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About Direct Dyes: Direct dyes are a class of hot water dyes for use on cellulose fibers, such

as cotton. It is one of the two types of dyes that are mixed in 'all purpose dyes' such as Rit, Tintex Hot Water dye, and Dylon Multipurpose Dye. (The other type in the mixture is an acid dye, which will not stay in any cellulose fiber for long.) Try to find them pure, without the useless (for cotton) and money-wasting acid dyes mixed into the 'all-purpose' dyes. In most cases, better results will be obtained, often with versatile and easier-to-use cool water methods, if you use fiber reactive dye instead of direct dye. However, there are some cases in which direct dye is preferred.

duller in color and poorly washfast: The colors of most direct dyes tend to be duller than those provided by fiber reactive dyes, especially after fading in the laundry. The washfastness of direct dyes is poor: expect anything dyed with them to 'bleed' forever. They lack the permanence of the cold water fiber reactive dyes which most hand-dyers prefer for use on cellulose fibers. As a result, clothing dyed with direct dyes should be laundered in cool water only, with closely similar colors. The washfastness problem can be reduced by following dyeing with the use of a cationic after-treatment such as Retayne Inexpensive: The main reason why direct dyes are used is because of cost. Although the widely available all-purpose dyes which contain a mixture of direct and acid dyes are very expensive, per pound of fabric to be dyed, direct dyes sold alone and purchased in bulk are among the cheapest of all dyes single dye bath:

many direct dyes are less resistant to light than similarly-hued fiber reactive dyes. the cationic dye fixatives. not all are. but they will also color silk and wool unless dyeing is accompanied by a chemical 'reserving agent'. There are just a few cases in which a particular direct dye may be more lightfast than similar shades of fiber reactive dyes (see About Lightfastness). so direct dyes are generally much less bright in color than fiber reactive dyes. while large dye molecules tend to be duller (as there are more parts that can absorb additional wavelengths of light). which is the tendency of the dye to associate with the dye without strong bonds. so direct dyes tend to be large. and both tend to be less lightfast than vat dyes. while the Turquoise Reactive Blue 140 rates 5-6 on that scale. too: Direct Dyes are used on cellulose fibers such as cotton. or contrasting effects. which unfortunately is unavailable to home dyers (except. as an element in Alter Ego's very expensive proprietary 'fixative' lightfastness Direct dyes are not generally more lightfast than fiber reactive dyes. how direct dyes bond to the fiber Direct dyes are only loosely associated with the fiber molecule through the property called substantivity. For example. the popular Colour Index Reactive Orange 4 rates only 4 on that scale. as in the case of AlterEgo brand dyes). Substantivity is said to result . typically between 175°F and 200°F.Direct dyes are applied in hot water. perhaps. such as Retayne. with a rating of 6 (on a scale of 1 to 8). Unfortunately. protein fibers. as in all-purpose dyes. While some fiber reactive oranges are as lightfast. rayon. and linen. that are required to render the washfastness of direct dyes acceptable also reduce lightfastness somewhat. Small dye molecules tend to be bright. This substantivity is increased by increasing the size of the dye molecule. They can be applied in the same boiling-water dyebath with acid dyes (whether for same-color effects. Colour Index Direct Orange 39 and Direct Blue 86 are quite reasonably lightfast.

from a combination of the relatively weak Van der Waals forces and some hydrogen bonding.) A cationic dye fixative. where to buy direct dyes PRO Chemical & Dye's old list of direct dyes and their Colour Index numbers DIAZOL DIRECT DYES: name PRO Chem # c. works very well to make fabric dyed with direct dyes washable without bleeding of the dye. (Vinegar is not among them! In spite of claims you may see to the contrary. solving the washfastness problem for direct dye All direct dyes perform rather poorly with respect to washfastness. Aljo and Dharma have their own brand names of similar products. perhaps your local quilter's supply shop will. However. too. direct dyes bleed a little with every washing. Without an appropriate after-treatment. as well. See Sources for Dyeing Supplies for contact information. number Lemon Yellow C150 Direct Yellow 50 Brilliant Pink Scarlet Basic Red Brilliant Blue Jet Black Blue Black C309 Direct Red 9 C323 Direct Red 23 C380 Direct Red 80 C488 Direct Blue 293 C622 Direct Black 22 C680 Direct Black 80 Greenish Blue C482 Direct Blue 98 Neutral Brown C516 Direct Brown 116 Dharma's Industrial dyes are eight different colors of direct dyes—"not as washfast or as bright as our other dyes. but easy & cheap". if you're lucky. to mail-order these products. such as Retayne. losing their brightness and endangering other clothes washed in the same load. which essentially "glues" the dye into the fiber. They are . ProChem and Dharma Trading Company both carry Retayne. there are special after-treatments which may be used to solve this problem. you cannot use vinegar to set any dye on cotton or other cellulose materials.i.

