If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, ARTNews may receive an affiliate commission.
Dying for some quality fabric dye? With these coloring agents you can transform an old garment, create custom textiles, and experiment with color. Try methods such as batik printing, ombré dipping, and tie-dyeing. Fabric dye is an essential tool for costume makers, textile artists, and seamstresses, and there are many options to choose from. Fiber-reactive dyes, where the dye bath is alkaline, work best on plant-based fibers like cotton and hemp. Acid dyes are better for protein-based fabrics such as wool and silk. All-purpose dyes like Rit may have ingredients that help them work with a range of materials. And still other dyes are specially formulated for use on synthetics and synthetic blends. Make sure you get the right product for your needs by perusing our picks of the best options below.
Rit Liquid Dye
Rit’s dyes are beloved by pros and beginners alike for their consistent performance. The premixed formulas can be used for both synthetic and natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, wool, and nylon. Each always stays true to the advertised color, and any hue can be mixed to create custom colors that always look intense. We appreciate how many ready-to-use and distinct colors Rit offers as well, ranging from beautiful coral, denim blue, and hyacinth to kelly green, neon yellow, and rose quartz. A little goes a long way with this dye, with one eight-ounce bottle providing enough to dye two pounds of fabric.
WE ALSO LIKE
FolkArt Ultra Dye
This is a great dye for artists who want to brush on their colors like paint. The water-based dye moves easily with a foam brush applicator, whether you’re working on fabric or wood. Colors are rich and opaque, requiring just a few layers to achieve excellent, even coverage. They’re also easy to mix and blended to create beautiful ombré effects. Because this is a water-soluble dye, note that it is best used with natural fabrics for decorative purposes, i.e., you shouldn’t expect to launder your final artwork as it risks reactivating the dye.
ANOTHER GOOD OPTION
Dylon Machine Dye Pod
You’ve heard of Tide Pods, and now get acquainted with Dylon’s dye pods, which can simply be popped right into the washing machine to refresh fabrics or give clothing a whole new look. All you have to do is add the pod to fabric and run a cycle at 30 ˚ to 40˚ Celsius, followed by another cycle with detergent. Best used with natural fabrics but compatible with synthetic fabrics, the dye provides intense and long-lasting results. One pod can dye just over one pound of fabric.
TOP OF THE LINE
Jacquard Acid Dye
These artist-grade dyes are renowned for their versatility, colorfastness, and highly concentrated color. You can use them with materials from nylon and wool to silk, cashmere, alpaca, and even feathers. The dyes are presented in powder form, so you’ll have to add your own citric acid in the water bath, but the process remains exceedingly simple thanks to the consistency of the product. Powders mix with ease and can be blended for custom hues.
Jacquard Natural iDye Fabric Dye
Formulated specifically for natural fabrics, this powder dye from Jacquard dissolves quickly in water with no clumping. This is a hot-water dye, meaning you need to either drop the powder in the washing machine on the hottest cycle or do the dyeing on a stovetop—a technique that will yield maximum color intensity. Choose from 30 stunning colors, from chartreuse to scarlet. Each half-ounce packet can dye about two or three pounds of fabric. We recommend pairing it with iDye Fixative to prevent bleeding and increase permanence.