Have you ever dyed anything to revive or change its color? I’ve done it a couple of times and am mostly pleased with the results.
The first time was last summer. We had gotten out the summer tables and chairs. The seat cushions are nice and thick, with a sturdy cotton cover. But the bright sun had faded their color to a ghost of the original deep blue. Rather than throw away and replace two dozen identical cushions (we often entertain a crowd in the summer), I tried dyeing them.
It worked like a charm. The only hitch was that I didn’t find enough boxes of dye at one store, and the competing supermarket had the same brand but in a different size. Sigh. So they didn’t all get the same amount of dye. You can tell if you hold them side by side in the sun, otherwise the difference is negligible.
Emboldened by this, I decided to do all my black clothes that were no longer a rich noir. A number of items were in perfectly good shape–no pilling or stains or tears–but they just looked faded. My inner environmentalist cringed at tossing them, yet my inner fashionista felt they weren’t up to snuff.
I followed the dye directions carefully. They called for washing the clothes on a long cotton cycle with hot water. Some planning is required–I made sure to have a couple of loads of dirty dark clothes to do afterward. It would be risky to run a load of whites after doing a black dye job.
The more clothes you put in a load, the less dye they get. I sorted them by how faded they were, and put the worst cases in the smallest load. I had three loads.
First you wash the clothes with the dye, then you do the long cycle again, with a little detergent, to take out excess dye. I did all the dye cycles, then all the rinse cycles.
Result: mostly good but not perfect. Everything came out noticeably blacker. A couple of bleach stains became almost imperceptible, but didn’t completely disappear. The cotton pieces were more faded than the synthetics to begin with, but the cotton absorbed the dye better.
An article about throwaway fashion says Americans throw away 80 pounds of clothes per person per year, double the amount 20 years ago.
When our clothes are beyond hope, I cut them up into rags for cleaning. Eventually they will end up in a landfill, but after having had many lives. And they often replace paper towels.
I have to admit I hadn’t shopped for dye before, but I was surprised that when I was looking at the section in the supermarket, there were other shoppers doing the same. What are the chances of that? I guess it’s way more mainstream than I had imagined. After all, the drogueries had their origins in peddling textile dye. And the word for dry cleaner, teinturier, comes from the word teindre, or to dye, which makes me think it’s all part of just taking care of one’s clothes.
Have you dyed clothes? How did it go?