and Yellow. Cardinal and Canary.25 grams of dye. and the manufacturer reports that all of them are proprietary blends. as in many brands. less than is required for most dye types. Aljo Mfg. thus. which allows you to learn much more about what materials you are using. with prices being set lower for the less expensive dyes. and a Sun Blocker. There are two groups of primary colors: the lighter set is Scarlet. The two kinds of dyes may be mixed in order to dye cotton/polyester blends in a single dyebath. Specific identities of the individual dyes used in iDye are unknown to this writer. Light Blue or Copenhagen Blue. which will appear to glow under sunlight or a blacklight. The different colors have different costs. Two noteworthy members of the iDye line are a fluorescent yellow. while the darker would be Blue. as it is packaged in individual-use packets like Rit or Tintex all-purpose dye. sells the same direct dyes that ProChem used to. data for lightfastness and washfastness are not available and require testing by the individual user. at a cost between $3 and $4. by Color Index Number. iDye is much more expensive per use than Industrial Dyes or Diazol Direct Dyes. Each 14-gram iDye packet will dye 2 to 3 pounds of fabric. but you can ask for 100% of standard strength. Jacquard Products has introduced a line of direct dyes called iDye. to go with their line of low-energy disperse dyes called iDye Poly. ProChem was unusual among hand-dyers' suppliers in being upfront about which dyes are included. Cushing sells a line containing many different pre-mixed colors of direct dyes. PRO Chemical & Dye until recently sold an inexpensive line of nine different direct dye colors under the name "Diazol Direct Dyes". A pound of Dharma's Industrial Dye costs only $6. See their instructions for Immersion Dyeing using Diazol Direct Dyes. Dyeing one pound of fabric to a medium shade requires only 2. Although instructions are included for dyeing with iDye in the washing machine. This means that a pound of dye would be sufficient to dye more than 200 pounds of cotton fabric. They are designed to be used . as well as blended colors. which probably performs similarly to Rit Sun Guard (we have found Rit Sun Guard to be quite effective in turning clothing into a strong sunscreen). costing as little as 6 cents per pound of fabric to be dyed.very inexpensive to use. no information is available on which direct dyes are included. rather than all being set to the same price as the most expensive color. dyeing polyester or blends with iDye Poly requires boiling on the stovetop. They may supply their dyes in a different strength.

65. direct black 38. Benzidine-based direct dyes are still used industrially in some countries. they are not very fast to either light or washing. in their Cold Water and Washing Machine lines of dye). and direct black 4. enough to dye sixteen pounds of fabric. Turmeric in particular is said to require redying every year or so. it is very important not to breathe the dye powder (or indeed any powdered substance). saffron. direct brown 2. and costs $3. Half an ounce of Cushing Direct Dye is sufficient to dye two pounds of cellulose fiber. so a given weight of dye will not go nearly as far as with ProChem's Diazol Direct dyes or Dharma's Industrial dyes. such as Rit® brand dye. with no acid dye included. costs $14. The hazardous carcinogenic direct dyes that are based on benzidine are no longer allowed to be used in direct dyes or dye mixtures sold in the United States. Direct dyes are also found. however. direct red 28. sold in the US in all-purpose dyes before and throughout the 1970s. direct blue 2. thus. but apparently with a considerable amount of salt included. however. Turmeric and saffron are known for being fugitive. that is. Health Hazard Alert--Benzidine-. One pound. these dyes do not require the use of a mordant. and Tintex® Easy Fabric Dye. oTolidine-. but their use should be strictly avoided. More information on this issue is included near the bottom of my page on all-purpose dyes. not for color mixing. in all allpurpose dyes. DEKA L® Hot Water Dye. The specific dyes to avoid are direct black 1. and walnut. See the US government document. They were. direct blue 6.Based Dyes. along with leveling acid dyes. Rit brand's Proline Bulk Dye consists of only direct dye. As with all dyes. These include turmeric. and o-Dianisidine. Dylon® Multi-purpose dye (not to be confused with Dylon®'s fiber reactive dyes. See the Rit Dye website for bulk purchases. such as cotton. . Safety Issues with Direct Dye Most direct dyes are safe to use. direct green 6.directly. There are a few natural dyes which fall in the category of direct dyes. there are forty different colors available. and direct exposure of the dyebath to the skin should be avoided by the use of gloves. Unlike most other natural dyes. direct brown 95. You can order directly from the WCushing website or from some dye suppliers such as Earth Guild.

in the form of dye-impregnated tie-dye color cords. Dyes that are made from these chemicals may break down to form them again. Both benzidine and o-dianisidine are suspected cancer-causing chemicals. Be sure to request an MSDS from your dye supplier for each direct dye that you use. and avoid all dyes that are based on benzidine or o-dianisidine. . since children are less likely to follow all safety rules. They are still available for industrial use in the US and elsewhere. after they are absorbed into the body.Some o-dianisidine-based direct dyes are still being sold for household use in the US. A careful adult who understands safety precautions can probably use these dyes safely. but they should never be given to children to use. so they are not safe to be exposed to. and may be sold in other forms in other countries.