What Do I Do If I Spill Bleach On My Trousers?


As a dye specialist, this is the most common question that I am asked by people. I do not have a simple answer for this challenge.

Dye is translucent, not opaque. This means that the light actually passes through the colour and reflects off the white fabric behind it. Dye is see-through. When working with it, imagine working with sheets of coloured transparency film with light shining from behind.

It is this quality that leads to such vibrant results when experimenting with dyed techniques. It means that the base cloth can be seen through subsequent layers of dye. If the base is uneven, the next layer will also appear uneven.


It is very difficult to cover bleach marks. You will have to completely saturate the fibre to get rid of the mark. The lighter marks may reappear later in subsequent washes as the fabric fades again. Those particular fibres will always have less dye on them than those that were not bleached.


Bleach is very destructive, and if you did not wash it out thoroughly just after the spill happened, it is likely to damage the fibre. A fibre that has been softened in this way may not hold dye very well either. This further reduces your chances of solving the problem.


When faced with this dilemma (yes, I too am clumsy), there are only two routes that do not lead to more heartache:


If the spill is relatively small, I find a permanent black marker at my local stationer that is closest in colour and simply colour it in. Remember to keep the marker in your handbag because the ink is bound to fade and will need touching up once in awhile. (You will usually notice it on the way to a job interview or a meeting with an important investor.)


If the spill is large and the “koki-treatment” just too tacky, I simply go with the flow. I go outside to the hosepipe with the garment, the bottle of bleach, a syringe and some rubber gloves. I put on the rubber gloves, draw some bleach into the syringe and squirt it all over the garment to create an artistic dripped effect. As soon as I see the marks I want emerging, I spray the fabric off with the hosepipe to slow down the reaction.


Do not stand too close to such a project. The chlorine gas released by the reaction smells bad and can make you very ill. Try not to breathe in the fumes and wear a face mask if you have one.


I have created some fabulous “designer” garments for myself from some of my clumsier moments.


Wash the fabric thoroughly to remove all the bleach. How many washes will depend on how strong the bleach was that you used. When you can no longer smell it, you can stop washing. If you leave traces of bleach in the fabric, it will weaken the fibre and you can expect the garment to tear.


Good luck with your spill.


Written by Melanie Brummer

Author of Contemporary Dyecraft (Metz Press)

Rated one of the top 5 Tie Dye books of all time.

Order your copy on Amazon at the link below...


Read the review on Paula Burch's site at the link below...


Hot Or Cold Dye?


What is the difference between a Hot and a Cold reactive dye? One would think it is quite obvious; the one is used with hot water and the other with cold. Almost every commercial dye available is labelled this way. Unfortunately, for the consumer who buys this product, this labelling is a little misleading.


A Hot reactive dye requires boiling at one hundred degrees Celsius for the bond with the fabric to be permanent. A Cold reactive dye does not need to be boiled, but its optimum temperature is still sixty five to seventy degrees. If you measure this heat with a thermometer, you will see that it is still steaming hot. I have burned blisters on my skin at that temperature.


The other misconception that people have is that they assume the Hot dye is more colour-fast than the Cold one because you have boiled the colour in. This is not so. Cold dyes are more robust and colours will remain brighter for longer than Hot dyes. The cooler process is not only a little easier, it is also more lasting.


Cold reactive dyes are very reliable and used throughout the global clothing and textile industries to permanently colour fabrics made from plant fibres. The dyes react with the fibre on a molecular level to produce a permanent bond that withstands wash after wash. The colour becomes part of the fabric.


A Cold reactive dye is, in my opinion, the most convenient by far for the hobby dyer.


It can be used to dye any fabric that starts out as a plant, i.e. cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo. Any fabrics with these bases will bond with reactive dye, e.g. denim, twill, calico, muslin, T-shirting, towelling, corduroy, cotton velvet, viscose, track suiting, poplin and cheesecloth.


Cotton/lycra and viscose/lycra blends also work well, providing the lycra content is under five percent. Reactive dye does not bond to lycra. Poly/cotton blends will only take the dye partially. The cotton fibres that run in one direction will take up the dye normally, but the polyester fibres that run in the other direction will remain white.


Because these dyes are used at high temperatures, expect your fabric to shrink.


The fabric is woven on a loom in the factory, where it takes its dimensions from the equipment. From there it is usually put through a stent which steams the fabric into the desired dimensions for shipping. Sometimes there are variances in fabrics that come off the same equipment. Research has shown that such variances are caused by differences in the cotton fibres used. A fabric made from a crop that has had more water will behave differently from one that had less water in the field. Fabric stability is fibre-specific and will vary from one roll to the next.


Most cotton fabrics shrink about ten percent in the length. The width is usually stable to within one or two percent.

22 August 2016

Why kids of ALL AGES love tie dye!

* They have to dress up to do it…We recommend kids kit up with mask and apron to make tie dye. This will protect their clothes from spills that stain. By far their favourite is the latex gloves they have to put on to keep their hands clean. I am told they make for very good water bombs when you are ten years old.


* It gets messy! Most kids enjoy activities that are messy…of course!?


* They play with color. Most children love to play with bright colors. Color is known to stimulate the brain in a number of ways.


* They work with their hands. Tie dye improves strength and fine motor co-ordination in the hands. Children are forced to work with both hands using string and elastic bands.


* They have to follow a set of instructions from beginning to end, in order to achieve a desired result. This teaches children to read, concentrate, think logically and analyse their results. All skills they can use in later life.


* It gives them a sense of achievement and self-worth. Having successfully made something on their own fills a child with a great sense of pride which leads to more confidence in their own abilities.


* Tie dye lends itself to self-expression and uniqueness. Children learn about uniqueness and the beauty of a hand-made thing. These are old-fashioned values that have been lost in our mass produced society.


* The Wow Moment! Kids love the moment when the bindings come off and the end result is finally revealed. I call it the Wow Moment. After more than tweny years, I still experience it every time I open a new tie dye.


* They get to wear what they have made. Kids get an even bigger boost to their confidence when they are praised for work well done. Every time they wear their tie dye, somebody will tell them how beautiful it is, or ask where they got it.


* Conclusion…tie dye is a kids-confidence-builder…and it is fun!