Can Acrylic Yarn Be Dyed? Full answer and guide

You have a beautiful, colorful skein of acrylic yarn that you want to dye. Acrylic is not the most popular type of yarn because it’s often stiff and scratchy. It can also be difficult to dye without fading or running colors together, but is it possible to dye acrylic yarn?

Yes! Acrylic yarn can be dyed with any dye that will work on non-synthetic fibers, such as Kool-Aid, fruit juice, or even black coffee. Dyeing your acrylic yarn at home is possible with some patience and care!

Because acrylic is man made and not a natural fiber it doesn’t need to be processed like natural fabrics do before dying because all the processing has already been done for you in creating the fabric.

This also means it will take the color much more quickly than natural fabrics do and keep it longer. For this reason if you want vibrant colors we recommend using yarn that is at least 50% acrylic content so there’s enough of the fiber in there to hold onto all those pigment molecules and vibrate with color vibrancy and it lasts well beyond what you might get with natural fibers. This is one of the reasons acrylic is becoming more popular in yarns.

Acrylic yarn is equipped with the least breathing abilities and thus, they are a much-preferred option for retaining heat. Acrylic fibers are used in gloves, hoodies, sweaters, upholstery, and carpets.

Dyes working for natural fiber may not be suitable for acrylic material since it is a synthetic substance. Even acid dyes get washed off leaving back a temporary residue.

Ordinary dyes do not work well with acrylic yarn and if you want to dye it, it’s suggested that you start with a light hue. Even though disperse dye is the best option for dying the acrylic yarn, it is a time taking process. So, if you try dying your acrylic yarn with a dispersed dye, make sure you have a chunk of time to dedicate to coloring the yarn.

How Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn?

There are ways to dye acrylic yarn with natural materials, such as tea or onion skins. You can also create vinegar-based solutions to use in your desired colors.

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First, you will need to soften the acrylic yarn in order to prepare it for dying. The type of acrylic used for novelty yarn is usually very stiff from being stretched during production and has a hard, glossy surface as a result.

You can use vinegar or lemon juice mixed with salt water to lay your acrylic yarn out flat so that it becomes softer and more flexible. You can achieve this by soaking the yarn in warm salt water or vinegar and then laying it out on newspapers spread across your kitchen floor. It should take between 24 and 72 hours for it to dry depending on how much you soaked the yarn

Alternatively, if you do not wish to wait that long, try placing your yarn into an oven preheated to 80 degrees Celsius or 176 degrees Fahrenheit. You will have to turn the yarn over every few minutes until it is flexible and soft, which should take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Another way to treat your acrylic yarn is by running hot water through it. This method will not allow you to dye the same shade repeatedly, but it does make the yarn softer for dyes that are not as likely to fade.

If you wish to use dyes that are not made from natural sources, there are ways of making these dyes stick better. First, make a solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of salt per litre/quart of warm water in a resealable plastic baggie with your dyed yarn for 20 minutes. Make sure all parts of your yarn are submerged in the solution.

You can leave your finished dyed acrylic yarn out to dry or place it into an oven preheated to 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to set the dyes. Acrylic material is highly flammable, so do not leave it unattended during this step!

In general, mordant is a metal-based mineral with considerable toxicity. Alum is also a good mordant and you can use it for dying your old acrylic yarnNext, you will need a large container and dyes. You may easily source natural dyes such as nettles, fruit skins, berries, beet root, onion skins, and hordes of other flowers and fruits. 

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If you are looking for a solid color all over the yarn, take the color and mix it up in the whole yarn. Make sure that the concertation is very high so that the fibers can soak up the color.

Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn With Coffee?

Yes, you can dye acrylic yarn with coffee. Acrylic is a synthetic substance and coffee dyes better for natural fibers. Dissolve the coffee in water first to make a dark, strong solution before submerging your acrylic yarn in it.

You may need to let go of the homemade dye every few minutes to keep the water below boiling point so that you do not crack or break your acrylic

We have often seen that the dye we choose ends up giving a completely different color and texture as end result. But that’s not true with coffee. You can expect coffee to give a rich brown color that’s going to last night matter how many times you wash the acrylic yarn.

The first step is to wash out the yarn completely to smoothen out the texture and make it softer. If you are really interested in finishing off the project fast, you may skip this step. But it goes without saying that washing the yarn helps the dye to spread through the yarn evenly. Plus, it is a sure-shot way to make sure that there is no chemical attached to the yarn which may alter the end color of the yarn. 

First of all, fill up a large pot with soap flakes and warm water. Make sure that your chosen pot is not made of metal as it may alter the color of the dye. It’s a good practice if you can keep the utensils separate from the ones you use for cooking. Then allow the yarn to have a cozy warm bath and refrain from agitating the fibers. 

Your next work is to prepare a strong bowl of coffee and keep it saved. You will need some hp with mordant. Although tea naturally comes with tannin, coffee would require some help with alum. Then you may soak the entire yarn in the pot of brewed coffee, and allow it to rest for overnight if possible.

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The next morning, the acrylic yarns are ready to be brought out and hung for drying. As the moisture fades, you can gradually see the new brown hue caught up beautifully in the fibers of your acrylic yarn. 

Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn With Hair Dye?

Acrylic yarn can be dyed well with hair dye, provided you follow the right steps to create the desired effects.

Begin with mixing up a huge quality of hair dye in a large mixing pot. The basic rule of thumb is to make sure that the whole quantity of the yarn immerses within the color. Otherwise, you will get patchy and shady colors. 

Alternately, you may also choose to brush the dye in the yarn. But for that, you will have to extra careful so that you don’t end up applying the dye here and there. Contrary to coffee, you will not need any mordant here. Plus, the time taken for the color to soak up is less than an hour. 

If you want a patchy effect on the acrylic yarn rather than creating a single, solid color, you may use a syringe for injecting the dye in your chosen spots. Combing the yarn can help the color to seep through. If you are a pro at dying, you may choose between several dying techniques to create an amazing effect. 

If you have a natural inclination towards craft and take part in such activities in your leisure time, then acrylic dying can be a fruitful way of spending time. It’s a brilliant way to engage your children as well. When you have an old acrylic yarn with its colors faded off, you may use any natural or synthetic dyes that you have to bring about a new color to your old and dilapidated acrylic yarn. So, what are you waiting for? Happy dyeing!