Acid Dye Instructions

Acid dyes for silk and wool

WASHING MACHINE METHOD (Not for wool. Wool will felt in a washing machine. Use the stove top method for wool.)These directions are for top loading washing machines only.

Set the washing machine to the hot wash/cool rinse and longest wash cycle. Fill water to the lowest level appropriate for the amount of fabric being dyed. Get fabric wet then pull out and set aside. Add dye powder and agitate until dissolved. See chart below.Add clean wet fiber and agitate for a few minutes. Add one cup of vinegar being careful not to pour directly onto fabric. Let agitate a few more minutes. Let machine run through cycle OR for maximum washfastness, stop and reset washer to maximum cycle length. Do not let the washing machine drain or start a new wash cycle. You just want to lengthen the time the fabric is in the dyebath. After resetting, let washer run through cycle. Remove fabric from washing machine. To ensure that all of the excess dye has been removed, you may want to run the fabric through another wash cycle with cool water and some Synthrapol. Run washer through a large rinse cycle to remove any excess dye in the washing machine.



  • Fill a stainless steel or enamel pot with just enough hot or warm water for the fabric to swim freely, turn on the heat.
  • Add the dye powder to the pot and stir. Normally, in this procedure you would add 2 to 4% of the dry weight of the fabric in dye powder. For example, if you are dyeing 1 pound of fabric, use 1/3 to 2/3 of an ounce of dye.
  • Add the fabric that has been thoroughly wetted to the dyepot.
  • Raise the temperature to 185 to 200 degrees, just below boiling. Stir frequently.
  • Add ¼ cup of vinegar per pound of fabric. Try not to pour directly onto the fabric.
  • Maintain temperature and stir frequently for ½ hour. Wash in Synthrapol and warm water.

    Note: If you are dyeing wool, a gradual heating and gradual cooling of the dyebath is important so as not to shock and felt the wool.


    For professional silk painters who steam set, liquid acid dyes provide the brightest, most intense colors. To make your own liquid acid dyes for silk painting, use the following recipe:

  • Stock Solution
    • Add 8 oz. (1 cup) of very hot water to one .5 oz. jar of Jacquard Acid Dye powder.
    • Stir until dissolved. This will yield a very concentrated dye stock solution. Most colors require further dilution. Note: Every color has a different solubility. Some colors are difficult to dissolve, but most are easily dissolved. A small amount of alcohol (about 1 tablespoon) can be added to the dye solution as a wetting agent.
  • The final concentration of the dye solution for painting should be between 4 and 8%. Start by adding 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of water to the 8 ounces of stock solution you have, test the color and continue adding water until desired shade is achieved.
  • Keep in mind that the color intensity really develops in the steam setting process. Most colors will remain stable in solution for a long period of time. However, some colors will fall out of solution upon cooling or from sitting for a matter of weeks. To restore them simply heat them on the stove.


    The traditional method of printing with dye is to add the dye to a thickener paste. This method can be used for screen printing, hand-painting, and stamping and many other direct application techniques. It is important to prepare the fiber by washing to remove the sizing.

  • Wash, dry and iron the fabric.
  • Prepare dye thickener paste (see below).
  • Add powdered dye to thickener. Proportion the dye in the container in relation to the amount of thickener paste and desired intensity.
  • Print, paint, or stamp on fabric.
  • Air dry. Steam set. (See Steam setting directions.)

    Preparing Dye Thickener

    When screen printing with dye thickened with sodium alginate, the print base should be as thin as the image will allow. Dye printed in too thick a base will halo from the image before the fabric is cured or will accumulate in the corners, altering the image. Sodium Alginate SH is a high viscosity, low solids type of alginate thickener used primarily for cotton and other cellulose fibers. It may also be used for silk when fine line definition is not required. Sodium Alginate F is a low viscosity, high solids alginate used for silks and synthetics when fine line definition is desired. Use about 2 1/2 times more of the F to equal the viscosity of SH.

  • Mix chemical water by adding ¼ cup of urea and 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to 1 quart of water.
  • Sprinkle sodium alginate over water and stir constantly for 10 minutes, OR mix in blender.
  • Let stand for a few hours or overnight before using. Mixture may be stored in refrigerator for many months.