How to Sun Dye with Kool-Aid

by Ragtimelil

Sun dyeing with Kool-Aid is a safe and fun way to experiment with dyeing for children and adults alike.

There is nothing like making something out of yarn that you dyed yourself. You can blend, mix and match or select the one color that you truly love.
Dyeing in the sun is easier that putting it on the stove, although you certainly can do that too. You can actually use other dyes to sun dye as well. Rit dyes and other powdered dyes also lend themselves to sun dyeing. So gather your dyes, your fibers, and we will get started.

Gather Materials

First you need something to dye. I’m using clean fleece that has been washed and combed. You can use clean fleece, roving or bats or spun yarn. These directions are for protein fiber. To use a plant fiber such as cotton, you would add salt rather than vinegar. Dyeing plant fibers can be tricky so I recommend starting with wool or another protein fiber such as alpaca, llama, goat or even dog hair.

You don't have to only use white fiber. Pale colors will over dye nicely but the results can be unpredictable. That is part of the fun of experimenting. Darker colors won't really show much change so stick to light colors



1-3 packages of unsweetened Kool-Aid  for each 2 oz. of fiber.

¼ cup vinegar

2 cups water

Putting it Together

soaking wool

Pre-soak your fiber in water for 20-30 minutes. A few drops of dish detergent will help it get wet.





Mix your dye bath with the Kool Aid, vinegar and water in a clean glass jar.


Add the fiber to the dye bath and set in the sun. If you need to boost the heat a bit, set the jar on something black like a trash bag.

Have You Ever Tried Sun Dyeing?

When It Is Done

exhausted dye bath








If your proportions are right, you will see the dye bath become exhausted. That means the water becomes clear as the dye is absorbed into the fiber. If you have too much dye, it won’t show clear water, but your fiber will still be dyed.

Multi Colors

You can dye a more mottled or multicolored pattern too. I did one batch with heavy and light areas. I had to leave it in a pan rather than in the glass jar so as not to disturb the variegation.

Varigated dye

To do two colors, you can dye one end of a skein on yarn in one jar, and put the other end in another jar in another color To blend loose fiber, just dye several batches of different colors and blend them with your cards.


 varigated yarn

Rit Dye

dyed wool

You can also dye with Rit dye using the same procedure. Rit dyes have a wider variety of colors and are pretty safe to use, although you want to avoid breathing the power.


This sample was sun dyed with Rit dye.



If the sun isn’t shining the day you want to dye, you can simmer your dye bath and fiber on the stove for 20-60 minutes or until it seems to be the color you want.

Updated: 08/17/2012, Ragtimelil
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Comments about dyeing or anything else.

wrapitup4me on 08/22/2012

Well, you might have to wait awhile - got a lot of project on before I get to that one. Might be more efficient if YOU give it a try and let US know. If I know me, I'll probably forget about this idea in a day or so unless someone reminds me. :)

Ragtimelil on 08/22/2012

I've never tried it on cotton, but try it on some little piece that you don't care about and see what happens! Let us know!

wrapitup4me on 08/22/2012

Would this work on t-shirts as well? Cotton sheets?

Ragtimelil on 07/31/2012

Absolutely! Have fun!

katiem2 on 07/31/2012

Oh wow i love his idea my daughter is going to have a ball creating stuff with this Kool Aid. What a fun variety of colors.

Ragtimelil on 07/30/2012

Thank you. It is simple, quick.and fun to do

2uesday on 07/30/2012

Good step by step instructions to dye wool with this interesting technique to get vibrant colors.

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