Can you Dye Cotton Ease?

I bought some white Lion Brand Cotton Ease yesterday and was wondering: Is it possible to do the Kool Aid dyeing thing with this yarn? I know it’s got acrylic in it so that might be a problem.


Nope. You might think cotton would take kool-aid because it stains so readily, but it doesn’t. (It might stricke but it will wash out over time.) Plant fibers require the use of fiber-reactive dyes.


Kool-Aid will dye carpet, furniture, and hair though! Isn’t that the cruelest irony of all?

You can dye it, but you would need the dyes you’d use for t-shirts. Rainbow Rock, RIT (yuck) or Dylon should all work for Cotton Ease, though. Or you could get prof. dyes, like from Dharma. But all these should be at your local Wal-mart/craft store.

Why do you say Rit = yuck? I have a fair amount of yarn I want to dye soon, and I was given a bunch of Rit dye… I figured there must be a reason not to use it, because no one mentions using it, but wouldn’t it be more colorfast than Kool-Aid?

I have been wondering this for a while…

RIT dye actually contains two types of dye: a direct dye for cotton and other cellulose fiber, and an acid dye for wool, other animal fibers, and nylon.

On cotton, RIT dye needs heat to be properly set and even when properly set will still bleed in the wash unless a dye fixative is added, which pretty much cancels out the convenience or rit considering that the fixative is only available at dye supply places. Fiber reactive dye such as procion mx, or dylon (cold water or permanent) don’t need to be heated to set and are fast after the excess dye is washed out.

On wool, the dye can be used just like any other acid dye, with heat and an acid like vinegar. The dye water won’t completely exhaust though because of the direct dye.

The type of acid dye used in RIT is a levelling class dye and not as washfast as some other acid dyes such as jacquard and may bleed a bit in the wash.

I feel however that I must mention that alot of dyes that many handspinners and dyers swear loyalty to (ashford, cushings, gaywool, landscapes) are also leveling dyes; they might not contain they same exact dyes, but they work in similar ways.

You didn’t mention what the fiber content of your yarn was. If it’s cotton, I’d suggest you’d buy some fiber reactive dye, but if it’s wool, or other animal fiber, then I’d say give it a shot.

Just remember when dyeing to use gloves and dedicated dyepots and utensils.

I would assume that the RIT dyes would be more washfast overall than food coloring but since food coloring is not tested for it’s use as a fabric dye, it’s hard to know.


Walter, I’m so glad you’ve joined. :thumbsup:
Your knowledge will be VERY helpful to some of us! :hug:

Thanks Sandeh!

I assure you though, I have more than enough stupid questions to ask to balance out the helpful answers.:lol:

You’ll fit right in, then! :teehee:

Would you use the same type of dye to dye linen?

Thanks, Walter! I can now dye my wool and not be nervous about it!

Also, I think I read somewhere that the issue with kool-aid wasn’t just washing, it was light.


KoolAid, I have read, works only on protein fibers, which is why it can be used to dye hair and wool. Cotton, I think, would be considered more of a starch, like wood.

I don’t know how dying cotton ease would work. Seems like the synthetic part might not take the dye as well so you could probably dye it but may not be able to end up with a very vibrant color.

Interesting to read about the Rit. I dyed an Ikea chair cover with purple rit and it came out looking great but after one wash it is faded already somewhat. Fortunately you don’t have to wash chair covers too often.

Cotton is a plant fiber.