Will Vinegar Set Dye In Clothing?

There are times when you believe you have found the ideal pair of jeans, only for it to bleed in the washing machine and ruin all of your other garments. The colors in colorful clothing sometimes spill onto other fabrics, making washing colored clothing a significant chore. You can use a few tricks to set dyes on your garments and stop color bleeding, though.

First, let us familiarize ourselves with these common terminologies:

  • Crocking When cloth brushes against something else, like shoes, furniture, or even skin, color transfer like this takes place. When the dye has not completely bonded to the fabric, this occurs.
  • bleeding of colors
  • This occurs when a garment is moist and the color is drawn out of the fibers. This frequently happens when washing in the washing machine and causes dye to transfer to other clothing.
  • Color loss
  • This occurs when the fabric has gone through normal wear and tear and the dye has lost its brilliance and vigor.

Here are the reasons why your fabric dye may be crocking, bleeding or fading:

  • poor quality of the fabric’s dye used
  • Using the wrong strategy when dying
  • wrong dye was used (different fabrics have different fibers which also require different kinds of dye)
  • excess dye that develops during the dying process as a result of inadequate washing
  • Lack of a fixer or mordant to bond the dye to the fabric, or the mordant being rinsed out by using too much hot water during washing
  • deterioration of fabrics
  • exposure to commercial agents that reduce the brilliance of cloth colours, including bleach

So, how do we really set the dye and stop it from bleeding? Here’s how:

Although it’s a common misconception, setting colors in your clothes using salt and white vinegar doesn’t work. Although necessary for the dying process and ineffective for cotton dyes, the acid in vinegar helps set the colour. Similar to salt, which enables dye absorption by fibers during dying but does not stop dye from running or crocking once it has set. Although doing these two wouldn’t hurt, you would merely be squandering your time and money because they are not truly up to the task.

As they say, old is gold. This is a typical home remedy to stop your clothes from bleeding. You can avoid the challenge of erasing the nightmares of dye leaking by pairing all white clothing with colourful clothing.

Excess dye may just indicate that fiber reactive dyes needed to be removed rather than that the fabric was poorly dyed. Repeated washing and a quick test to see if all extra dye has been removed can be done by dampening the colored item and pushing it against a piece of white fabric while it dries. Your fabric has successfully been colored if it remains white. The most common fiber reactive dye, Procion MX type dye, often needs at least one cold water wash (without detergent, unless it’s Synthrapol), followed by at least two hot water washes (WITH detergent), to remove any remaining connected dye. The last traces of unconnected dye are significantly easier to remove with hot water than with warm water.

Making a few small adjustments to your washer’s settings might just work for you. When using current laundry detergents, washing your garments in hot water might occasionally cause harm. Cold water helps your garments last longer by closing the fibers, whereas hot water opens up and may cause to bleed loose dyes.

This wouldn’t work if everything else did. For instance, Shout Color Catcher sheets assist in catching stray dyes in your clothing, preventing bleed-through and transfer. These fabric conditioner sheets-looking color magnets are actually better.

Have no time to test all of these techniques? Don’t worry; you can find a nearby dry cleaner that will handle the job for you. You may rest with the prospect of new, clean clothes without worrying about dye leaking because these are professionals who know exactly what to do with your clothing.

You no longer need to worry because these laundry tips can assist you solve your problem. Laundry might be exhausting, but with the right equipment by your side, it will be a breeze.

How is dye infused into fabric?

  • A large mixing bowl or washing bucket should be thoroughly cleaned before being filled with one gallon of fresh, clean water. Add one cup of vinegar and one-fourth cup of table salt. Together, the vinegar and salt help to naturally lock the fabric’s color. Swish the water to ensure that the salt and vinegar are dispersed equally.
  • When the item is completely submerged, add it to the water and push it there. I’m done now! For the color to be fully set, give the fabric 24 hours to soak in the water. The water may have a little bit of color, but that’s alright.
  • After removing the object, emptying the water out and giving the container a good rinse, add fresh water. Reintroduce the cloth to the container, gently crush and twirl it, and then rehydrate it with fresh water. Repeat the soaking in the vinegar-saltwater solution if color is still leaking from the fabric.
  • Your item will retain its color the next time it is washed if you allow the cloth to fully dry.

What effects does vinegar have on cloth dyeing?

Should you attempt to “set the color” if you think vividly colored clothing will bleed? While some swear by the theory that adding distilled white vinegar to the wash or rinse water can set the dye, others add salt to a cycle of laundry to set the color. Sadly, neither technique can effectively stop dye flow from clothing or materials that have already been colored commercially. Spend no effort or money in vain.

