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Dyeing Clothing in the Washing Machine

Category How To
Changing or maintaining the color of your clothes can be done simply in your washing machine, but can also create a big mess. This is a guide about dyeing clothes in the washing machine.


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November 11, 20040 found this helpful

Are your teens and preteens begging for the hottest fall look known as "dirty denim"? All you need to do to make them happy is gather these materials and follow the steps.



  1. Turn the washing machine on and let it fill with hot water. You want the water very hot, 140 F. You may need to turn your water heater to "hot" a few hours in advance to achieve this very hot temperature. If you adjust the water heater, warn all of your family members because water this hot can scald youngsters and elderly people in just a few seconds.
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  3. Add Rit Tan Powder to the water.
  4. Submerge the jeans and or other items in the mixture and soak for 10 minutes. Close the lid of the washer to maintain the hot temperature.
  5. Rinse items, wash and rinse again. You do not need to add soap.
  6. Dry in the usual manner.
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 5, this time with the Rit Tangerine Liquid to give the denim an added "dirty" look (optional).
  8. After dyeing, clean the washing machine by running it through a complete wash cycle with detergent and 1 to 2 cups of bleach.

By Kathy

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

This was a great project! Everything came out looking dirty but instead of tan I used brown!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
January 14, 2010

Why don't my clothes get dark enough when I dye them in the washer?

By Dayle from Memphis, TN

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January 14, 20100 found this helpful

Sometimes you need to use more than one box, also the water to dye ratio might be off from what is suggested on the box of RIT when done in the washing machine. Dying in you washing machine can dye your washing machine, I would suggest using a rubbermaid tub instead.

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January 14, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with more dye. The mistake I made one time was not adding the salt to aid in the dye working especially with cottons.

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January 14, 20100 found this helpful

I've tried this and found the water in the washer didn't get hot enough and didn't stay in the machine long enough (rinse cycle kicks in after 10 or 15 minutes) for dark results. You also need several packages when using the washer.

I got way better results by using a bucket with very hot water and hand stirring and leaving the cloth in for a longer time, until I was satisfied with the result (Or you shut the machine off before it goes into the rinsing cycle, until the dye is dark enough ). Hope this helps.

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January 15, 20100 found this helpful

I agree that there are probably 2 things wrong.

1. You need more dye in the washer because there is probably more water there - even on the lowest setting than 1 box or bottle of dye requires.

2. The dye doesn't stay in the washer long enough.

To correct this, set a timer for slightly less time than the longest wash cycle. For example, if your longest cycle is 15 minutes, set the timer for 12 minutes.

Then the timer goes off, turn the washer off and reset it back to 15 minutes. You might have to do this 3 or 4 times.

Just be sure to reset it each time before the washer starts to drain.

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January 18, 20100 found this helpful

I think using two packages of the dye is a good idea. When I dye clothes in the washer, I make sure I follow all of the instructions on the box. I also mix the dye in a disposable cup with some water before I put it into the washer. Then after it is all done, I leave the items in the washer and wash them as I would normally do (except without soap), using cold water and on a regular cycle. I think this helps to set the color, and it also helps get rid of any dye that may be left in the washer. Good luck!

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January 18, 20100 found this helpful

The best way to dye clothes the colour you want is to find a big pot, fill it with water and boil the dye and clothes together on the stove until the desired colour is reached.

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February 3, 20110 found this helpful

The thing I want to dye can't be soaked in hot water because I don't want it to shrink. So, will RIT work in cold water?

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October 30, 20110 found this helpful

I don't know about the quality of other dyes, but I was not impressed with RIT. The colour on the box isn't even remotely what you will get. Their "Dark Green" is some wacky bluish greyish green, and this was after using two packs, salt and boiling water and soaking/stirring for two hours (the fabric was under 3 meters and an average weight cotton blend). Even their kelly green lacks intensity. I guess this is why RIT doesn't provide fabric swatches to craft stores - you would then know how crappy it would turn out and not buy it. I think the only thing this dye is good for is renewing the intensity of faded black clothing. That I've done and been happy with the results.

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0 found this helpful
July 19, 2010

I have a large bright yellow bathroom rug that I'd like to dye, but don't know how to go about it. It does not have a rubber backing. Can I dye it in the washing machine? I'd like to dye it either red or black, but I'm afraid black would turn out grey and I don't know what red would look like. Any suggestions?

By Betty

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July 19, 20100 found this helpful

Hi! I used to want to dye items like curtains, etc.etc.etc. The only problem with that is that the color fades each time you wash it. I dyed white blankets blue, which were very pretty but after a time they were almost back to white.

If you dye your rug red you would probably end up with an orange color before or even after washing.

If you want to dye something you can do it in the washing machine. Must have very hot water!

Good luck!

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

If it comes out the color you want, when rinsing, use about a cup of salt to set the color.

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

Before you dye your rug, you need to know what the rug is made out of. Cotton will take a dye quite nicely however anything synthetic may not. Many rugs made for bathroom use are not made with materials that will take a dye so that they are stain resistant. The other thing to consider is after dying the rug, be sure to rinse (and rinse, and rinse, and rinse) all the excess dye out of it otherwise the color will transfer to the floor underneath (the minor amount of moisture in the air of the bathroom will cause the dye to wick to the floor tile).

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July 25, 20100 found this helpful

I have re-dyed a small bathroom rug by putting fabric paint and water into a spray bottle and spraying the rug. I would guess that you might need to use white dye first to tone down the yellow. Let dry, and then attempt the color you want for the finished tone. I laid my rug outside on the grass or on a drop cloth. I diluted the fabric paint with water, it did not change the color, but allowed it to go through the spray-head on my sprayer. I let it dry in the sun. I ran the rug through a very warm dryer to set the color. I was happy with my results. I resprayed my rug when I had fading with the same color/water solution. I hope this helps you.

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September 15, 20110 found this helpful

I have a front loading washing machine. I used to dye things in a top loading one. The material in question is too large for a pot. How do you use the dye in a front loading machine? The water does not come in till all the material is in it and it is weighed and then the water comes into it.

The amount of water added depends on how much weight is in it. I cannot think of a way of doing the valances. Does anyone know how to make it work without it becoming blotchy?

By jutta

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September 16, 20110 found this helpful

If you google "Dyeing Fabric in a Front Load Washer" you will find step by step instructions for dyeing the fabric and cleaning the washer.

Good luck.

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November 15, 20130 found this helpful

All manufacturers of front loading washing machines have specific things in their manuals which they will warranty cover for.

The are very clear about NOT using dye in their product. They cannot assure you that your next load will not have residue as you cannot fill the washer with bleach water entirely to cleanse the machine.

Contacting one of the companies will get you the standard information they have their people tell you: that you cannot safely use their front loader machines for anything other than what is listed.

So, do it in a kettle on the stove top or beg a friend who has a top loader. Friends pay me to dye what they need. I have a top loader. The package of dye depends on a full washer load of water.

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