Garment dyeing: Don't waste your time or your money

You tried to remove a stain from a “dry clean only” red silk dress that you’d only worn once or twice with water, club soda or some other DIY product.

Unfortunately, you also removed some of the surrounding color from the fabric.

Can you save the dress by dyeing it, say, black or navy?

Here’s the bad news: In all probability, you won't be able to save the dress, irrespective of the color you might choose.

Here’s why...

  • garment dyeing is a highly inexact mixture of art and science. There are many variables to be considered and the final result cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty.
  • your expectation that the red silk dress will be magically transformed into a like-new, black or navy silk dress is unrealistic. More likely than not, you’ll be very disappointed with the results. The garment will probably be unwearable, and you’ve just spent a lot of money to prove it.

Here are some of the problems you’ll encounter:

Shrinkage & Loss of Texture

Dyeing is a water-based process involving heat. Shrinkage is always a risk. And the garment may lose some of the “hand” or feel typically associated with silks.

There’s a good reason the garment manufacturer put a “dry clean only” label in that red silk dress.

Inconsistent Color

The overall color of the garment may be inconsistent, blotchy or streaky. Especially in the area of the stain or color loss - the very area you’re trying to “fix”.

Inexact Color

You cannot select the exact color you want, nor can the dyer predict the final color that might be achieved.

For example, if you asked for black, you might end up with dark gray.

Unmatched Color

Many natural fiber garments, such as your red silk dress, have synthetic fiber components such as polyester or nylon thread and a nylon zipper. These synthetic components will not “take” the dye. So you could end up with a black (or dark gray or navy) silk dress with red seams, red button holes and a red zipper.

What’s more, if all the primary components (fabric and thread) were silk, the fabric and thread may end up different shades of the same color.


So what’s our overall advice?

Don’t waste your time or your money on dyeing.

And, in the future, don't apply "product", don't rub, don't wipe.

Instead, leave the stain removal to the pros.