Tinting Faded Clothes {Frugal Fashion}

I routinely dye my clothes – well not dye them, tint them. There is a difference. Dyeing will change the colour, tinting will deepen the current colour.  I haven’t found clothing dye readily available in Canada so I’ve stuck with tinting.

I tint clothes that are faded (maybe once a year I dye my blacks, navys and greys), darken my denim, deepen the colour of clothes or try and adjust the shade (from light to darker blue). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Here is how you do it at home in your washing machine (following the instructions in the box)….
Fill with hot water, powdered dye and stir
Get clothes wet and then add to washing machine. Wash on normal cycle. Dry in the dryer or hang to dry.
Here are some of my before and afters:
Darkening Denim (using black and a bit of navy)
Deepening the GREYs (with charcoal)

After (the sweater on the right didn’t change much, the scarf didn’t change at all and the shirt in the middle here is the second from the top in the before pic)
Refreshing the Green
Before (white cardigan green polo)
After (I don’t love the cardi colour but the polo looks very refreshed)

Trying out the OMBRE TEE
Start with a clean white tee
Fill the basin with green dye and gradually drop the tee down – trying hard not to splash or get any residue on the portion I want to remain white. Remember that the shirt will ‘suck up’ some of the dye upward so put the shirt into the liquid dye to lower than the level you want dyed.

Hang to dry


There will be some mess in the machine after dyeing in it.  Just wipe the basin with a rag. I always like to do a load of rags or ‘work’ laundry after just in case there is any residue (though there never has been in my experience).
If you are tinting more than one colour start with the lightest colour (like yellow) and work up to the dark (like navy and black). That way any residue in the washer won’t hamper your next dye job efforts.


Some fabrics won’t accept the dye, and then some portions of the clothes won’t accept the dye (like stitching, seen below).   You may end up with a botched dye job.

Pink and grey shirt I tried dying blue – the pink stitching didn’t take the dye though.

DYE LIKE WITH LIKEI tried dying a red scarf and white shirt with a  yellow dye – but the red out of the scarf made everything a horrible mustard colour!


These clothes didn’t take to green very well, so I soaked them in a bucket of strong bleach solution. The collared shirt came out ok (kind of a butter colour), but goodbye to the patterned tee – it just looks dirty.


As I said, I can’t find dye in Canada. I tried to buy RIT dye online but they don’t ship here.  I feel you will get deeper colour changes and better results with dye.  If you live in the states you can bye RIT DYE, check out their website and blog page for lots of great ideas and colour formulas.
Stick with tinting white clothes (you will get a pastel shade of the colour you are tinting to) – or tint the clothes colour in the same shade to darken it. If you expect a new and vibrant colour with a tint you will be disappointed.


After the clothes are tinted there will be some colour leaching during the first couple washes – keep this in mind and put like colours with likes.

I would love to see your dye projects or hear any tips you have!

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