13 How to Save Clothing using Rit Dye

Continuing with the digging-through-a-bunch-of-old-photos (remember #thriftscorethursday last week?!), I came across these pics on a successful experiment attempted years ago while fixing a dress with Rit Dye. It was back when I was renting from my pops, hence there’s a stove (remember we don't own one) and some old-school vinyl... the flooring not the records. And today I’m going to show you How to Save Clothing using Rit Dye:

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Before and After | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

This pretty little dress almost brought me to tears after washing it ONE time before even getting the chance to wear it. You see those pretty little *evil* red-dyed-wooden beads? Well, the dye from suckers seeped onto the fabric part of the dress during its first solo wash of doom.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Before | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

Oh and that fateful machine wash managed to LIGHTEN the dress, somehow. It used to be a very light and pretty ivory color which happened to be one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I assure you, I followed all the ‘care instructions’ with light colors yadda yadda yadda and didn’t even use bleach! To this day, it still remains a mystery.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Before: Close-up | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

Anyway, I was determined to fix it. I mean I hadn’t actually WORN the thing yet- there’s no way that baby was getting thrown away, just because it looked like I spilled fruit punch on it! So I figured let’s just dye the dress a darker color. That should take care of the pink-ish spot aaand blue is a lot easier to wear than ivory/white anyway. Plus the Rit Dye packet was inexpensive (with coupon!) and all the other materials were just lying around.

Now my experience in dyeing at this point was extremely limited. As in, the last time I was involved in the process was tie-dyeing shirts as a kid. Beyond that, I had never attempted solo dyeing.

Using my newly founded dress-saving mentality, I read the included Rit Dye package directions forwards and backwards. Still having a bazillion questions, I turned to Google. There were TONS of tutorials but ended up settling on the guides provided by Rit Dye themselves. Best go to the direct source right?! 
How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Website

Here is where I must tell you, the entire process wasn’t as difficult as I was making it out to be. Even after my little blunder (you’ll see later on), the overall process isn’t NEARLY as bad as what you think. Seriously, you CAN DO THIS!!

Now, before I get into the process, I must tell you that the supply quantities and some specific methods (like the salt addition) were based on my specific material type and weight. My dress is mostly cotton and it was dyed by itself without anything else. Mostly because it was my first attempt and I didn’t want to ruin anything else. I also removed those darn dyed beads using a seam ripper- without wanting to destroy them I may add- prior to getting my dye on. I assure you, the additional tips and methods are still worth giving a read before starting your project.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Supplies | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

  • *1 package Rit Dye, in your color choice (I used the powder stuff) *
  • 5-gallon bucket (be sure it’s one you don’t mind getting stained) 
  • Mild non-bleach Laundry Detergent (any brand will do) 
  • 1 cup salt (for richer color) **
  • Rubber Kitchen Gloves
  • Spaghetti Server (this could get stained) 
  • 3 gallons water 
Not shown: 
  • A tablespoon 
  • Cleaning rags (that you don’t mind getting stained) 
  • Plastic Paint Sheet (available at the dollar store) 
  • Bleach cleaner (exclusively for cleanup) 
  • Pots to boil water 
*If your garment wasn’t originally white, or very light colored, you may need to use a color remover to get an accurate color result. Also if they don’t have a specific color you’re looking for, you can try to mix your own using their formula conversion chart here. I have yet to try this but it looks like a FUN science experiment!! 

**This dress was mostly made of cotton which suggested using salt for a richer color (also use this method with linen, ramie, ramie, or linen).

Follow the included package instructions and a little help from Rit Dye's handy tutorial. Here are the main steps along with a few things I picked up along the way:

1 | Place the detergent, gloves, spaghetti server, cleaning rags, bleach and tablespoon in the area you plan to rinse and clean up your mess. In my case, the bathroom. Lay out the plastic near the tub or sink where you plan to wash your garment. It pays to move rugs, the good towels, or anything else that you don’t want accidentally ruined by dye- out of your project zone.

2 | Boil enough water that your item can move around freely (I used approximately 3 gallons). I used a couple of the biggest pots I could find. While it boils, microwave 2 cups of water.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Instructions: Boil Water | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

3 | After the three gallons of water are boiling, dissolve the Rit Dye packet into the microwaved water, and stir vigorously. And then stir some more.

4 | Empty the three gallons of boiled water to your 5-gallon bucket.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Instructions: Mixing | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

5 | I failed to do this and regretted it later: Carefully transport your hot water bucket and the microwaved dye water to the area where you chose to clean up in Step 1.

6 | Put on your rubber gloves. Then add the microwaved dye water to the hot water bucket and do a quick gentle stir. I expected to see the water turn a navy color, instead it looked like a deep purple at this point, to which I had a brief moment of panic. No worries, like Kool-Aid looks can be deceiving at this point. 

