It’s summer so why not try your hand at ice dyeing fabric? Ice dyeing is one of the more dramatic and easiest ways to dye fabric. After all, there’s no hot dye!

Ice dyeing is like watercolor on fabric where you don’t hold the brush!

closeup of ice dye fabric

In this post, I’ll tell you about the best fabrics for ice dyeing, the supplies you’ll need, the best dye to use for ice dye, and then I’ll walk you through the process so you can get on to giving some plain fabrics some big drama!

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pinterest image "how to ice dye fabric" showing closeup of ice dye jeans

What kind of fabric works well for ice dyeing?

You want to stick to natural fibers here. Ice dyeing is a cold-water process. Usually dye sticks better to fabric when it’s hot, and synthetic fabrics need not only a special dye, but near boiling temperatures. So put away your polyesters and acrylic fabrics for ice dyeing.

woman wearing ice dye jeans and t-shirt

100% cotton and 100% linen will be your best choices for ice dyeing, though experiment with other natural fibers. Ramie, rayon, hemp, wool, and silk can all be dyed this way as well.

Because it’s a cold water process, you need a dye that’ll work without having to be boiling. I’ve used regular powdered dyes from Dylon and RIT which do really well, but lately I’ve swapped out these for Procion MX dyes. They’re specifically made for cold water dyeing like dye tie, batik, and ice dyeing. The advantage here is that the Procion dyes give you seriously true brilliant colors with less dye.

Supplies to ice dye fabric

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ice dye supplies
  • Ice!: from your freezer, or a bag. 10 pounds will dye about 3-4 yards of fabric
  • tarp
  • Procion MX dye: Procion is specially formulated to work without heating up the dye, so this is awesome for ice dye projects. A couple different colors will help you get some of the multi-color effects. This pack has 8 different colors of Procion (*affiliate link). Dharma Trading has the widest selection of colors if you’re looking for something more specific.
  • Mask: a dust mask is smart because breathing in dye dust isn’t good!
  • Rubber gloves
  • Flat plastic tub + tall cookie rack (it should sit off the ground at least a few inches)
  • Plastic spoons: probably a few if you want to keep the dye colors separate
  • Soda ash (*affiliate): needed to help the dye be colorfast
  • optional: a blender

Getting ready to ice dye fabric

Prewash your fabric. For me, I have a pair of white denim jeans, cream cotton knit, and a white cotton stretch twill. Prewashing is going to remove anything that might be on your fabric that might prevent the dye from doing it’s thing well.

pouring soda ash into water to ice dye fabric

Next, dissolve 1 cup of soda ash into 1 gallon of water in the tub you’ll use for dyeing later. Mix it up really well with your gloved hands. Now, pop in your fabric of choice soak in the soda ash solution and let it soak for 15 minutes.

fabric soaking in soda ash solution

When the time is up, wring out the water back into your tub. You can save the rest of this solution for another dyeing project. Just put it in a container, mark it clearly, and put it someplace out of reach from kids.

Now it’s ice dyeing time!

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6 Comments

  1. Oh Elizabeth! You always do such amazing things with dye! I love it! Those jeans are gorgeous! The coloring is fabulous! And you are such a sweetie to share your process with others! If I ever decide to dye something again, I will definitely be coming to you for actual guidance! Thank you so much!

    • Thanks Myra! Ice dyeing is a great place to start–super simple with high rewards. And I’m so happy to be your dye coach anytime!

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