What is Fabric Dye

Fabric dye is a natural or synthetic substance that is used to add colour to or change the colour of the fibres of fabric.

In this blog, we discuss the history of Fabric Dye, the difference between natural and synthetic dyes, and how it compares to Fabric Paint.

History of Dyeing Fabric

Fabric Dyes were originally derived from natural sources such as plants, trees, insects, and minerals.

Typically, the dye source is put into water and heated to extract the pigment. The fabric to be dyed is the added to the water and held at heat until the desired colour is achieved. This process of using dyes to change the colour of fabric has changed little over time.

After the first synthetic dye was discovered in 1856, the use of natural dyes slowly declined, and the rise of synthetic dyes started.

Synthetic Fabric Dye

Synthetic fabric dye works by chemically bonding to the material that it is applied to.

Unlike natural dyes that were never exactly alike in hue and intensity, synthetic dyes can be easily manufactured consistently and in large quantities which explains the rise in popularity in the fashion and textile industry.

However, there are many causes for concerns regarding the effects that the dying process has on the environment.

During the dyeing process, fabric is submerged into water. Once the desired colour has been achieved, the water containing dye residue, fixatives and hazardous chemicals are then expelled into water streams.

As well as polluting essential drinking water, this can result in the death of aquatic life and the ruining of soils for crops and other food sources.

The chemicals used in synthetic fabric dyes can also cause respiratory diseases, and skin irritations such as contact dermatitis. These issues are most prevalent in the workers who are dyeing the fabric as they are around the chemicals most of the time.

For this reason, manufacturers are always looking for more ethical and eco-friendly ways to colour fabric.

Fabric Dye vs Fabric Paint

The main difference between fabric dye and fabric paint is the way in which they are applied/used to colour fabric.

Unlike a dye, fabric paint does not require steaming or boiling to fix the colour to the fibres. It can be applied by brush, cloth, or spray applicator, making it much more environmentally friendly and convenient to use.

Spray painting fabric is easy and can be used on upholstery, soft furnishings, car interiors, clothing, footwear, and all other fabric materials. It allows for anyone to simply pick up a bottle and apply to any fabric to restore or change the colour.

Being a paint, it can also be used to create individual designs and patterns which is much more difficult with a fabric dye.

Due to being water-based, rather than synthetic, fabric paint is also non-toxic and non-hazardous so is safe to use.

Like a fabric dye, once applied fabric paint remains soft and flexible. It soaks into all absorbent materials and once dry, will not change the texture or cause it to go stiff.

Our thoughts

After much testing and research, we recommended using Fabric Paint to restore or change the colour of any item of fabric, textile, or canvas.

That is why we created Fabricoat.

It allows for much more versatility and is a much safer way to dye fabrics.

See how our Fabric Paint performs on this video.