How To Dye Nylon – Everything You Need To Know

Natural fibers can be just so easy to dye that you may think you have become an expert in the process.

Once you try to dye a synthetic fiber such as nylon then you may realize how difficult it can be.

Most synthetic fabrics can prove difficult in holding their dye as the fibers themselves fail to absorb the dye and hold it compared to natural ones. 

But you should be able to dye nylon, even though it is a synthetic fiber. So how do you dye nylon?

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

Figuring out how to do this can be tricky and leaves many of us wondering how we can dye the fabric without damaging it, and what results we can expect to achieve. 

In this guide, we will look at the types of dye you need to dye nylon, how to successfully dye nylon fabric, as well as nylon rope and yarn. 

Is It Possible To Dye Nylon?

If the thought of dyeing a synthetic fabric seems quite daunting then do not let this put you off when considering dyeing nylon.

It is possible to dye nylon and you can do it at home without much trouble. This is because a lot of dyes are designed to work with synthetic fabrics, especially chemical dyes. 

There are still precautions that you will be required to take as some of these products can prove irritating to your skin so ensure you are wearing rubber gloves.  

However, using chemical dyes is not for everyone as the substances can be considered harsher than others and certainly not as environmentally friendly.

As synthetic fibers are made from plastic, these can be damaged when exposed to certain chemicals and heat so you should read the care label on your garment before proceeding with the dyeing process.

Thankfully, there are some natural products that you can use that work as effective dyes too.

What Types Of Dye Do You Need To Dye Nylon?

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

Before you begin to dye a piece of nylon, take some time to consider which types of dye you want to use.

If you have an ethical preference then a natural substance like certain vegetables as well as tea or coffee could be preferred over a more chemically-based dye.

There may be products in your household that you want to use instead such as food coloring, especially if it has your desired color. 

There are also natural dyes, all-purpose dyes, acid dyes, and specialist dyes such as Rit Dye that you can expect to do the job effectively.

Part of your decision-making process should be deciding what you want the nylon fabric to look like once you have dyed it.

Ultimately, the decision could come down to what you have available and what you want to use.

All-Purpose Dyes

Should you have visited a craft store before then you may have seen some all-purpose dyes on the shelf.

These types of dye can come in a range of colors that act as indicators, your finished nylon fabric may not completely match the shade, or even color, on the packaging.

All-purpose dyes are not necessarily dedicated to synthetic fibers such as nylon as they are designed to work for all types of fabrics. 

The composition of all-purpose dyes is of two different types of dye which comprise the eventual color.

This includes leveling-acid dye which is aimed at dyeing synthetic fibers such as nylon and direct dye which works best on cotton and other natural fibers. 

An all-purpose dye works on a synthetic fabric such as nylon by only accepting one type of dye.

In this case, the leveling-acid, not the direct dye may mean the finished shade does look different from what you expected. 

Acid Dyes

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

As leveling-acid dye works best for synthetic fibers, you may be tempted to opt for an acid dye for nylon.

This could prove to be a wise choice as it can deliver the most accurate color and is certainly the ideal type of dye for nylon. 

Acid dye simply uses one type of dye which is particularly aimed at synthetic fibers so you should expect a close match to the original dye color once the process has finished.

Natural Dyes

If you do have an ethical preference for using fewer chemicals or simply have a natural product at hand that you want to try then go for a natural dye.

This could be the easiest choice for a practice run as you will not need to order a full container of a specific dye, only to be disappointed when it proves too difficult to use or does not perform as you had expected.

Something simple like certain colored vegetables, tea, or coffee could do the job and you will not even have to head to the shops for it.

One drawback is that the results can be unexpected and the shade of your finished dye may not be exactly what you wanted yet you can always experiment. 

A Step-By-Step Guide To Dyeing Nylon

There are several products that you can use for dyeing nylon.

From natural ones that you should find in your home such as colored vegetables, tea, or coffee, to more specialist dyes that should deliver accurate results.

Once you have decided which type of dye matches your preferences and your garment or fabric then follow the instructions to successfully dye it.

Food Coloring

You might have some food coloring in your home and you may be pleased to learn that this is an effective way to dye nylon fabric.

There will also be a range of colors to choose from with intricate shades that you can try. 

Calculate how much food coloring you need then ensure that your garment or fabric is clean first.

Fill a large pot with water and drop your garment or fabric in then turn up the heat so that the water simmers. 

One trick that you can use is to mix in a full cup of distilled white vinegar as the acid allows the synthetic fibers to take in more dye.

You may only need around ten to twelve drops of food coloring per pound of material for vibrant color. 

Test it first with a paper towel after only a few drops then add in more until you get the desired color before adding in your garment or fabric.

