Can You Dye Cashmere? (How to Dye Cashmere With Rit, Dylon)

Cashmere may be many things. It’s luxuriously soft, gorgeously breathable, warm when it needs to be and cool when it doesn’t. But can you dye it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a little … well, longer.

Can you dye cashmere? Cashmere CAN be dyed, but you’ll need to do it very, very carefully. Use a gentle touch and apply a few specific techniques (more on which coming up), and your beloved cashmere garment will come out of the dye bath none the worse for the experience.

Use the wrong technique, and you’ll rue the day you decided a purple sweater was more ‘you’ than a yellow one.

Does Cashmere Dye Well?


Cashmere takes on dye well, and with the right technique, you can expect an even, pleasing result.

But make no mistake. Dyeing cashmere is by no means as simple as dyeing a fabric like cotton. Cashmere is sensitive and needs to be treated as such. Forget about throwing your cashmere sweater into the washing machine with a packet of dye. Unless you want to be left with a felted, shrunken mess, stick to hand-dyeing.

And don’t, whatever you do, expose your cashmere to any sudden temperature changes…. any changes in heat need to be gradual, otherwise, say ‘hello’ to the dreaded shrinkage.

Similarly, avoid agitating the sweater too much while it’s in the dye bath – the less you work it, the better.

What To Use To Dye Cashmere

When you’re dyeing a fabric made of protein fibers like cashmere, there’s only one type of dye to use…. acid dye.

Before you start hyperventilating at the word ‘acid’, breath –very few acid dyes are caustic, and most aren’t even toxic (although it pays to wear gloves and goggles while you’re using it, just to be on the safe side).

Acid dyes are actually a pretty broad category. In the mix, you have:

Leveling acid dyes: for an even, single-color effect, leveling acid dyes should be your go-to. Garments dyed with these kinds of acids do, however, require extra special aftercare – avoid warm water and washing machines, and stick to either handwashing in cool water or dry cleaning.

Wash fast acid dyes: Wash fast acid dyes may be widely available and some of the cheapest dyes around, but beware: that ‘wash fast’ label can be deceiving, as many dyes in this subcategory are anything but wash-fast.

Lanaset dyes: If you want a truly wash-fast, permanent dye, Lanaset dyes are probably your best bet.

Food coloring dyes: Want a completely harmless, non-toxic solution to your dyeing woes? Then say hello to your new best friend, food coloring dyes.

Can You Dye Cashmere With Dylon?


Can you dye cashmere with Dylon? You can indeed.

Dylon is widely available, reasonably priced, and comes in a fast array of colors.

Best of all, it’s suitable for cold water dyeing, which, considering cashmere hates sudden temperature changes, makes for a very good thing indeed.

Dyeing Cashmere With Rit

Dyeing cashmere with Rit might be frowned upon in some circles, but it’s actually both possible and perfectly acceptable.

Some people think you shouldn’t dye cashmere in hot water (not unless you want the garment to felt, in any case) – something that with Rit, is a necessity. But it’s not actually hot water that cashmere hates. It’s sudden temperature changes. Providing you take care to avoid exposing the cashmere to any sudden change in heat, you can use Rit with no ill effects.

Just be aware that while Rit is incredibly easy to use (making it ideal for dye virgins) its effects are subtle– if you want a bright, bold color, you may need to look elsewhere.

How To Dye Cashmere With Coffee


If you want to go the all-natural route, dyeing with coffee makes a great choice. Its also incredibly simple, requiring no more than a few everyday household essentials. Try it yourself with this simple method.

  • Step 1 - Start by washing the garment as per the care instructions. Don’t let it dry out completely – you want it to be just a little damp when you start.
  • Step 2 - Brew a pot of coffee. You’ll need to make sure there are enough coffee grounds in the blend to completely cover the garment, so brew as many pots as needed. If you want a light finish, opt for a lighter roast. For a dark finish, plump for a dark roast.
  • Step 3 - Let the grounds cool before adding them to a mixing bowl. Add one tablespoon of water per cup of grounds, and mix.
  • Step 4 - Lay the garment on a flat surface, and then gently rub the coffee paste into the fabric. You might want to use a spoon or a spatula for this part.
  • Step 5 - Hang the garment to air dry. Once it’s completely dry, brush away the grounds. If the fabric isn’t as dark as you’d like it to be, repeat the process until you reach the desired shade.

What is The Best Dye For Cashmere?


Cashmere is made from protein fibers, fibers that can be easily damaged by dyes that contain a high ph level. To keep your garment safe, acid dyes should be your number one choice.

How do You Dye Cashmere Yarn?

Dyeing cashmere yarn sounds an arduous task, but it’s actually much easier than you might think. There are several different methods that can be used, but for the best and most consistent results, hand painting is number one. Here’s how to do it.

