Can You Dye Wool? (How to Dye Wool Without Ruining It)

There seems to be no end of what you can do with natural fibers. When you get bleach or another stain, it may be a good idea to dye your wool sweater a new color and avoid the expense of buying new. Dyeing is always an option when it comes to wool.

Can you dye wool? Yes, you can dye wool but you should avoid using any soda ash that is high in ph content. That formula works for cotton but it does not work for wool. For wool, if you do not want to ruin it, you should go with an acidic dye over a ph high dye.

To learn how to dye wool without ruining it, just continue to read our article. It will guide you to the best ways to change the color on your wool clothing items. Dyeing wool is like dyeing other fabrics, just the ingredients have changed.

Can You Dye Wool?


Yes, you can and you are probably tired of hearing this as natural fibers are so much more accepting of dyes than synthetic ones. You also have a lot more flexibility with natural fibers, the key is to follow the instructions correctly.

One thing you will find about dyeing wool is that the material needs heat to be successful. There are different ways to apply that heat, you just have to be careful not to get too hot or you may have trouble keeping your wool its original size.

That is one of the contradicting problems that comes with dyeing fabrics. They can be done but the elements needed to do a good job also can ruin the fabric.

Is Wool Dye Easy?

If you follow the instructions correctly, then the answer would be yes. Wool is easy to dye and should be able to be done at home. One of the instructions you should follow closely is to have a separate pot to mix the dye and insert your fabric.

The dyes for wool are not considered safe to be used in pots meant for cooking food. So to be safe make sure you have the right utensils and tools to get the job done quickly.

Why Does Wool Dye so Well?

That is because its natural fibers are very color dye friendly. They have the ability to absorb and hold onto the dye better than synthetic fibers can. Synthetic fibers are not made to really accept dye and it can be a difficult task dyeing those materials.

Wool, on the other hand, is very flexible and uses all of its natural properties to make your outfits look new again. The best answer is because wool is natural.

Do You Dye Wool Before or After Spinning?

Actually, you can go both ways. It will all depend on the type of color and effect you want the wool yarn to have. Booth ways are safe and you need to limit the agitation when doing either method. Agitation is a way to shrink wool.

The technique varies and you can start with cool water if you want as long as the dye has fully dissolved. Do a little experimenting and see which way works best for you. Always experiment on scrap wool first.

How do You Dye Spun Wool?

You will need to use a heat method here and wool you are going to need the right sized dye pot, a thermometer (non-cooking), measuring cups, spoons, pipettes, or graduated cylinders, long-handled plastic or fiberglass spoons, and the dye.

Don’t forget tongs to lift the wool out of the dye bath. Then follow the directions on the dye package if you want a good result. Those directions change with the different dyes so you have to pick the best dye and follow those instructions.

How To Dye Wool Without Shrinking


It seems that wool fibers are vulnerable to temperature shock. That means they will react to a sudden change in temperature. What that means is that you have to slowly change the water temperature when dyeing your favorite wool items.

A quick change in heat will result in shrinkage or other damage. This is why dyeing has to be done carefully as fabrics react to different ingredients and processes differently. That gradual change in temperature needs to be for both heating and cooling the water.

How To Dye Wool Yarn

First gather all your dyeing supplies, tools, and materials. Then pre-mix the dye and pre-wash the wool and let it soak for a bit. Add your water to the dye pot and mix in the dissolved dye.

Now after you have heated the dye and the wool, and the color has set, let the mixture cool down gradually. Once the wool is cool rinse in cool water and washes with a textile detergent. Now let the wool dry. Then rinse and wash should prevent future dye bleeding.

Dyeing Wool With Fiber Reactive Dyes

Wool cannot be dyed the cotton way and for the best results, you want to use white pure virgin wool. If you are dyeing wool you should go by the pound as you will need 1-5 tsp of dye for every pound of wool.

Then add 3 to 9 tsp of salt and then heat the dye, salt, and wool for ten minutes before adding 2/3 c. of vinegar. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and rinse.

Acid Dyes For Wool

These are the most popular types of dye used and they include food coloring. There are several types of acid dyes so you should do a little research to see which one will work best on your wool items.

You can dye angora, cashmere, and other types of wool using this option. The instructions are simple and do not worry. The word acid does not mean the type of acid that eats things. To learn about all the different types of acid dyes there are click here.

Can You use Hair Dye on Wool?

It is a possibility but it is hard to say what kind of results you will get. Hair dye and wool may not exactly react well together and you should test it first on old wool you won’t wear.

But if your wool item is part of a poly blend, then you may not end up with even results. It has been reported that hair dye works on cotton but then wool can’t be dyed the same way as that fabric so you may have to add more ingredients.

Dye Wool With Food Coloring


Yes, usually food coloring is considered an acid dye that does interact with wool very well. Also, when using food coloring you may have to add a mordant, for example, plain salt, to make sure the dyeing process works.

Then you will have to add heat to make sure the dye sets in the wool. The process is not complicated nor takes along time. Instead of salt you can use vinegar tas the mordant and make that color stand out.

Will Rit Dye Color Wool?

