Immersion Dyeing

Immersion dyeing with Procion MX type dyes
Instructions adapted from, (dead link) and

For cellulose fibres (cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, rayon, tencel etc.)

Please read the introduction before using these instruction

Bucket or other container for wetting-out
Detergent (Synthrapol, if available)
Soda Ash (Sodium carbonate)
Common Salt (Sodium chloride), preferable non-iodised
Procion MX type dye of desired colour(s)
Container for dye dissolving
Measuring spoons
Dye bath: a large plastic, stainless steel, enamel or non-reactive metal container
Plastic colander

Preparation of fibre

  1. Weigh the dry yarn or fibre to be dyed and record weight.
  2. Thoroughly wet-out the yarn/fibre in a Synthrapol solution (½ teaspoon per litre of water) or detergent + water solution (enough to cover the fibre) for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.

Preparation of dye bath

    1. Calculate how much dye and other chemicals you will need for the quantity of fibre you are dyeing.

Results will vary depending on fibre type (eg. tencel tends to require less dye to achieve the same colour depth as cotton) and original colour of fibre – keep records if you want to reproduce colours accurately.
For each 100 g of fibre use:

Pale Medium Dark Black
Dye powder (normal) ¼ tsp ¾ tsp 1½ tsp 3 tsp
Dye powder (Tencel) < 0.1 tsp ¼ tsp ¾ tsp 2 tsp*
Salt 100 g 150 g 200 g 200 g
Soda ash 3 tbsp 4 tbsp 5 tbsp 5 tbsp

*probably too much, but I found 1 tsp too little.

  1. Wear gloves when handling dyes, chemicals or dye solutions. Measure the correct amount of dye powder. Mix a dye solution by adding warm water to the dye powder in a container to make a paste, then add more warm water to make 1 cup of solution (2 cups for ‘dark’ or ‘black’ quantities) and stir thoroughly. Set dye solution aside.
  2. Fill the dye bath with enough warm water (24° to 35°C) so that it will cover the fibre. Measure the amount of salt required. Add this to the dye bath and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add the dissolved dye solution to the dye bath and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Remove the yarn/fibre from the wetting-out solution and place in a colander to strain off the excess liquid. Add the yarn/fibre to the dye bath and move it around in the dye bath so the dye solution begins to soak in to the fibre evenly. Stir continuously for the first 5 minutes.
  5. Measure out the amount of soda ash required. Dissolve the soda ash completely in 500 mL of warm water.
  6. 15 minutes after the yarn/fibre first went into the dye bath, remove it temporarily and pour in the dissolved soda ash solution. Stir the dye bath then return the yarn/fibre and stir continuously for the first 5 minutes. Then give the dye bath a stir every ten minutes.
  7. After 1 hour from when the soda ash was added to the dye bath (90 minutes for black) dyeing is complete. Remove the yarn/fibre from the dye bath. Rinse 2-4 times in room temperature water. Then rinse in a very hot (60°C) wash of Synthrapol (½ tsp per litre of water), then rinse again 2-3 times in room temperature water. The water should be clear by this stage. If not, repeat the hot Synthrapol wash and rinses again.
  8. Dry yarn by hanging, or if fibre then flat on a table and open with fingers before it is dry.