Fading when 1st washed, ugh...
  • Hi all, I'm very frustrated.

    I'm using the Procion MX dyes and am following instructions to a "T" and I still have fading with the 1st wash of each 100% cotton tshirt. I'm doing about 11 t shirts for my Daycare kids (I have used the Procion MX for a few years now). I measure out 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon warm water, rubber band the t shirts, soak in the water ash mixture for 20 minutes..Ring out excess, and start dying.

    I tend to over saturate the fabric with the dye and then gently wring out the extra. I then wrap them in saran wrap and put in gallon zip lock baggie for 24 hours. This year ( I do them every summer) I am letting them sit an extra 24 hours in hopes it "takes" better.

    I then rinse out the excess until the water is almost clear, unwrap the rubber bands and put in the front loader on warm water with detergent.

    Everytime I take them out of the front loader, the color has come off or faded. I don't use fabric softener when I 1st wash the plain white shirts before dying them or anything.

    I see other people online doing theirs and they don't do this. So frustrating and for the kids too because I show them, their t shirt when I undo the rubber bands and then they get their t shirt after I wash it and it doesn't look the same. Ugh, please help.

    Thank you so much. I have done this for 5 years and even though what color does stick to the t shirt last a few years, they are not as brilliant as I know they could be.

    Please tweak what I do or tell me what I need to do different.

    How much laundry detergent do you use (if any) when you wash them after rinsing the excess color out when they are done?
  • Hi Mommadoodle,

    That does sound very frustrating! I am so sorry to hear you are having poor results, but I'm sure we can figure out what's going on. We'll have you dyeing bright and bold Ts in no time!

    When it comes to trouble shooting, there are a lot of variables. Most likely, there is a single problem and we just have to identify it. ...it could also be a combination of things...

    My first guess concerns the fabric you are working with. What kind of Ts are you using? Where did you purchase them and what brand are they? For successful dyeing, fabric must be free of sizings and coatings and other chemical treatments that manufacturers put into garments. That is why it is always recommended to dye PDF garments ("prepared for dyeing"), such as the ones Dharma Trading sells. Otherwise, it will be extremely important that you pre-wash your Ts, in order to remove anything that might interfere with the uptake of color. For best results, use Synthapol as your detergent when pre-washing...

    I would recommend getting some PDF fabric (you can get it from us or from Dharma or perhaps from a fabric retailer) and trying everything exactly as you've described. If the color comes out bold and bright, you'll have identified the issue and found the solution.

    There are other potential issues that I will briefly address... (Don't let this overwhelm you! I just want to make sure we're covering all our bases).

    1) Do you have hard water? Hard water can be very problematic when using PMX dyes. It is especially important not to rinse your Ts with hard water. If you do have hard water, that could be responsible for the issues you are having, and a softener might do you wonders...

    2) Have you ever used salt in your soda ash bath or in your dye? Salt will help your fabric take the dye better. It is especially important with certain colors. I highly recommend incorporating salt into your process; it may help tremendously. On the other hand, depending on what colors you are using, it might not do a thing...

    3) What colors are you using? At least for your test, I recommend using the pure, primary colors (turquoise, magenta, and lemon yellow), to eliminate any interference that might be occurring between colors...

    4) After the rinse, wash in hot water water with Synthrapol. This will help remove any excess dye that can stain the surface of the fabric, making it look dull. Keeping excess dye off the fabric will help keep your colors looking bright.

    5) Consider soaking the shirts in soda ash prior to tying. It could be that you just aren't getting soda ash penetration in the folds of your fabric, which would lead to poor fixation, which would result in pale colors... Also, don't overdo it with the soda ash. One cup per gallon of water is the absolute maximum amount you need...

    6) Do not let the fabric stay wet in the bag for more than 24 hours. 18 hours is ideal. If you let it sit too long, strange things can happen, including hydrolysis, which can absolutely result in pale colors.

    7) Make sure your dye is properly concentrated. The most common reason for pale colors is pale dyes! How much dye powder to how much water are you using? As a test, you might try increasing the concentration of your dye dramatically. If you still get poor colors, you'll know that is not the issue.

    8) How old are your dyes? PMX dyes expire. They starts to lose strength after one year. Make sure your dye is fresh! If you are using the sames dyes you have had for 5 years, it wouldn't be a surprise at all that you are getting pale colors. If you can send me the batch number (rubber stamped on the label, next to the bar code), I can check to see how old your dyes are... Also: do not use old dye that has already been mixed with water. Once you have liquefied the dye, it doesn't keep that well. And if your dye comes in contact with even a drop (or speck) of soda ash, it will go bad in a matter of hours.

    9) You can also try adding heat to the system. PMX dyes are cold water dyes, but as you know, heat facilitates chemical reactions. When your fabric is batching (sitting wet for up to 24 hours), are you keeping it in a warm or a cool place? You want to keep it warm. If it is too cold, the dye will not react with the fibers, which will lead to pale colors. Some people leave theirs in direct sunlight, so it soaks up the heat. Some people even microwave their wet, dyed fabric! I have never tried this myself, but apparently it speeds things up quite a bit and helps dyers achieve deeper colors... You can also try mixing your dye powder with warm or hot water instead of cold water. I almost always use hot tap water with PMX dyes...

    I know this is a lot of information, but I think this is the kind of information that will help you be more successful. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns... and good luck!

    Best,

    Asher
  • Hi,

    Like I said I’musing 100% cotton tshirts some are from walmart, some from cafepress etc. I try to stay away from the thin fruit of the loom ones.



    1) Do you have hard water?

    Answer:

    No, I have soft water as I have eczema.


