How To Dye Polyester With Acrylic Paint, Rit, Dylon, Food…

Something stained your favorite polyester outfit or it sat out in the sun too long and faded and so on. No matter what color change took place, it is sometimes cheaper to dye or paint the polyester fabric than it is to go out and replace it.

To begin with, when you want to dye polyester curtains, you need a good chemical dye that reacts well to synthetic fibers. Polyester does not have a cellular structure like natural fibers so the dyeing process is a bit more difficult.

To learn how to dye polyester, just continue to read our article. It gives you the information you need in order for you to get the right results that help you look your best. Take a few minutes to get up to speed on dyeing polyester.

What Happens When You Dye Polyester


A lot depends on if you are dyeing 100% polyester or a poly-cotton blend. The latter may give you a darker tint because the natural fibers absorb more dye than the synthetic ones.

A 100% polyester outfit may dye lighter and if you try to bleach the black color out of polyester, you may end up with a weird pinkish or rusty looking color that is not great for any fashion statement or award.

Then if you tie-dye the polyester, you may end up with very subdued color tints that defeat the purpose of tie-dyeing. Polyester is not a great fabric to dye but it can be done if you are careful and use the right dyes made to handle the synthetic fibers.

Can You Dye Polyester Twice?

If the outfit is made from a poly blend then you can dye the material twice as long as you use the right dye. 100% polyester cannot and should not be dyed twice. It has only been in recent years that dyeing polyester has become easier but those advances still have not the dye twice issue.

Then once you get the right dye, you need to be aware that it is still almost impossible to dye the fabric a deep dark color. Part of the reason for this is that way polyester is made. If it comes in permanent press then that coating must be removed before you dye the material.

Polyester is a picky and finicky material to alter the color.

Can You Tie-Dye 50 Cotton 50 Polyester?

The answer to this question is positive. It is possible to dye a poly blend but there are some things you need to be aware of. First, the color you want on the material may not get as dark as you hoped.

Polyester seems to get a muted color tone instead of the deep dark rich color tone you may have wanted. Second, the natural cotton fibers will absorb more of the dye and you may have a nice darker color but the polyester portion may be lighter.

The polyester influence may bring the brilliance down a little and you end up with a subtle tie-dye instead of a brightly colored outfit.

What Temperature To Dye Polyester

The ideal temperature for dyeing polyester is about 130 degrees C, which equals about 290 degrees F approx. But if your water temperature is within the range of 105 to 140 degrees C or 240 to 300 degrees F, then you should be okay.

The exact temperature for each different polyester dye should be printed on the box when you buy the dye. Some people say curtains should be dyed in 180 degree F temperatures but you be the judge.

There are no set rules as the dyeing process is not an exact science and results may differ due to differences in the fabric, styles, and quality of the material. If you have natural fibers mixed in, that will influence your water temperature as well.

Dye Polyester Without Heat


It turns out that there is really only one way to dye polyester fabrics, even when blended with natural fibers. You do need heat. Warm water is not enough either and the lowest temperature we saw for dyeing this material was 180 degrees F. That is just below the boiling point of water which is 212 degrees F.

If you are trying to dye a polyester-spandex blend, you are out of luck. Spandex can only handle temperatures up to 140 degrees F. If subjected to higher temperatures it can lose its shape, stretch out or fall apart.

What this means is that you cannot dye a polyester-spandex clothing item at any time. You may need to use fabric paint to change the color.

Dye Polyester in a Washing Machine

There is a problem with this option as well. The few polyester dyes on the market right now are not made to be used in your washing machine. They also do not work in cold water either.

The good news is that if you are trying to dye a poly blend, many of the dyes for natural fibers will work and you should get some good results using them. But if you have 100% polyester items, you are stuck with the stovetop method and extremely hot water.

You would have to read the labels of the individual dyes to see if they can be applied using your washer. If it doesn’t say it can, then don’t use your washing machine.

What Can You Dye Polyester With?

There are some good brand name products out there that will dye your polyester outfits. Most of them require a hot dye bath to work which means you have a little more work to do than if you could use your washing machine.

The top brands, Rit Dye, Jacquard, Tulip, and Dylon all have special dyes that are manufactured to work on polyester clothing. Even though these are rarer than the dyes for natural fibers, they are still cost-friendly and do not break your budget.

Also, you can mix the different polyester dye colors to get the right shade or tone you want. That helps make dyeing polyester a little easier. Read the labels to make sure before you buy.

Dye Polyester With Acrylic Paint

This is a possibility and the thing to watch out for is to make sure the acrylic paint does not have any solvents in it that would ruin the polyester fabric. Most acrylic paints are water-based which makes it perfect to dye this material.

You may need to add in a fabric medium to keep the paint flexible and avoid any cracking that occurs when the paint dries out. Before you dye, make sure the wearer is not allergic to acrylic paint.

Some people are allergic to latex so you want to be careful before you get started. Check out the ingredients to verify if the paint is safe to use or not.

How To Dye Polyester With Rit


Using Rit Dyemore, you should weigh the fabric first. One bottle of this compound can handle about 2 pounds of polyester fabric. Once you have that taken care of, wash the items so that they are clean.

Next, fill a pot with 3 gallons of water and place it on your stove. Bring the water to a boil and then let simmer. Add 1 tbsp of dishwashing detergent and one bottle of DyeMore while the water is simmering.

