Best Way to Re-Dye a Black Dress

Cotton holds black dye the best of all fabrics.
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Your little black dress is your biggest fan. It does an awesome job at camouflaging body parts you'd rather hide, and it can instantly update your style when nothing else in your closet can. But don't be in the dark about your black dress when it comes to condition. A black dress gets lots of use -- which can equal many washings and a dulled appearance. Getting your black dress back up to snuff is easy, though, with a black-dye treatment. This easy re-dyeing process can revitalize and refresh your all-important wardrobe staple.

  • Black clothing dye
  • Salt
  • Cup
  • Non-iodized salt
  • Soda ash
  • Vinegar
  • Sink stopper
  • Spoon
  • Tongs
  • Mild detergent
  • Towel

1 Preparation for Dyeing

2 Wash your dress

Wash your dress before the dyeing process starts. This is to ensure the garment is free of dirt and stains that can greatly hamper the dyeing process.

3 Choose your dye based on the dress material

Choose your dye based on the dress material. It is best to dye cellulose materials -- such as cotton, linen, rayon or hemp -- with a fiber-reactive dye. You can also dye silk with this kind of dye. Acid dyes are best for nylon, wool and animal fibers such as mohair and angora.

4 Add roughly 3 to 5 liters roughly to of salt

Add roughly 3 to 5 liters of salt to your washing machine before you start. This helps move the dye solution onto the fabric during the dyeing process.

5 Dissolve soda ash in 1 cup of water

Dissolve soda ash in 1 cup of water if you're using a fiber-reactive dye. Otherwise, prepare 1 cup of vinegar that you will add to the washing machine once you turn the washer on. This is important because it raises the pH and aids in the dyeing process.

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7 Fill the washing-machine basin

Fill the washing-machine basin 1/4 full with hot water and then stop the flow. Slowly add the soda ash or vinegar to the water.

8 Pour 14 to 12 to of the black dye

Pour 1/4 to 1/2 of the black dye into the water in the washing machine. Read the manufacturer's directions to know how much dye is needed for the weight of your dress.

9 Fill your sink with hot water

Fill your sink with hot water. Use your tongs to submerge the dress into the water. Once saturated, use the tongs to lift up the dress and place it on the other side of the sink. If you're not using a double sink, simply wait for the water to cool and then unplug the stopper. Put the dress back back into the sink for a few minutes.

10 Place your dress

Place your dress into the washing machine and set it to an extended cycle with a cool rinse. The extended cycle is necessary because the black dye needs time to grab hold of the dress before the rinse cycle begins. Simply reset your machine before it starts to drain if the rinse cycle is less than 30 minutes.

11 Wait for the washer to stop

Wait for the washer to stop, and then reset it to a warm-water setting. Add a mild detergent, and then set the rinse cycle to cold.

12 Place a clean towel

Place a clean towel open on a flat surface. Take your dress out of the machine, and place it on the towel. Make sure to smooth out the fabric so that it air-drys without creases or wrinkles.

  • Heat fades colors. Refrain from putting your dress in the dryer.
  • Always check that you're using the right detergent for high-efficiency washing machines.
  • If you have to use a dryer, set it to cool or tumble dry.
  • Adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle is known to hold the dye in future washes.
  • Run a hot-water cycle -- with a few old rags -- after putting dye in your machine. This ensures all the dye is out and future wash cycles will be free of dye.
  • Turn your black dress inside out before future washings, and wash your dress alone or with black clothes.

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.