Waterproof Expert

Waterproofing tips & tricks


Can You Dye Waterproof Fabrics? It’s Challenging

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 Fabrics?

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.

The short answer is No. You cannot use dye on waterproof fabric. The DWR coating will prevent dye from penetrating the 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.

Here’s what happens if you try to dye waterproof and stain-resistant fabrics, according to RIT:

If the fabric is dyed, the resulting color will be as much as 50% lighter than the package color. We do not recommend dyeing these fabrics.

Dying waterproof fabrics may lead to reduced waterproofing or breathability.

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.

Alright, if you’re 100% sure you want to dye waterproof fabrics, follow the steps below to get the job done.

But do it at your own risk. 

⇒ Important Note

Dyeing waterproof clothes can ruin them by damaging the waterproof coating and altering their breathability, leading to reduced water resistance and discomfort during wear.

The dyeing process may also result in uneven or faded color, potential stains, and voiding of the manufacturer’s warranty, compromising the garment’s overall appearance and performance.

How Do You Dye Waterproof Fabrics?

To dye waterproof fabrics, take a pot, fill it up with water, and put it on the stove. Bring the water to an almost boiling point, then turn off the heat.

Add a dab of dishwashing soap and pour half a bottle of Rit DyeMore for Synthetics dye into the pot. Stir everything together.

Submerge your waterproof jacket in the water and use tongs to push it down and eliminate bubbles. Stir the jacket every five minutes or so.

Depending on how dark you want the color, leave the jacket in the dye for 60 or even 90 minutes.

When you’re done, rinse the jacket with warm and cool water. Repeat the process until the water runs clear.


Dyeing waterproof fabrics can be a challenging task due to the special coatings and treatments that make them water-resistant. The waterproofing treatments can prevent the fabric from absorbing regular fabric dyes properly, leading to uneven or ineffective dyeing.

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 July 2023.

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