How to Dye Clothes in the Washing Machine

Over the years, we have experimented with many different methods of dying fabric. All of which yielded beautiful results, but usually required a decent amount of work leading up to and during the dying process.

But what if you want a nice all over dye without the fuss?

I knew that RIT dye could be used in the washing machine but I had never tried it for myself, until today, and I am so glad that I did.

The overall color was brilliantly saturated, and even. So if you are looking for a no mess dye method, I would highly recommend dying clothes in the washing machine.


Top loader - Add white wash


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Step 1- Pre-soak the Fabric

Make sure that there are no visible stains on your fabric, and if it has never been washed before, make sure you do so to remove any finishes that could keep the dye from absorbing into the fibers.

For a front-loading machine wet your fabric in the sink beforehand and then add it to your machine.

For a top loader, start the wash cycle and wait until the drum starts filling with water. Add your fabric and make sure nothing is knotted up together. There should be enough water in the machine for the fabric to move freely.

When you are dying, make sure to use the hottest water that your fabric can handle. You want the wash cycle to be at least 30 minutes but the longer the better.

If you are dying something really large like sheets or draperies, you should check the washing machine several times throughout the cycle to untangle the material so it will dye evenly.

Step 2 – Add the Dye

For liquid fabric dye, shake the bottle and pour it into the machine.

If you are using the powder dye, mix it in a bowl with several cups of hot water until the powder is fully dissolved and there are no clumps before pouring it into the machine.

For a front loader, simply add everything to the dispenser. For a top loading machine, pour the dye around the drum after the water has completely filled, right in the beginning of the agitation part of the cycle.

Depending on the material you are using, you are going to want to add one cup of either salt or vinegar to your dye bath and also a squirt of dish detergent which will help the dye spread evenly.

For the best results, you are going to want to apply rit color stay fixative before the final rinse cycle.

So as a recap, and feel free to screenshot this part of the video to refer back to, you are going to need your dye, salt or vinegar depending on what material you are using, a small squirt of dish soap, and RIT color fixative.

Step 3 – Finishing Touches

Run a rinse and spin cycle with cold water and then dry your fabric like normal.

To wash your machine after you dye your fabric, wipe out the inside of the drum and lid. Pour some bleach into the internal dispenser, add your detergent and run a hot water cycle with a few old towels.

We have a ton of dye tutorials including several Q&A’s so if you are unsure of what dye to use, or you don’t know whether to use vinegar or salt, or maybe an all over dye like what we are doing here is not your desired look go check out our other dye tutorials.

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