Many people are wondering whether it’s OK to dye waterproof fabrics or not. Well, this largely depends on the type of fabric you want to dye.
One of my friends who’s also an avid hiker asked me the same question just a few days ago. He simply didn’t like the color of his outdoor jacket so he wanted to change it.
I did the research work for him and I thought it would also be a good idea to share my findings with you.
Can I dye waterproof fabric?
You can’t dye waterproof fabrics. They have an outer Durable Water Repellent coating that blocks liquids and dye from penetrating them. The waterproofing treatment prevents dye from actually getting into the fabric.
So, the short answer is No. You cannot use dye on waterproof fabric.
Dyeing waterproof clothes will ruin them
Legend says that if you want to dye waterproof fabric, you should first use fabric softener to break the DWR coating.
If you do that, you will only end up ruining your waterproof clothes, fabric or whatever item you want to dye. Of course, by using fabric softener or regular detergents to wash your waterproof items, you will eventually remove part of the waterproof coating.
This means the dye may penetrate through parts of the fabric but you will not get an even color.
Of course, there are various spray solutions available on the market that you can use to dye outdoor fabric such as umbrellas, backpacks, boat covers, and so on. Usually, the range of colors is quite limited. Most of the waterproof outdoor fabric spray paint solutions are either black, grey or charcoal.
And no, you can’t use these solutions on waterproof clothes (your hiking jacket for example) without ruining your gear.
You can’t dye waterproof fabrics. They don’t allow dye to penetrate them. When buying waterproof clothes, make sure they’re the right color because dyeing them is impossible.
Have you run any waterproof fabric dyeing experiments? Do tell me more about what happened in the comments below.
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Updated in October 2021 to add additional information.