    2) Have you ever used salt in your soda ash bath or in your dye?

    Answer:

    No I have not tried salt. How much per gallon should I use?


    3) What colors are you using?

    Answer:

    A variety. Fire Engine red, black, turquoise, deep purple, violet, lemon yellow, hot pink, bubble gum, and many more.


    4) After the rinse, wash in hot water water with Synthrapol. This will help remove any excess dye that can stain the surface of the fabric, making it look dull. Keeping excess dye off the fabric will help keep your colors looking bright.

    Answer:

    Where can I get Synthapol?


    5) Consider soaking the shirts in soda ash prior to tying. It could be that you just aren't getting soda ash penetration in the folds of your fabric, which would lead to poor fixation, which would result in pale colors... Also, don't overdo it with the soda ash. One cup per gallon of water is the absolute maximum amount you need...

    Answer:

    As I said, I do soak them for 24 hours in Soad ash, Jacquard soad ask, 1 cup per gallon.


    6) Do not let the fabric stay wet in the bag for more than 24 hours. 18 hours is ideal. If you let it sit too long, strange things can happen, including hydrolysis, which can absolutely result in pale colors.

    Answer:

    Oooo, ok. This time I Hlet them sit another 24 hours after the initial 24 hours! Won’t do that again.


    7) Make sure your dye is properly concentrated. The most common reason for pale colors is pale dyes! How much dye powder to how much water are you using? As a test, you might try increasing the concentration of your dye dramatically. If you still get poor colors, you'll know that is not the issue.

    Answer:

    I follow the jar, 2 tsp to 8 ounces if I recall right.


    8) How old are your dyes? PMX dyes expire. They starts to lose strength after one year. Make sure your dye is fresh! If you are using the sames dyes you have had for 5 years, it wouldn't be a surprise at all that you are getting pale colors. If you can send me the batch number (rubber stamped on the label, next to the bar code), I can check to see how old your dyes are... Also: do not use old dye that has already been mixed with water. Once you have liquefied the dye, it doesn't keep that well. And if your dye comes in contact with even a drop (or speck) of soda ash, it will go bad in a matter of hours.

    Answer:

    Some dyes are brand new other I bought last year maybe a couple the year before ( the powders in the jar).


    9) You can also try adding heat to the system.
    Answer:

    Answer:

    After they are dyed I roll them in saran wrap and put them in a gallon ziplock bag. I will try heat again. Our house is very cool.

    Thanks much for your help. Just a couple questions above for you!






  • Shirts from Walmart are almost definitely treated with chemicals and sizings. Commercial manufactures of garments use all kinds of treatments on their fabric that can interfere with dyeing: brighteners, softeners, etc. Although they say 100%, they may not very dyeable off of the rack. I suspect you will have much better success (brighter colors) if you start purchasing PDF shirts. This is a good place to find them: http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/2935041-AA.shtml. If this is not possible, you must wash you shirts in hot water with synthrapol to remove sizings. And even this isn't guaranteed to solve the issue...

    You can find a retailer of Synthrapol in your area by clicking on the "where to buy" tab on the Synthrapol page of our website (http://jacquardproducts.com/synthrapol.html) or by using the store locator (http://jacquardproducts.com/storelocator/).

    Just a pinch of salt will do. You normally use about a tablespoon per 2 gallons of water/dye. The addition of urea might also help you achieve brighter colors. Urea helps keep the fabric wet, enabling better fixation, which is helpful if you leave your bagged fabric somewhere warm (heat helps a lot!) and want to keep it from drying out.

    What I meant by number 5 was to soak the fabric is soda ash before you tie it. If you tie your fabric very tightly and THEN put it in soda ash, the soda might not penetrate to the center of your tied fabric, resulting in poor fixation. Tie your shirts wet, after they have soaked in the soda ash solution.

    Again, try using more dye powder in your recipe. An additional tsp will give you a much more concentrated color, that might give you better color (although again, I suspect the issue is your fabric, not your methods).

    Do not use old dyes. Dyes that are more than a year old should be discarded, especially if they have been opened. PMX dyes start to lose strength after 6 months, and the presence of air or moisture will speed up their expiration. Also, some of the colors you mention are PALE COLORS that are not formulated to yield deep colors: bubble gum, violet, and all the colors with numbers above 170 are all light, "pastel" colors that you cannot expect to get much intensity from...

    Again, when you bag your fabric, leave it somewhere warm, like by the heater or in the sun. If your house is too cool, you won't get good fixation.

    I think if you follow these guidelines, you'll be very happy with the results!

  • I know I'm late to the party on this discussion. But figured I'd chime in anyway... I do something much simpler to set dye into fabric when I make tide dye stuff. Put a gallon of regular vinegar into the fridge to get it cold. In a big glass bowl (not sure if glass matters but that's what I use) put 1 cup cold vinegar, shake a good splash of table salt (I open the pour part of the big refill salt and just let however much comes out of one dash fall into it) then fill enough cold water into the bowl as you need to saturate your fabric. Let it sit about an hour. Just like coloring Easter eggs, or locking in bold colors into the wash... Vinegar works like a champ. After it soaks about an hour, throw in the wash on cold temperature. I pour the whole bowl of vinegar water into the wash. I don't use laundry detergent the first wash. And I hang dry because heat seems to make the dye fade. Hope this helps!
  • Tookers,

    Not sure what sort of dye you are using or what fabric types you are using, but the chemistry you are suggesting will not work with Procion MX dyes.
    Procion MX dyes require a high, basic or alkaline, ph environment to fix well on cellulose fibers. Vinegar creates a low, acidic environment.

    annette