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Setting Dye on Clothing and Fabric

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Setting Clothing Dye

Whether your clothes are brand new or you have done some dyeing, it is important to set the color. This guide is about setting clothing dye.


Solutions: Setting Dye on Clothing and Fabric

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Tip: Setting Color in Cloth

Use 2 Tbsp. turpentine and 1 small handful of salt. Pour boiling water over this mixture. Put garment or cloth in and saturate. Let it soak until the water gets cold.

By Anne from Fernley, NV

Tip: Salt for Setting Dark Clothing

When you wash dark clothes for the first time - use cold water and put salt in the water. The salt helps set the color. When I want to brighten dark clothes after they have been washed several times, I repeat the procedure (salt in cold water when washing).


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Here are questions related to Setting Dye on Clothing and Fabric.

Question: Keeping Color From Bleeding When Washing Clothing

Does anyone know how to stop color bleeding from clothes when washing them. Is there any way to stabilize the colored fabric so it will no longer run? Hoping someone has answer for me and thanks in advance if you do.

Dinnie from Tampa


Most Recent Answer

By Gram 2 (Guest Post)12/14/2008

By soaking in salt water or vinager will it keep the fabric color from rubbing off on to another color while you are wearing it?

Question: Sheets Transferring Dye to Skin

I brought a pair of flannelette sheets, they have been washed twice.
When you sweat at night the dye comes out on your skin. Any idea how to stop it?

By Val S from Deception Bay, Qld


Most Recent Answer

By Louise B. [5]06/14/2013

There is no need to return the sheets. Do as others have suggested and wash them in hot water with vinegar. I would add several cups, because when people dye things, they use a ratio of at least one cup of vinegar to 8 cups of water. You can also purchase products to set dye where you find fabric dyes. You may have to do the vinegar wash a couple of times.

Question: Setting Dye in Fabric

Many people recommend either vinegar or salt, but no one ever says "how much" to put in a washer load or even in a big pot. Will some one please give us that information in a usable form? Do you put in a cup or a whole gallon bottle of vinegar or a whole box of salt?

By Karahana

Most Recent Answer

By Brett DiCaporato02/08/2015

I have been told by a seamstress friend that vinegar to fix dye is probably and old housewives tale, from the days when it was more often used to remove excess indigo dye when they used acid based dyes. Acid based dyes were not commonly used in cotton materials, including denim jeans, so would not help with cotton.
She also says that the myth that common salt can help to set dye may have had some truth in the old days, but is not always 100% successful.

Question: Red Dye in Polyester Coat Lining Bleeding

I've just bought a red wool and cashmere coat, with a patterned, red polyester lining. I didn't notice the disclaimer label, when I bought it, stating you should not get it moist or damp, avoid contact with light fabrics, upholstery, or accessories. What can I do to prevent it bleeding? I really like the coat.

By Rosemary from Nottingham, UK

Most Recent Answer

By junedidesi11/09/2013

I would ask a dry cleaner. Perhaps having it dry cleaned could help.

Question: Setting the Dye When Making Tie-dye Clothing

Does anyone know the best way to keep the dye set after doing home Tie-dye t-shirts? I've heard something about salt and something about vinegar. Any other ideas? If using salt or vinegar, how do I use them?

Thanks for input!
Rebecca from IA

Most Recent Answer

By April [185]04/12/2008

In home-ec (30 years ago and then some) we were taught to use salt and vinegar in a cold rinse cycle then lay flat to dry after dying. After than, always wash in cold.

Question: Setting the Dye in Acrylic and Wool Yarn

I'm knitting an afghan for my grandson who's going to Michigan State. The colors are dark green and white. The yarn is 75% acrylic and 25% wool. Is there anything I can do before I give it to him to prevent the dark green from running?

By Betty

Most Recent Answer

By donnatritz200107/23/2014

I doubt you have to do anything in particular. With acrylic yarn the color is actually spun into the fabric - I believe it is part of the chemical process (ie they don't make the yarn & then dye it). I've never had a problem with color drift on any man made yarn & I doubt the 25% wool would change that. The mostly acrylic with some wool yarns I've used have generally pretty much acted like 100% acrylic yarns. You could try washing it in cold water with salt or vinegar & then machine drying as always before you give it to him.