Now add the fabric and stir slowly for 30 minutes. When you get your desired color, remove and rinse in warm water. Then wash the item in soapy warm water and rinse again. Let dry before wearing it.

Dyeing Polyester With Dylon

The first thing you need to know about dyeing polyester with Dylon products is that this company has not developed a dye that works on 100% polyester. The best amount of polyester you can get away with dyeing is a 50% blend.

Next, pick a darker color than what is on your clothing and be careful as the original color will influence the result. A yellow shirt dyed with blue color will end up green. You will also need a pre-dye pack to make the effort a success.

It is possible to use your washing machine if you select the machine dye.

Can You Dye Polyester With Food Coloring?

Technically, it is possible to dye polyester with food coloring. But the word is you can’t wash the item ever again if you do. Food coloring is not a permanent dye and polyester is not the only fabric you cannot use food coloring on.

Other materials will only accept the different coloring until you wash the item. Then if the food coloring or even drink mix is washed out, you may end up with a big stain to remove.

It is risky but if you want to do this you may have to add a lot of ingredients to make it work for you.

Will Coffee Dye Polyester?

It is possible but you may not be pleased with your results. Polyester is hard to dye without using those special dyes made to color the material. Coffee is not on that list and what you get in return for all your hard work is a mess.

At best you may get a temporary change to the color on your clothing item which will wash out as soon as you launder the material.

Will Indigo Dye Polyester?


Yes, it can dye polyester and there is a method that needs to be done to make it a successful task. You need to control the sodium hydrosulfite and sodium hydroxide concentration in the indigo dyes to get the polyester to accept the chemical ingredients.

The non-ionic indigo dyes are better suited for polyester materials and the ionic ones are not so good with that fabric. It is also possible to make your own indigo dye to match your preference. The recipe goes like this:

.35 ounces (10 grams) indigo

.71 ounces (20 grams) soda ash

1 ounce (30 grams) sodium hydrosulfite

1.3 gallons (5 liters) water

2 pounds (1 kg.) fabric or yarn

Dye Polyester Fabric With Tea

This is going to produce the same results as coffee does. Tea is great for natural fibers but synthetic materials are not tea friendly and the liquid may wash out at the first rain or first laundering after the dyeing process.

Neither tea nor coffee stick to the synthetic fibers. This is good news if you spill your cup of coffee or tea on your new polyester clothing. You know that those stains will wash out.

There are always imitations in life and that applies to when you want to dye your clothes as well. Not everything will work on every fabric. Stick with those dyes that are made for polyester to get the best results possible.

Dye Polyester With a Sharpie

This is a possibility and it will depend on the type of polyester material you are using the sharpie on to get good results. Some people have tried it and have only achieved about a 90% effectiveness when using sharpies to color over mistakes or stains.

Other people have found that the Sharpie ink stays on polyester permanently and does not wash out. The one thing you have to remember is that you cannot dye a whole shirt, jacket, or pants with a Sharpie. It is good for spot coloring which is vital as stains can make a mess of a nice clothing item or purse.

Dye Polyester With Turmeric

Some people may have better luck with this but generally, turmeric is not something that will adhere to polyester. Normal dyes and other natural products just do not grab onto the fabric and stay there. They are washed out as soon as you place them in your washing machine.

To get that gold or yellow color that turmeric brings to natural fibers, you should stick to using those dyes that are made for this material. Since you can combine the colors you should be able to find that perfect yellow tone that goes with your room’s decor.

Going with the right materials is the way to get the best color for your polyester items.

How To Dye Polyester Black


The best way to get polyester black is to use a disperse dye made for the fabric. Since normal dyes do not work on synthetic fibers, you need a dye that is formulated to handle all the chemicals in the fibers.

You can look at Rit Dye’s options to see what colors are available then all you need to do is follow the instructions. Almost all polyester dyes need a hot dye bath to work effectively.

There may be a few that will work in the washing machine but they are also rare. Heat the pot of water first, then add your dye before adding in your fabric. Stir slowly for about 30 minutes or until you get the color you want.

How To Dye Polyester Lighter

It is actually impossible to dye polyester or any fabric lighter without using a color remover or as they are called a dye remover. But these may not remove all the color even after using two packs.

The dye remover may lighten the shade of color on the material and you should be able to dye the fabric the color you want. Just remember that dyes are transparent and do not cover darker colors.

There is no guarantee this process will work as polyester is a difficult fabric to dye. You may need to use more than two packs of dye remover to get the color down where it will be covered by the new dye color.

Is Polyester Dye Toxic?

If you are talking about the original dye color the answer would be yes, it is. There are workers around the world reporting high cancer and lung disease issues because of the chemicals involved in creating polyester and its different colors.

It is possible that the powdered dyes may be toxic and you should avoid inhaling any of the powder by accident. You should use safety equipment to protect your eyes, lungs, and internal organs.

Make sure to wash everything well that has come in contact with the dye. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Check the label to see if there are similar dyes that are non-toxic.

Some Final Words

Dyeing polyester is not a given. There are just too many things that can go wrong and if you use the wrong dye, you just wasted your time. Find the dyes that are made for the fabric and follow the instructions carefully, protecting yourself from any powder that may fly into the air.

If you are successful, you just saved yourself a lot of money by dyeing those polyester items you love.

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