How to Use Reactive Dye? Get the Detail Instructions!

Reactive dye is popularly used to dye cotton, linen, tencel, modal, bamboo fiber. To dye with reactive dye you must be careful.

Dye is added to the neutral bath then gradually the pH is increased. pH should be maintained properly otherwise uneven dyeing will take place.

Reactive dye-fiber bond is permanent as this creates a covalent bond with the fiber. By following the below process you can dye your fabric easily at home. Use this method for solid dyeing.

How to Use Reactive Dye Step by step process:

Wash your fabric before dyeing: Pre-washing is a pre-requisite for dyeing. This is an important step which can’t be skipped at all. This can make a huge difference.

Wash your fabric using hot water and a quarter cup Synthrapol or any good quality detergent to remove all dirt, grease, soiling or hand marks also. Enzyme detergents can be used to wash the fabric.

If it is not possible then use soda ash along with it. Good alkali boiling is a necessary step while dyeing with cold brand reactive dye as it is very difficult to penetrate dyes into the fiber at such a lower temperature.

No need to heat press or use any sizing materials. Once your fabric is completely washed off, all the dirt will come out. This will make the fabric prepared for dyeing.

Prepare dye paste: Add some warm water to the dye powder and make a smooth paste of it with continuous stirring. Dye should be dissolved properly otherwise uneven dyeing will take place.

Then add a cup of warm water to dissolve the dye particles properly. Finally, add this to the warm water in dye pot and stir evenly. Some dyes like red, purple, black or brown can be difficult to dissolve.

To dissolve this dye Urea is the best option. 1 tbsp urea can be mixed with a cup of warm water. This will give a lump and freckle free smooth dye paste and make all the dye particles dissolved in it.

Dissolve the salt: Add the non-ionized salt with the warm water and dissolve it completely. Then add this to the dye pot. Glauber’s salt or regular salt can be added.

To reduce surface tension, a wetting agent can be added. Lisapol or Calsolene oil can be added to the dye bath. If you are using a turquoise color, be careful with it.

These dye particles are larger than other dye particles. They get darker and brighter while mixed with salt.

Add the fabric: Gently, stir the mixture for about 20 minutes. It should be done frequently. Then add your washed fabric to it. If the load is too heavy or you are too busy, then you can go for washing machine for agitation and proper mixing.

Add Soda ash: Add soda ash to the warm water to dissolve it properly then add the mixture to the dye pot slowly with continuous stirring. The soda ash solution should be mixed slowly.

This is highly recommended. If you add the whole mixture at one stroke, dark pathches or uneven shades will produce. If you use washing machine for agitation, while adding soda ash turn off the machine.

Add soda ash solution manually. Move the fabric to one side and add the soda solution on the other side and keep stirring. Then transfer them to the washing machine and continue agitation for the next 30 minutes.

Wash out excess dyestuff: Finally, rinse the fabric with running water to remove all the residual alkali, salt or hydrolysed dye particles. Then wash the fabric with warm water adding synthrapol or good quality detergent. If required, a second wash can be given for dark colors.


Amount of salt, alkali or other chemical whatever we say, it is a function of the amount of water. The amount of dye is a function of load weight.

Dye: Use 1 tbsp dye for 1 lb of fabric or 1 kg dye for 100 kg fabrics depending on shades.

For 1 lb fabric,

Salt required = 3 cups

Water required= 3 gallons

Soda required= one-third cup

Calsolene oil required= 2 tbsp

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