Question: Preventing Clothing Dye from Running

How do you keep the colour in the shirt when you wash it? Is there something you can spray on it to hold it in the fabric?

By Ellen S

Most Recent Answer

By Louise B. [5]07/23/2013

Also, wash it in cold water; that helps prevent colors running, although sometimes I have found that there is nothing to be done!

Question: Setting Fabric Dye

I purchased a few hand, tie-dyed tablecloths in China and they bleed very badly! They were done in a small village. How can I set the dye in such a large pieces of fabric. Some are a dark blue and another is orange.

People I know that have purchased them, say the color washes out very dramatically, so they must be washed alone, separately. They do, however, maintain the dark blue color along with the lighter pattern (that is "tied in") remaining as well.

Also, I have a front loading machine that doesn't use a lot of water. Is there a way to set the dye in a large tub or large stainless steel sink? Then wash it in the front loading machine. Or, do I have to go to a laundromat and use a tub machine that fills with a large quantity of water.

By Jan D from St. Paul, MN

Most Recent Answer

By Catherine [7]03/19/2013

The dye is probably indigo same dying as for the jeans. You can try to soak your tablecloth in white vinegar when you rinse it. Hope this helps.

Question: Setting Dye in Silk Fabric

How do you set dye in a silk garment? I would like to use old thin silk blouses to make a quilt. Some of them just run and run every time I wash them. What kind of dye does the manufacturers use for these silks? I have tried white vinegar, but it didn't work. Will the dryer or ironing help set it?

By Gorius from Gilroy, CA

Most Recent Answer

By DeBushe [18]07/27/2009

Update on original question: These are handkerchief silk garments that are commercially dyed. I have no idea what they use for dye. Do you mean that I should use the vinegar/water recipe and heat the water with the garment in the water? I tried soaking one of them in straight vinegar overnight, but only got pink vinegar. Rinsed several times after the vinegar, but it still bleeds.

Question: Setting the Dye In New Clothes

How do I set the dye for my new pants that are blue? A friend bought the same outfit and said when she rinsed the pants there was alot of color in the water. Should I do the top also, it is shaded in blue colors?

Thank you,

Most Recent Answer

By Ann (Guest Post)07/27/2005

I usually wash all of my new clothes in salt. I add about 1/2 box of table salt to the washer, use cold water and let it run through the cycle. I usually wash several items at the same time and have had no problems. I then rewash the item with other clothes using Tide.

Question: Setting Fabric Dye

My daughter bought a material school bag from a surf shop. It is yellow. The problem is that from sweating, the yellow from the straps has come onto her white school shirt. How will I stop the yellow dye from the bag staining her shirt?

By Kat

Most Recent Answer

By Loth [1]03/04/2015

Check this out:
and read the reviews! I have not used this product but it sounds like it might work. I have used the old vinegar and salt tricks in the past... worked some time, not so much other times. The kind of fabric matters I think. Good luck!

Question: Setting the Dye in an Old Sweater

I received an old sweater that was my grandfather's. It was originally white and his mother dyed it red, I'm sure with some kind of cheap home-dyeing kit, maybe Rit. I washed the sweater because it was dusty and it's bled and bled red dye everywhere. I've read about soaking in salt; does that actually work? Any other tips for setting the dye? I'm willing to do some experimenting. The sweater isn't particularly beautiful or complicated work, so it's more of a sentiment thing. Any help is appreciated!


Most Recent Answer

By Louise B. [5]11/08/2014

Contact the Rit company for information. i am sure they would have a website. You may be able to find info just by googling "setting dye".

Question: Keeping Red Emblem from Bleeding Onto White Tunic

Person dressed as a knight wearing a white tunic with a red cross on the chest.My brother bought a white cotton tunic with a red cotton cross stitched on it. Is there any way to wash it without the red bleeding on the white?

By N.Hale

Most Recent Answer

By webstermk09/28/2013

Wash it in cold water.

Question: Setting the Color of Organic Dye

I made an organic dye using flowers, but the color changes when i wash using detergent. How do I make the color permanent? The color of the dye originally was light red, but when I wash it in detergent, it turns blue. If I soak it in vinegar, it turns back to the original color again. How do I let the original color stay even when washing? Please help. Thanks

By Marie from Philippines

Most Recent Answer

By Mary Lou [14]09/23/2013

You need to use what is known as a mordant with natural dyes. The one I use is washing soda. After dyeing, rinse the fabric in a solution of water and washing soda. Make the dye solution a little stronger or brighter than you actually want. Google natural dyeing to get more.