Stir it around for ten minutes or so then leave it to fully absorb the dye for an hour at most. 

Once the dye has been absorbed, you can remove the garment or fabric from the heat then rinse it.

Start with warm water then gradually turn it down to cold water and eventually the water will run clear.

Keep your gloves on then squeeze out any remaining water and hang it up to air dry.   

Natural Dyes

If you were anxious about using some chemically-based dyes then you may have some natural ingredients you can use instead.

This can be a more laborious process as the extraction is required to be extracted first rather than coming out of a bottle. 

You should know how to make a cup of coffee and tea so you see how the water changes color as the product is extracted and it can be a similar process though the color is more defined.

Coffee

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

As you can imagine, coffee delivers a dark brown color to nylon which can be a warm and neutral shade.

In terms of extraction, try to use instant coffee as this works best with little effort as it is already ready prepared.

The actual process of creating a natural dye out of coffee is similar to creating a large batch of coffee. 

You start by boiling a large pot of water then add around half a cup of instant coffee grounds and the water should naturally turn brown.

Once cooked, take the pot off the heat and drop it in your garment or fabric then stir the pot to fully distribute the color. 

You may want a darker shade of brown so you can leave it in there for a bit longer or simply when you feel comfortable removing it as the water temperature has dropped.

If you still want it to get darker then you may want to add more coffee grounds and leave them in the solution for even longer. 

Rinse out the coffee with warm water which you can then turn to cold and remove once the water runs clear.

The cold water is important to lock in the color of the natural dye as it is more likely to bleed out or fade as opposed to chemical-based dyes.

After you have squeezed out any excess water you can hang up your garment or fabric to air dry completely. 

Tea

For a lighter shade of brown that edges towards beige, try tea as another natural dye.

The process is also similar to that of using coffee grounds or instant coffee as you will need to ensure that the garment or fabric is clean first then fill up a large pot with water.

You may need a few teabags as one should be enough per cup of water. 

The process is rather like making a huge pot of tea as you want to ensure that the water is boiling then reduced to a simmer when you can drop your garment or fabric in. 

Stir it around as you would with a teabag to ensure the extraction occurs and your nylon garment or fabric is covered then you can leave it for an hour to soak.

Check your garment or fabric and if it is the right color, remove it and replace the water in the pot.

Add a quarter cup of distilled white vinegar to lock in the color and leave your garment or fabric to soak for about 45 minutes to a full hour. 

Again, rinse it in warm water that gradually turns to cold water then squeeze out the excess water. 

Vegetables

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

For another naturally occurring color, you can use colored vegetables.

You will have seen how cooking various vegetables exudes some color into the pan and you can have that color as a natural dye.

Certain vegetables can be used for your favorite color which might be turmeric for yellow, carrots for orange, spinach for green, and red cabbage for purple.

A few of your favorite colored vegetables may be to finely chop them up and add them to a large pot filled with water.

Ramp up the heat until the water begins to simmer and allow the vegetables to cook for around an hour.

Turn off the heat then strain the vegetables in a colander with another pan underneath to collect the water which should be brightly colored.

Drop your nylon garment or fabric into the colored water and stir it around so the natural dye provides an even coating.

The longer you leave it in the water, the darker the color shade should be. This could mean a couple of hours or even overnight for a suitable deep shade.

Once you are happy with the shade, remove the garment or fabric then rinse in cold water until no more color bleeds out when you can squeeze and air dry it.

Unsweetened Powdered Drink Mix

An unsweetened powdered drink mix can also prove a ready-made dye.

Find one that is free of sugar substitutes and sugar for the best results, otherwise, the nylon can come out looking a little sickly.

The ratio should be around one packet for each pound of fabric you want to dye. 

One bonus is that the unsweetened powdered drink mix should not wash out with nylon as it might do with cotton.

Rit Dye

One well-known dyeing brand with a huge range of colors is Rit Dye.

As such a trusted brand, they have branched out to design a product specifically for synthetic fabrics such as nylon which is Rit DyeMore.

Just like with any dyes, you should weigh the fabric out so you can work out how much dye you will require.

Instructions as to how much dye you can expect to use should be indicated on the instructions.

Before you begin, find a clean surface and ensure that the nylon fabric is clean and freshly washed with any prominent stains removed.

You can be tempted to use fabric softener as you would normally yet this can produce a layer on the fabric which would prove difficult for the dye to penetrate.  

You will want to do some further preparation which includes putting down some newspaper on your work area.

Dye is designed to color your fabric, you do not want it to stain your home from spillage.

Preventing inadvertent dyeing also means wearing rubber gloves which can protect you from staining your hands and any potential chemical burns. 

Find your largest pot, one big enough to hold your garment or fabric, then fill it with water so you can submerge it and allow it to be mixed with the solution.