The tales of salt and vinegar contain elements of science and history. In order to aid the fibers in absorbing the dye while dyeing cotton yarn or garments, salt is usually added to the dye bath. The acid in vinegar functions as a mordant in the dye bath for wool or nylon to aid in dye absorption. But neither is a dye fixative for cloth or fibers that have previously been dyed.

What can be done, then? For use at home, it is possible to buy commercial dye fixatives. These, however, are meant to be used by artisans and small businesses that dye cloth and are knowledgeable about the type of dye they are employing. These should be used when dying clothes at home with either commercial dyes like Rit or your own homemade plant-based natural dyes.

Cationic substances, such as dye fixatives, contain a positive charge. The fixative can adhere to negatively charged dyes like direct dyes and acid dyes thanks to its positive charge. Basic dyes, which have a positive charge and are useless for producing colorfastness, are incompatible with them.

How to lock colors in for good

You recently purchased a nice pair of comfortable jet-black denim jeans that make you feel suited up. It makes the ideal pair.

Despite this, you are confident that the color that gives you a positive impression will fade quickly. You weigh your selections in order to prevent your go-to favorite from becoming the faded pair left in the dresser drawer.

We’ve come up with a list of advice to employ on dark-load wash day in order to assist you keep those black pants black.

First, why does color leave fibers?

As colours vanish from fabric fibers, clothes will bleed and fade. Dye loss can make it difficult to keep clothing looking brand-new, whether it’s because dyes weren’t properly set, a fabric was colored with the wrong sort of dye, or clothing was overdyed to look fantastic in the store.

Some dyes pick on color when they come into contact with another surface. When fabric becomes wet, some leach. UV radiation and chemicals both have the ability to release or bleach colors.

The product label will indicate whether or not clothing is more likely to bleed and fade. It’s possible that those lovely hues will bleed if you encounter instructions like “color may wash off,” “do not use detergent,” “wash before wearing,” or “use cold water.” Your garment is probably colorfast, meaning the dyes are more resistant to fading and bleeding, if the label doesn’t mention these precautions. Additionally, as compared to natural fibers like cotton or wool, synthetic materials hold color better.

How to wash with peace of mind

The good news is that there are a few techniques for preserving the original colors of your clothing. Following these advice can help you wash without worrying about fading or bleeding:

  • Sort your clothing into light and dark shades, then wash like colors together. If any dyes leak, other clothing won’t become stained with them.
  • To lessen friction that causes fading on the outside, turn clothing inside out.
  • To avoid friction, wash heavier textiles separately from more delicate ones, and zip all zippers.
  • Washing in cold water seals the pores of the fibers, trapping the dye inside. Warm water spreads fibers open and removes dye. Any water temperature will work with most detergents, and using cold water significantly reduces costs.
  • Use the gentle or permanent press settings to wash your garments; these are kinder on your clothes than standard cycles.
  • Don’t jam too many items in the washing or overfill it. Clothing will experience less friction and come out cleaner as a result.
  • To assist colors stay in place, add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle or 1/2 cup salt to the wash.
  • Use color-catcher sheets to stop bleeding by capturing superfluous dyes during the wash cycle.
  • Don’t fill your washer too full. Things will dry out quicker.
  • To reduce UV exposure when drying clothing on a line outside, take them off as soon as they’re dry.

After a few washes, most clothing stops releasing dye. However, it is important to keep applying these strategies to reduce bleeding and fading so you may feel confident wearing your jet-black pants repeatedly.

What to Dye

It’s entirely up to you what you dye! A natural material is the only necessity for anything you plan to dye; excellent choices include 100 percent cotton, silk, rayon, and wool. (Buy our fave tie-dye products here!) Fabrics made of acrylic or polyester won’t take the dye, but if the blend contains at least 50% cotton, some fabrics made of those fibers might.

Prepping Items to Dye

It is advised to wash anything you intend to color first with only a small amount of detergent (no fabric softener nor dryer sheet). If the fabric is new, this shrinks it to fit and gets rid of any potential residue. If you neglect this stage, your dye will still turn out fine, but a little less vividly.

The only additional step in preparation for Tulip One-Step Tie Dye is to submerge the item(s) in water and ring out the excess water.

If you’re using a different kind of dye, make sure you adhere to the directions on the dye container precisely. Avoid skipping any steps!

