Can You Use Hair Dye To Dye Clothes?

close-up of a piece of clothing in a container filled with natural dyes

Can you use hair dye to dye clothes? You certainly can, but there are better dyes to use for clothing, depending on the fabric. Some people like to use natural dyes that can be found from plants, even bugs. Food dye can also be used.

The best dye, however, is commercial fabric dye meant for specific clothing fabrics. A common fabric dye is Rit Dye, which can be used on natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk, as well as on synthetic fibers, such as nylon and rayon.

Can You Use Hair Color On Clothes?

Fabric dyes are available specifically for dyeing clothes and can be found at local grocery stores or online like Amazon. You would not want to use hair color dye on clothes because often hair color products contain bleach and ammonia that can weaken the fibers in clothes. Bleach will turn any colored item white.

Have you noticed if you accidentally get a drop of bleach on a blue sweatshirt and after it’s washed, you notice a white spot? Yep, that’s what happens to clothing if any bleach gets on it.

Bleach is designed to whiten and lighten clothes, however, bleach can also damage the fibers in clothes and as a result, the clothes won’t last as long.

Can You Use Hair Dye On Wool?

Using hair dye on wool is not recommended. Natural dyes stick best to natural fabrics such as wool, as well as cotton and silk because they are highly porous materials.

Food dye can be poured into a large container of water and the fabric is soaked for at least an hour to several hours. Once the desired color intensity is achieved, the wool can be rinsed with cold water and dried.

The color will lighten, but will stick. If a darker shade is desired, then the process can be repeated. Adding white vinegar to fabric dye can help wool take on the dye; use about ¼ cup of white vinegar per 1 gallon of water.

Can I Use Hair Dye To Dye Jeans?

Hair dye should not be used on jeans because it is a powerful colorant that normally will not work on jeans. Hair dye will dry out the fibers and won’t deliver a pure and true tint.

Specific fabric dye is better to use on jeans. It is easier to dye lighter jeans dark than trying to dye darker jeans light unless you bleach them white.

When dyeing jeans that are mostly made out of cotton, it is best to use salt with fabric dye. Use about ¼ cup of salt per 1 gallon of water. Adding salt helps the jeans take to the fabric dye.

Can You Use Splat To Dye Clothes?

Splat is a temporary direct dye that alters the cuticle of the hair. There is no chemical reaction from developers to oxidate hair color, so it is less damaging.

Splat washes out after several washes. Splat is commonly known for its wild and vivid colors, like green, purple, and blue. Like other hair dye, Splat could be used to dye clothing, but it is not recommended.

Since Splat is a direct dye, it will fade after a wash or heat and can bleed all over clothes and sheets. Unless you want your entire wash of clothes to be affected after washing a clothing item that was dyed with Splat, it is best to save Splat for hair.

Can You Use Food Coloring To Dye Clothes?

Using commercial fabric dye from a craft or art store is better for dyeing clothes, but if you don’t have any on hand and want to be creative, food coloring can be used in a pinch.

You can typically use 4 tablespoons of food coloring per quart of water used, along with salt or white vinegar depending on the material used.

Generally salt is better for cotton and linen fabrics while white vinegar is best used for wool fabrics. It is important to note that food coloring won’t stick to synthetic fiber and any stitching will dye a shade lighter or darker than the fabric.

What Can I Use As Clothes Dye?

There are natural ways to safely dye your clothes. You can certainly be creative. Black beans, coffee, fruits, vegetables, flowers, bark—these are all-natural ingredients that people have experimented with to dye clothes.

Some people have even used bugs. Just watch YouTube for some crazy videos utilizing these items if you don’t believe it! However, mashing up smelly beans or a bunch of bugs to dye a t-shirt does not seem appealing.

Many stores carry commercial fabric dyes aimed specifically for clothing. It will not only last longer, but will achieve the proper color, tone, and hue. Commercial fabric dye is also usually safer and better for the clothing fabric, depending on what product is used.

Final Thoughts: Can You Use Hair Dye To Dye Clothes?

Dyeing clothes can help revive clothing that is starting to fade. Why get rid of your favorite worn-in jeans when you can freshen them up with fabric dye?

You can use the same dye color as the jeans or decide to change the entire color. However, it is easier to dye lighter clothing darker than vice versa unless you bleach the clothing first.

Any clothing fabric can be dyed, but specific dyes are better used for some clothing fabrics. Cotton is the easiest and most common fiber to dye, think tie-dye cotton white t-shirts. Synthetic clothing such as nylon or rayon are very porous so they can take dye well and won’t shrink.

Silk and wool are natural fabric that dyes well too, but can shrink, pull, and lose its luster during the dyeing process. Polyester and acetate are the most difficult fibers to dye because they have been treated above the boiling point.

No matter what dye you use, just be sure to wear gloves to not stain your skin and have fun with the process. Why buy new clothes when you can rehab and transform the clothes you have to be like new again?


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By Cierra Tolentino

Cierra Tolentino is a beauty writer at Kintegra Research. She loves keeping people up-to-date with the latest beauty trends in skincare, hair care, and makeup. Finding answers to tough questions is her thing. When she has free time you can find her chasing down a clumsy toddler and obsessively drinking tea.