Grab your regular dish detergent and mix in around five milliliters to make sure the dye is evenly distributed for level dyeing.

Put the pot on your stove then heat it to simmering when you can add in the dye and mix it up. 

Stir the pot for around ten minutes to make sure that the dye is evenly distributed and your garment or fabric is covered.

Keep your garment or fabric in the pot until you are satisfied that the desired shade of color has been reached. 

This should be a relatively shorter time than other synthetic fabrics so be careful and check it often to ensure it does not get too dark.

Right when you are happy with the shade, remove the garment or fabric with some kitchen tongs and squeeze out the excess dye while wearing your gloves.

To lock in the shade of color and the dye itself rinse out the garment or fabric with warm water then turn the temperature down and eventually the water should run clear.

Now your garment or fabric is ready to be prepared for wearing so hand wash it or put it in the washing machine.

Whichever you decide, ensure that the garment or fabric is left alone so any remaining dye does not bleed into other clothes. Once washed, leave it out to hang and air dry.  

A Step-By-Step Guide To Dyeing Nylon Rope

One way to enhance the appearance of nylon rope is to dye it in a bright color. As with most synthetic fibers, acid dye works best for nylon rope, and dyeing it proves to use a similar technique. 

  • First, try to calculate how much acid dye you will require by weighing the rope then find a pot big enough for your rope to fit along with a lot of water. 
  • Add your specified amount of dye to the pot then drop in your rope.
  • Heat the pot so you bring the water to a simmer and leave the rope in there for around ten minutes. 
  • To best retain the color, add a quarter cup of white distilled vinegar then allow the rope to simmer for a further ten minutes. 
  • Remove the pot from the heat and allow the water to cool then take out the rope and rinse it under warm water that gradually turns cold until the water runs clear. 
  • Your rope should be colored and now you can let it air dry. 

How To Dye Nylon Yarn

You may have some nylon yarn that you want to turn into a specific color. Instead of heading to the shops to buy some more yarn, simply dye it instead.

Use an acid dye that is specifically designed to dye synthetic fibers and follow the steps for dyeing any nylon fabric.

That means finding a large pot to fill with water, then apply heat, and allow it to soak for the best results.

Final Thoughts

Yes, it is possible to dye nylon though there are some limitations. As it is a synthetic fiber certain dyes will work better, such as Rit DyeMore which is specially designed for nylon.

You can use several types of dye including natural substances such as tea, coffee, and vegetables though acid dyes tend to work best.

There are also some household products you may need including a large pot, some distilled white vinegar, rubber gloves, kitchen tongs, and you may also need to use your washing machine. 

Not only can you successfully dye a nylon garment and piece of fabric but also yarn and rope.

Ensure that you weigh the item first so you can estimate how much dye you may need as this can save you some time and effort instead of repeating the process.

The process is similar for dyeing nylon in all types of dyes as it requires the application of heat then rinsed in warm and cool water to lock in the color.

After that, just hang it out to air dry and marvel at the new color. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Dye Nylon - Everything You Need To Know

Is It Possible To Dye Nylon With Dylon Dye?

Alas, Dylon due is not appropriate for dyeing synthetic fabrics such as nylon as it is designed for natural fibers such as silk, linen, and cotton.

You would not be advised to use Dylon dye on nylon, even if it remains a popular fabric dye.

This is largely because nylon fibers will reject the color or only provide a light shade that will likely wash out easily anyway.

There are other, more appropriate dyes out there that are specially designed to work with synthetic fibers like nylon so seek them out first.

How Can I Tie Dye Nylon?

It is possible to tie-dye nylon yet you should have success only tie-dyeing a single color. This is largely because the nylon fabric needs time to soak in the dye for the color to pull through.

With other fabrics, such as those made from natural fibers, you can simply squirt on the dye and exert some control over the color and the different colors you can use.

If you did want to use one specific color then Rit DyeMore should work exceptionally well. 

To tie-dye, a nylon garment or fabric, check it is clean first. Just like any garment, use some rubber bands to make your tie-dye design then use the instructions for Rit DyeMore to ensure you get the relevant dyeing.

One bonus tip is to add a tablespoon of salt to the pot of water while you are allowing the garment or fabric to soak.

This can relax the fibers so they can take in the dye better into the design you want. 

Does Nylon Dye Well?

It is known that nylon dyes fairly well as it can accept colors easily and does not distort though there are some limitations.

Nylon does not work with every available dye and as it includes synthetic fibers you may find that the results are inconsistent.

The material also requires the application of heat in hot water which may end up shrinking or damaging the material itself.

If you are concerned about dyeing a nylon garment or fabric, test the shade of color with a paper towel to ensure it is just how you want it.

Amanda Brown

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