Question: Tie Dyeing a Swimsuit

I used Jacquard brand of tie dye for my swimming suit. I've had it sitting for 15 hours. I tried to rinse a small part of it and it seems the dye is coming right out. Is there something I didn't do right? Should I use salt or vinegar when I rinse? Please help!

By Amy

Most Recent Answer

By MissLynda07/31/2013

Most of the Jacquard brand of dyes require heat or chemical setting. Check the package directions. Some color will come out even after treatment. It may be as simple as putting the suit in the dryer to heat treat it. Also be aware not all dyes work on all fabrics.

Question: Setting Fabric Dye

What can I use to set the dye on a purchased skirt so I can wash it safely?

By Patty

Most Recent Answer

By StellaBell [146]05/02/2013

I've heard that soaking it in cold water and salt works. Also I've heard the same for 1 cup of vinegar in cold water. But these methods may not work on cottons.

Rit sells a dye fixative. Maybe try the salt or vinegar, if the fabric still bleeds look into getting a dye fixative.

Question: Stabilising Dye in Clothing

I recently bought a red cardigan and when I wore it, it transferred the red dye onto my white t-shirt. I have managed to remove the red dye from the t- shirt, but I am wondering is there a way I can stabilise the dye in the cardigan to prevent it transferring to my other clothing when worn together.

By yvie

Most Recent Answer

By Chris P.04/16/2013

Add 1 cup salt to a washer full of cold water, soak item by itself overnight, then wash by itself. Should not "bleed" color after that.

Question: Setting Clothing Dye

My niece bought me a homemade swimsuit cover from Cuba. It's red with cream knit edging. When I put it on the red stained my skin right away. What can I do to stop the red from going on to my skin? It's a beautiful top and I don't want to ruin it. Please help.

By Kristen

Most Recent Answer

By Marty Dick [152]02/03/2012

I always use a cold water and salt rinse. I am 75 and when I was a little kid not all "yard goods" were color fast so Mama always rinsed new fabric in cold salt water to set the dye. You can also use cold water and vinegar.

Question: Setting Colors in Clothing So They Don't Bleed

Is there anything you can use before washing red clothing so it will not bleed afterward?

By Lisa from Grand Rapids, MN

Most Recent Answer

By Ellen [8]03/04/2010

Put the item(s) in the dryer for a cycle-the heat should help set the color. Also, when you wash the item, use cold water and add about a half a cup of salt to the water. Red is a toughie though, there are no guarantees-sorry.

Question: Setting the Colors on Tie-Died Shirts

My grandchildren have already tie-died some cotton shirts. They are dry. Now, what do I soak them in to set the colors? I remember something about using salt in solution, but have no idea how much to use or if there is something better to soak them in.

Thanks for any advice.

Most Recent Answer

By Jill [2]07/15/2005

I am a quilter and we set dark colors with a vinegar rinse. Use white vinegar, a cup per gallon cool water, soak each shirt 15 minutes, than rinse out by hand and dry out of sun. Sun will bleach any color. I hang them over a sink on a plastic hanger after ringing them out by hand and flattening into shape again.

Question: Fabric Dye in Sheets Gets Blotchy When Washed

Every time I buy new sheets they go patchy in the first few washes and even change color. I have had 2 sets of sheets that were a duck egg green that changed to more of a blue after washing. I follow all the instructions, cold water wash and dissolve wash powered before adding sheets. I have hard water and no access to hot water for my washing machine just cold.

By Sandra

Question: Setting Fabric Dye

How to set the dye in a new handmade quilt?

By Bea from Reston, MB

Question: Preventing Color Bleeding

How do I prevent black bleeding into white on new black and white striped dress?

By Amanda E from Orange Park, FL

Question: Jacket Dye Bleeding on Skin

I have a jean sweat jacket and the blue dye got all over me. It's new, but I washed it once. How can I stop the dye from coming out?

By Jillian

Question: Setting Natural Plant Clothing Dye

How do I set berry dyed fabric? I used gooseberry pulp after making jelly.

By Aris

Question: Setting Fabric Dye

The colour of my new tie dye dress bleeds on my skin, how do I fix it?

By Franke