Which Type of Dye to Use

I can’t recommend Tulip Brand’s One-Step Tie Dye enough if you’re looking for the simplest and most varied alternative. It comes with everything you need (outside of water and items to dye), so you can go crazy tie dying up to 36 projects with a true rainbow of different colors.

The “one-step” in the kit names alludes to the skipped step of soaking the fabric in a solution of water and soda ash prior to dyeing, which is what makes the dye so simple to use. Simply mix some water into the neat squeeze bottles of dry color powder before dying to your heart’s content!

Follow the instructions on the dye package carefully if you intend to tie dye using fabric dyes other than Tulip’s One-Step dyes as there may be additional processes involving soaking the cloth in water, liquid dish detergent, soda ash, and salt. To achieve the greatest dyeing and coloring effects, make careful to adhere to the dye’s package directions.

NOTE IMPORTANT: Dye only retains its effectiveness for 48–72 hours. To prevent wasting valuable dye, I advise activating only the colors and quantities you intend to use during a given session.

Prepping Your Space for Dyeing

The process of dying is messy. Make sure you are wearing gloves, a tablecloth is covering your workspace, and you are wearing an apron or smock before you contact the dye. Before dying the thing, place it on a piece of paper towel that is just a little bit larger than the item. The paper towel will absorb any extra colour and stop it from pooling underneath your design and getting into places you don’t want it to.

Choosing Colors

Placing colors adjacent to one another that blend well together is a smart idea since colors that are put next to one another will inevitably bleed together where they meet. Yellow adjacent to red will produce a small amount of orange, while pink next to blue can create a hint of purple. Purple next to yellow, on the other hand, will result in undesirable reddish splotches. Simply put, stay away from pairing complementary hues together. Simply make sure to leave enough white space between each region of dye if you decide to use a combination of complementary colors close to one another so that the colors bleed into white rather than into one another.

Dye Intensity

By experimenting with the dye-to-water ratio, you can change the dye’s color intensity. (View our tie dye color chart, which includes all of the dye color recipes!) If you want a more pastel appearance, shake out some of the dye from the prepared dye bottle before adding water, or if you have a half empty dye bottle, add more water to it to dilute the remaining pigment. Tulip’s One-Step dyes are very intense to begin with.

In any event, you can test your dye colors by squirting a bit on a paper towel before using them on your cloth. When determining whether the hue is what you want, keep in mind that it will be less vivid after washing.


To keep the object wet while the dye sets, after you’re done dyeing, place each thing in a different ziplock bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Pick the approach that will keep the various colors from coming into contact with one another the easiest. For instance, rather than coiling up to fit into a plastic bag, a long, slender bullseye could be better served being wrapped in plastic wrap like a burrito.

Allow your things to soak up the dye for 8–24 hours if you’re using Tulip One-Step Dye. The color will get more strong the longer the dye is let to sit. If you’re using a different dye, stick to the timeframe specified on the dye instructions.


The real test will begin once your colour has dried. Put the gloves back on, go to a sink or bathtub, and take off all the rubber bands to show off your works! Separately rinse each item in warm water, removing excess colour until the water is clear. When rinsing many objects, avoid piling them on top of one another because the wet color will transfer.

Wash & Dry

Immediately after rinsing, make sure to wash the goods because if they sit, colors can bleed into the white and stain those places. In order to prevent wet colors from smearing other areas of the cloth while you wait, it is advisable to lay your item flat.

Each item should be washed separately or alongside other things dyed the same color(s) in the washing machine. Set the water temperature to warm, the load to usual, and a modest amount of detergent. (Note: Although using cold water may leave some leftover dye, some people like it to increase color intensity. You have a choice!)

Only the objects that you also washed together should be dried together without the use of dryer sheets. If you have a tennis ball, you can put it in the dryer with the item to guarantee it dries completely because single objects sometimes adhere to the dryer’s wall. For the next wash or two, wash each of your creations separately to avoid staining other objects with leftover dye.

How to Care for Your Tie Dye

Here are some advice to keep your tie dye vibrant after numerous washings:

  • After first rinsing the dye from your garment, try soaking your tie dye for 30 minutes in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and cold water. Vinegar aids in maintaining colorfastness.
  • Wash tie dye in cold water after the first few washes to stop the dye from fading.
  • Make use of mild, color-safe detergents.
  • Instead of using the dryer, hang your clothes to dry.

Use your newly acquired talent to produce fantastic stuff! Here is a collection of project ideas.