If your curtains have lost their luster, breathe new life into them with a package of dye. Whether you have 96-inch panels or 36-inch kitchen curtains, you’ll save some cash by modifying the color instead of buying new window coverings. All-purpose dyes produce even results on all but polyester, acrylic and acetate fabrics. Review the dye's product label to confirm whether your fabric will accept colorant. Some brands work on polyester-cotton curtains that contain at least 60 percent cotton. However, you’ll waste your time if you don’t use the correct temperature of water, or if you let the wash cycle end too soon.
Things You'll Need
- All-purpose dye
- Color remover
- Washing machine
- Glass bowl
- 1 cup salt
- Rubber gloves
- Dye fixative
- Wooden spoon
- Dryer or clothesline
- 1 cup bleach
- Clothing iron or steamer
Choose a color, or select two colors to create an in-between color. Dye is available in liquid or powder form; the less you use, the lighter the final result will be. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the correct quantity of bottles or packages for the project.
Wash the curtains in the washing machine with a color-remover product if the fabric is dark. For white or light fabric, use detergent instead. Select hot water for the wash cycle and cold water for the rinse cycle. Place color remover or detergent in the detergent dispenser and start the machine. Remove the curtains after the rinse cycle has finished, but do not dry them.
Shake the bottles of liquid dye. Prepare powder dye by dissolving the concentrate in a glass bowl that contains 2 cups of hot water. Do not spill the solution or allow it to cool.
Pour 1 cup of salt into the washer tub if the curtains are ramie, cotton, linen or rayon.
Set the wash cycle to use hot water on the extended-wash setting. Put on rubber gloves. Start the washer and carefully pour the dye into the washer tub as soon as it’s filled with water. Do not pour dye into the detergent dispenser or spill dye on the floor.
Place the wet curtains in the machine and run the wash cycle for at least 30 minutes. For darker results, extend the wash cycle up to 1 hour. Rinse the curtains in the washer with cold water on the normal rinse cycle. Set the curtains aside.
Set the washer for a normal load. Select hot water for the wash cycle and cold water for the rinse cycle. Start the washing machine and allow the tub to fill with water. Using a large spoon, stir the manufacturer’s recommended amount of dye fixative into the water.
Place the curtains in the machine and run the wash cycle for 20 minutes. Allow the rinse cycle to run normally. Dry the curtains on the clothesline or in the dryer. Select low heat to prevent shrinkage.
Run an empty load in the washing machine on the hot-water setting. Add detergent and 1 cup of bleach to remove all traces of dye and fixative residue.
Iron or steam the curtains. Rehang them in the desired location.
Tips & Warnings
- For nylon or silk curtains, manufacturers sometimes suggest adding a cup of vinegar to the dye bath. Review the package instructions before adding vinegar.
- After dyeing and drying the curtains, add trim around the edges for a more custom look. Use fabric glue to attach fabric ribbon or twill tape.
- Although color fixatives improve colorfastness, bleeding may still occur in the washer. Wash curtains separately from other laundry as needed.
- Many manufacturers use polyester thread along the hem and edges of curtains. Synthetic thread will remain its original color after the dye process.
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images