  • Step 1 - Collect your supplies. You’re going to need a digital scale, your choice of dyes, yarn, a face mask, a squirt bottle (if you’ll be using multiple colored dyes, plan on having one bottle per color), white vinegar, some old newspapers, chopsticks (if you have them – skip them if you don’t) and a large stockpot with a rack.
  • Step 2 - Soak the yarn in a warm solution of water and white vinegar. You’ll need 1 – 2 cups of vinegar per 8-10 skeins.
  • Step 3 - While the yarn is soaking, mix your dyes by following the instructions on the container. Pour the dye into the squirt bottle, remembering to use a separate squirt bottle for each color.
  • Step 4 - Remove the yarn from the water and vinegar solution and allow it to drain. Squeeze the garment gently to remove any excess water, but don’t allow it to dry completely – you want it to still be a little damp for the next step.
  • Step 5 - Cover a flat surface with plastic wrap. Take your squirt bottle and start applying the dye to the skeins. If you’ve got chopsticks, use them to move the yarn gently around to allow the dye to work its way all the way down to the bottom of the skein. If you’re applying multiple dyes, leave a small gap between each one to allow for any bleeding.
  • Step 6 - Grab a handful of newspapers and soak up any excess dye.
  • Step 7 - Add a little water to a pot, then set a rack on top. Roll the yarn in the plastic sheeting and place on top of the rack. Bring the water up to a slow boil, and leave to simmer for an hour. This will help the dye set. Turn the water off, and leave the yarn to cool.
  • Step 8 - Once the yarn is completely cool, rinse it carefully under lukewarm water. Don’t agitate the yarn or you may cause it to felt. Once the rinsing water runs clear, add the yarn to a bowl of water mixed with just a tiny amount of dish soap. Push the yarn gently under the water to remove any excess dye, rinse again, and then hang to dry.

Can You Dye a Cashmere Sweater?

Fancy giving your cashmere sweater a bright new look? Then you can. While dyeing cashmere comes with challenges, it’s surprisingly easy to master. Just remember the two golden rules if you want to avoid the dreaded felting:

  1. NO sudden changes in temperature.

  2. NO agitating the fabric.

Tie-dye Cashmere Sweater

Why dye your sweater one color when you could dye it 2, or 3, or even 4? Tie-dye may still carry a whiff of the 1970s, but it’s becoming an increasingly fashionable style choice… and done properly, it can look fabulous.

If you’ve got a cashmere sweater that’s just a little too Plain Jane for your liking, give it a bright new look with this easy tie-dyeing method.

  • Step 1 - Wash the sweater as per the care instructions. Don’t let it dry out completely. You’ll want it to still be a little damp for the next step. Once washed, lay it on a flat surface.
  • Step 2 - Mix the dyes as per the instructions on the package. When you make the dye bath, add a cup of salt to help the dye take to the fabric.
  • Step 3 - Fold or twist the sweater into the desired pattern. For a sunburst effect, use rubber bands to tie off different sections.
  • Step 4 - Now the fun starts! Dip your sweater into the vat of dye. Leave it to immerse for between 10 – 30 minutes, depending on how vibrant you want the color. If you’re using more than one color dye, do the same with each dye mixture.
  • Step 5 - Wrap the sweater in a plastic bag and leave overnight.
  • Step 6 - Remove any rubber bands that you’ve used and then rinse the sweater under cool water until the rinsing water runs clear. Hang the sweater up to air dry. And that’s it!

Can You Dye a Cashmere Coat?


If you’ve got a cashmere coat, then count yourself lucky. If you’ve got a cashmere coat that’s more drab than fab, then count yourself in need of some dye. Providing you follow a few simple guidelines, dyeing a cashmere coat is fairly simple… just make sure you DO follow those rules, otherwise you might end up with a disaster on your hands.

Top Tips for Dying a Cashmere Coat

DON’T agitate the fabric. Agitating cashmere is a surefire way of felting it.

DON’T expose it to any sudden temperature changes. Heat isn’t a no-go, but rapidly going from hot to cold will leave you with a felted catastrophe.

DON’T dry it in the sun. Once you’ve given the coat it’s final rinse, hang it up inside to air dry. Exposing it to sunlight at this stage could weaken the dye.

DO use a dye intended for protein rather than vegetable fibers.

DO double up on dye if you’re using a dark dye. For a saturated, even result, you might need to use several dye baths.

DO wear rubber gloves and old clothes – fabric dye stains!

How To Dye a Cashmere Scarf

Cashmere scarves can be worn year-round, but certain colors are more appropriate to spring and summer, while others are best suited to fall and winter. If you love everything about your scarf but it’s color, give it a seasonal makeover with this easy dyeing method.

  • Step 1 - Wash the scarf as per the care instructions. Make sure it’s still a little damp when you come to dye it.
  • Step 2 - Mix up your dye as per the instructions on the dye package and add the dye to a container large enough to hold the scarf.
  • Step 3 - Test how well the cashmere will take the dye by cutting off a tiny piece of fabric from the inside seam and dipping it into a small dish of the dye. If nothing terrible happens, you’re good to move onto the next stage.
  • Step 4 - Cover the area you’ll be working in with a couple of old towels – fabric dye has a habit of getting where it shouldn’t, and the stains can be permanent.
  • Step 5 - Immerse the scarf in the dye bath. The scarf should be able to move freely in the container but must be completely submerged to ensure an even result.
  • Step 6 - Use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir the cashmere in the dye bath very gently for 30 minutes. Be very careful not to twist or wring the fabric as you stir.
  • Step 7 - After 30 minutes, lift the scarf out of the dye bath. If the shade is as desired, move onto the next step. If it’s too light, put it back into the bath, checking for color every 5 minutes until it reaches the right shade.
  • Step 8 - Rinse the scarf in water of the same temperature as the dye bath until the rinsing water runs clear. Roll the scarf in an old towel, and gently press the towel to remove any excess water.
  • Step 9 - Hang the scarf up to air dry. Job done!

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