7 | Fully submerse your item and begin agitating the water using the spaghetti server. Pretend you’re making Jell-O, stir enough to mix it up but not too much that it spills everywhere.

8 | After 5 minutes add the 1 cup salt and 1 tablespoon detergent. Continue agitating as long as your water stays warm or up to an hour.

9 | Rinse in warm water until the water runs clear. Then switch to cold water for a couple minutes.

10 | Hand wash your item with detergent and hang dry.

11 | Clean up affected dyed areas with bleach cleaner immediately to prevent permanent stains. 

Couple things to note:

  • If you happen to drip or spill any of the dyed water, spot clean with the bleach cleaner as quickly as possible. Be sure to rinse your gloves before continuing the agitation/handling your garment. 
  • For the first couple washes, hand wash so that any remaining dye (there shouldn’t be much) affects any of your other clothes. 

Now, even after all the research, the preparation and all around careful precautions… the unthinkable happened. I hung up my garment in the tub to dry, you know just in-case any more dye was going to drip off.

When I went to immediately clean the tub (per the directions), I accidentally got bleach on my newly dyed dress. And a pink-ish bleach spot appeared:
How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Bleach Spot Error | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com


After a minor internal fit, it was back to square one. I picked up the color remover from Rit Dye and followed the instructions and let the dress dry overnight.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Color Remover Process | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

The next morning, I repeated the whole navy blue dyeing one more time. To my luck, it was a success. The only minor imperfection was that the fabric was a tiny bit ‘thinner’ where the bleach spot once was.

How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Fixed Bleach Spot | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com
The actual color is off in the photo, it's darker in person, and the slight pink-ish color went away after a few washing's.

Moral of the story: BE CAREFUL with bleach, then put your Captain Careful Cape on and be even more careful.

In order to prevent any more dyed-wooden bead accidents (even though it’s now Navy Blue), I spray painted those suckers white and hand sewed them into place. 
How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- Spray Painted Beads | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

And the rest is history:
How to Save Clothing Using Rit Dye- After | www.blackandwhiteobsession.com

If I hadn’t spilled bleach on my dress after the first dye-session, the whole process would have been less daunting. Like they always say, live and learn right?!

Were the results worth it?! Absolutely. I STILL wear the dress to this day, no matter how many ‘seasons’ ago it was (even wore it for a special Independence Day What I Wore Fantastic Friday). Would I do it again?! Well let’s just say it surely hasn’t stopped me from going on a dye-spree.

Have you ever been flat out stubborn bound and determined to fix something just because you loved it so much?!

P.S. I was not paid or perked from Rit Dye or any other pictured/talked about vendors; I just happily picked up the supplies necessary for the job.



  1. Great save! Does this mean you wear more than just black and white?! ;O Loved how you sprayed the necklace I'm curious if it will get chippy and kinda shabby or stay perfect after a few washes. I think this just brought you up to fashionista status!

    1. Bahaha, I DO wear more than black and white!!

      I, too, was worried about the chipping -especially since I used the 'el cheap-o stuff back then- so far so good! I should also mention it has been probably three years since I dyed and wore this dress a couple times a summer! Since I never want to lose the dress again, I try to keep an eye on it and use the gentle cycles along with COLD water!

  2. I've used the dye for the same reason already. Turned out awesome

  3. What an adventure!! I love dying stuff.. the only problem is that the clothes I wear when I dye.. need to be dyed when I'm done since I'm such a slob!! ;)

    1. Haha, I'm a messy crafter too (hence the bleach incident above)!

  4. Popping over from The Makers Link Up Party! I had to read this just because it looked fun. I thought to myself I'll never do that but... I do have a couple white shirts with less than appealing armpits... I wonder if I could save them with dye? Thanks for the idea!

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for stopping by!! I would think dye would totally save them. If I may suggest- that color remover works WONDERS and its only like $2. If you don't like the result you could always pick an amazing color and dye them all together!

  5. I <3 your dress! Prettier with your new colors too:) Pinned

  6. You just reminded me that I have been meaning to do this with a maternity dress I used to own. YES, I said maternity dress even though I am not anywhere NEAR thinking of having another baby. But it was soooo cute, and I couldn't think of getting rid of it, even though I wasn't pregnant anymore. And I had spilled bleach spots on it. Thanks for the reminder and instructions! :)

    Serena @ Thrift Diving

    1. I've purchased some clothing that are borderline maternity style- you know baggy in the front and they're adorable. No shame in wearing pretty stuff!! Plus its SUPER comfy!! I'd love to see the before and afters!!

  7. I had some similar beads in a bracelet that turned my arm reddish brown when I wore them! You did a great rescue and I appreciate that you made those little mistakes so we don't have to - you are so kind, thanks!


Comments make my heart go pitter-patter! Your comment may not appear right away as they are manually accepted.

Pin It button on image hover