing, it is important to check whether the item is ‘Prepared for Dyeing’ (PFD) or requires scouring to remove any grease, oil or starch. Run a few droplets of cold water onto the fabric. If they soak in quickly, no scour is necessary. To remove starches, size and oils, add 5ml of Synthrapol (a non-ionic detergent) along with 2-3 litres of water for each 100g of material. Stir gently over a 15 min period, and then rinse thoroughly in warm water. It is possible to use household detergent, but the alkaline residue may affect the final colour or wash fastness.

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