One of Rit dye’s strengths is that it works best with natural fibers. Of course, you will need to find a variety that is designed to work with wool. The cotton variety will not suffice. That means looking at the labels carefully to make sure.

Then you can get Rit dyes in both powder and liquid form. The one you choose is the one that will work for you. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully as mistakes can happen accidentally.

Dye Wool With Beets

Beets can help provide you with some great shades of red and orange. But using beets can be tricky as it uses alum as a mordant and not slat or vinegar. Then, select those beets that are too fibrous to eat so they are not wasted.

To extract the dye you will have to cook the beets for about an hour in warm to hot water. When the dye is ready pour it into your dye pot and add the wool, Simmer for 2 hours, and stir occasionally. Then add food safe acid to lower the ph levels. Simmer for another 30 minutes and then rinse and wash.

With Red Cabbage

Red cabbage can help you create different colors depending on if it is a neutral, acid, or another base formula. The problem with using red cabbage though is that it is a temporary color and may not last that long.

Like beets, you need to chop up the red cabbage, boil it and extract the liquid die. You will also need to use alum as the mordant. If you add lemon juice you will get a nice pinkish color.

With Avocado

There is some good news when you dye your wool with avocados, you do not need a mordant to make the color stick. Avocados are an all in one type dye as their pits contain tannin which is the mordant you will need.

Then you will have to clean the pits and peels then simmer, not boil them, in water until the liquid is ready for your wool. Add the damp wool to the pot and simmer again. When you get the color you want let the wool cool then rinse and hang to dry.

Does Dylon Dye Wool?


Yes, this is another brand of dye you can use on wool. It is not good for synthetic fibers but wool accepts this dye very well. The instructions on how to do the task are on the box. Read them carefully.

The only thing is, do not use this dye for a wool poly blend. It won’t work and your results will be less than desired. That will go with the other wool synthetic blends you may own. All dyes are not the same.

Dye Wool With Turmeric

Just because we skip mentioning steps doesn’t mean they are eliminated, we just do not want to insult your intelligence and keep repeating them. For turmeric, you will need 4 parts of cold water and 1 part vinegar. Soak the wool in that mixture for 30 minutes.

Next, heat the water and add your turmeric. How much you add depends on how yellow you want the wool. In other words, you have complete freedom here. Once done, let the fabric cool, rinse, and then wash.

Dye Wool With Coffee

Coffee also needs the same amount of water and vinegar mixture to begin the process. Then as the wool is soaking, make the coffee. Like turmeric, the strength of the coffee determines the color. If you want a dark color, then brew a very strong pot of coffee.

Add it to the mixture and let soak. Stir occasionally and when you have your color, let cool and rinse. You will need to remove any dye that didn’t adhere to the wool to prevent color bleed when you wash the item with other clothing.

With Tea

Everything is the same for tea as it is with turmeric and coffee. The only difference will be how many tea bags will you use. If you want a dark color, then use a lot more tea bags. One to five will not do the trick. You will need at least 20.

Also, you can experiment on some scrap wool to see if any of the herbal teas will provide you with a unique color shade. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The key is to make sure you use enough tea bags to get the color even and thoroughly through the fibers.

Dye Wool With Kool-Aid

Bring a pot of water to a boil and make sure to use one that is large enough to handle the amount of wool you are dyeing. Once it comes to a light boil, add the color of Kool-aid that you want to use.

Once it has been mixed, turn the heat off and add your wool. Let it soak for 45 minutes and make sure the material is fully submerged. After that time you should be able to see clear water as the wool will soak it all up. Chances are that this method may not produce an even color for you.

What is The Best Dye For Wool?


Non-high ph balance dyes are the best for wool. It is possible to bring that level of ph balance down but it is best to go with a dye, as an acid dye, and save yourself the trouble. Acid dyes are the most popular and usually produce the best results for you.

If you are doing felting then you should probably go with a Lanaset dye. The only problem here is that it may be hard to find in small personal quantities. Natural dyes are good, just make sure to add the mordant to make sure the color sticks with the wool fibers.

How To Dye Wool White

Unless the wool material you are dyeing is already white, this may be an impossible task. It is impossible to dye dark colors lighter because most dyes are transparent and the old darker color will show through.

However, you may be able to use a color remover to remove those stains or darker colors, if the can be removed. In the end, you may get white or an off white color to the fabric. Color remover works best with lighter colors like yellows, tans, creams, and so on.

If you need to lighten dark colors, it would be a better option to use fabric paint or simply buy the wool material in white color. You will save yourself a lot of frustration and time if you do.

Black Wool Dye

If you are working natural fibers like wool, then most any variety of black dye will work on the fabric. You just have to follow the instructions and make sure you do not shrink the fabric.

Also, make sure the dye is made for wool or you will have to make another trip to the store. The process is generally the same for black as it is for other colors. You will need heat to set the dye and add some salt as the mordant.

The package should have the time frames for each step including soaking the wool in the dye mixture. Just make sure to stir so you get an even dye job. Rinse and wash when you get to the end of the process.

Some Final Words

Changing colors on natural fibers like wool can be fun. That is because you can be creative as well as restore old clothes you thought you couldn’t wear again. Just remember to go light to dark and never dark to light.

Once you are done, you can be proud of the results you get.

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