Reactive Dyeing Instructions

Dyeing fabric is a delicate process with lots of moving parts.  To get an exact shade, you need to be pretty darn good-but practice makes perfect :)  Aside from the instructions below, one of our favorite bloggers gave it a go, and here's her experience.  Enjoy the journey!


Immersion Dyeing

Immersion or tub dyeing is submerging the fiber being dyed in the dye bath containing water, a specific amount of dye and the appropriate chemical assistants for a specific length of time. For smooth, even color, the dye bath must be stirred frequently. A large enamel or stainless steel container or plastic bucket can be used for holding the dye bath.


Stirring Fiber Reactive Dye Baths

For even, smooth color, the fiber should be able to move freely in the dye bath. Additional water in the dye bath will dilute the dyes more than necessary and decrease the shade and increase the dyeing time. Increasing the volume of the dye bath requires the dye time to be longer for the dye molecules to reach the fiber. To prevent uneven dyeing stir dye bath frequently (every 2 to 5 minutes). To stir fabric, wear rubber gloves and lift the fiber from the dye bath. Unfold the creases, and return the fiber to the bath in a different configuration. To stir yarn, use two stainless steel, Plexiglas or wooden stir sticks. Gently slide one stick into the skein near a cross-tie and lift above the dye bath. With the other stick, pick up a different point of the cross-tie on the skein. Remove the first stick and use that stick to redirect the yarn back into the dye pot in a different pattern.


General amounts of dye, salt and soda ash per 3 gallons of water and one pound of fabric:

For very pale shades: 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dye, 11⁄2 cups salt, 1⁄4 cup soda ash

For light shades: 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon dye, 11⁄2 cups salt, 1⁄4 cup soda ash

For medium shades: 1 tablespoon dye, 11⁄2 cups salt, 1⁄4 cup soda ash

For darker shades: 2 tablespoons dye, 2 cups salt, 1⁄4 cup soda ash

For darkest shades: 4 tablespoons dye, 3 cups salt, 1/3 cup soda ash



  • 3 gallons of warm water (105° F)
  • Procion® MX dye (see above in for amounts)
  • 1⁄4 to 1/3 cup of soda ash
  • 1 1⁄2 to 3 cups of salt (non-iodized)
  • Synthrapol for prewashing and post-rinsing (suggested)

Be sure to prewash fabric to remove any dirt, grease or sizing. We suggest using Synthrapol.


1.  Fill container (such as a 5 gallon plastic bucket) with 3 gallons of warm (105° F) tap water. Add salt and dye in proportions listed in the general dye amounts above.

2.  Add the fabric or fiber.

3.  Stir frequently for 10 to 15 minutes.

4.  Remove or lift up the fabric.

5.  Add the soda ash. (It helps to dissolve the soda ash in a separate container in a little hot water first.) Stir into dye bath.

6.  Put the fabric back into dye bath and stir frequently for 30 to 60 minutes, (depending on the depth of intensity desired). 



  • While wearing gloves, rinse the dyed fiber first with cool water, then with increasingly warmer water.
  • After 3 or 4 rinses, when the water is nearly clear, prepare a soap soak. Use 2 to 3 gallons of very warm tap water and 11⁄2 teaspoons of Synthrapol. The fiber should sit in this soap bath for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Rinse 3 or 4 additional times with warm water.