Introduction: Easy Koolaid Microwave Wool Dye Technique

Picture of Easy Koolaid Microwave Wool Dye Technique

Easy dye project to use on protein fiber including wool and silk. Use your microwave and in a matter of minutes have art ready fiber for felting, weaving, spinning-project ready!
This is so easy! It just couldn't be any easier! If you have some wool or silk fiber you want to color-this is the way to go! All you need is simple equipment you probably already have in your kitchen and some protein fiber. I like using the powdered drink mix as dyes. They work well, have strong, vibrant colors. Inexpensive to use and are readily available. Safe to use in your own kitchen cookware. Requires no special additions or equipment. Easter egg dyes can also be used.

Step 1: Easier Than Pie!

Picture of Easier Than Pie!

Supplies you need-Microwave safe bowl(s), Colander, strainer or salad spinner, Wooden skewer, Rubber gloves (optional), Mesh laundry bag, Unsweetened powdered drink mix in desired color(s), or Easter egg dye, Microwave, Drying rack, Protein fiber- wool or silk fiber
Gather your supplies. Add powdered drink mix to hot water in microwave safe bowl I use Pyrex. Stir to dissolve with skewer. Use 1-2 packets of powered drink mix in desired color, depending on amount of wool used and desired color saturation. Moisten wool with hot water under faucet before adding to dye bath. Squeeze out excess water and push down into dye bath with skewer or hand protected with rubber glove. Or dye your fingertips like I have done!

Step 2: Zap on High!

Picture of Zap on High!

Microwave on high. Cook at 2 minute intervals for 6-8 minutes for 2 quart bowl or until all the color is absorbed into the fiber. Here I've moved the wool aside in the bowl so you can see that the water is clear as the wool has taken up all the color. This is exactly what I want to happen! The heat of the water bonds the color to the fiber making it colorfast. It won't fade with washings. This is a permanent dye. Use hot pads to remove from microwave. Be careful! It gets really hot! Use the skewer to push the wool back into the water as it cooks, if needed, stirring minimally. Agitation of the fiber will cause felting at this stage. You can also place a microwave safe saucer on top of the fiber to submerge fiber, if needed.

Step 3: Cool, Rinse, Spin Dry

Picture of Cool, Rinse, Spin Dry

Let cool to room temperature or strain immediately in a colander over the sink. I have done it both ways, each work. Rinse with warm water.
Put the strained, wet wool in a mesh drawstring laundry sack or pillow case securely closed and spin dry further in the washing machine before laying out to dry completely on a rack. I use an old baby gate for a rack over the bathtub. It works like a charm! The wool dries a lot faster if you spin out the excess water in the washing machine before laying out to dry. Remember to use the end spin cycle only. If you are dyeing small batches, you can use a salad spinner to get more moisture out too.

Step 4: Don't Blink, You'll Miss It!

Picture of Don't Blink, You'll Miss It!

Now see? I was right! That couldn't be any easier! You will be so pleased with the results. I use small batches to dye individual pieces I have cut out of felted sweaters with great results. You can use this method to dye silk, skein wool, socks, sweaters or any protein fiber that can fit in the microwave. When I cut out pieces to dye in the microwave from recycled wool felted sweaters, the process gives the wool a more compact & fuzzy texture. It's very lovely. The idea is to experiment and have fun!

Step 5: Project Complete

Picture of Project Complete

Great for wet or dry felting, spinning, weaving making stuff for babies, kids, moms, dads, dogs, cats-anyone that likes this kind of thing! They juggle great & are easy enough on lamps & furniture to play with indoors. Wool's wonderful properties make it a very safe material especially for asthmatic or allergic children. Wool doesn't harbor mites like other stuffed toys/animals can. Also wool absorbs heat as it is held, which is a comfort & welcoming-especially in a treasured doll or stuffed animal. Shown here are needle felted wool beads. Delicious! (Not for human consumption).


BLASTFEMI (author)2008-04-17

The dye is colorfast and permanent. It doesn't bleed or fade as it ages. You can also use the technique for skein wool, wool socks, knit or crocheted wool items-or silk.

bhanon815 (author)2015-04-15

so freaked cool i love it.

anarchy burger (author)2012-09-27

Aaaahh Holy Shark this is cool! Just tried it with a few white tank tops which are a 92% nylon and 8% spandex blend.... not a bit of color has come out after machine washing and drying! The only thing is that the color did not absorb entirely consistently throughout the fabric...... I tried purple off brand kool aid, most of the tank top is a burgundy color with red lace and a few cool tie-dye blue spots.

paqrat (author)2012-05-21

Very cool idea. I wish it worked with cotton.

incorrigible packrat (author)2008-04-18

Colourfast and everything? Kool! My brother just bought 54 sheep (I'm not joking here), so I might have some raw material... Now I just need 10000 Kool-aid.

54 sheep!? WOW! Do you know what breed? There are meat lambs and wool lambs. That is awesome!

bouder (author)BLASTFEMI2012-04-18

.... and there are Polypay sheep, that provide both wool and meat! LOL! Sorry, couldn't resist. ;-)

They're meaty sheep, I'm not sure what breed. I think meat sheep still require shearing (except for hair sheep). The wool probably wouldn't be so nice for spinning, but should make decent felt. I'd probably want to wash the poo from the wool beforehand, as the sheep appear none too clene (I elect not to comment on whether, or not, the shepherd is shitten). Washing might also be helpful in removing some of the lanolin, which I imagine would interfere with uptake of the waterborne Kool-aid dye.

sophianw (author)2012-01-31

hi! thank you soooooooo much for sharing this, but i do not have sheep or a llama, that i could shear but could i do this with white yarn

BLASTFEMI (author)sophianw2012-01-31

Hi Sophia, Yes, as long as it's protein fiber-wool, rayon or silk, it will dye using this technique. Polyester or acrylic yarns will not work! Good luck & show me your results if you end up doing it!

OrIsIt (author)2011-06-17

Minecraft anyone?This just reminded me of minecraft

NaturalCrafter (author)2011-05-04

The frog made from a wool sweater is great. You should do an instruction just on making him. Wonderful.

BLASTFEMI (author)NaturalCrafter2011-05-12

I didn't get pics of making the frog but I do have some pics of a cat one I made. I'll have to scrounge them up. Super fun & easy!

NaturalCrafter (author)BLASTFEMI2011-05-12

Great...I am looking forward to seeing them.

NaturalCrafter (author)2011-05-04

I have a bunch of white wool fiber that I am just loving to try this! Thanks much. Infact I have some blue koolaide that would be neat! Thank you Thank you!

BLASTFEMI (author)NaturalCrafter2011-05-04

Have fun! I hope to see what you make when you are done. It's so easy, it's ridiculous!

NaturalCrafter (author)BLASTFEMI2011-05-04

I have been wanting to try something like this for awhile. Though I now have a list of projects. I just finished tatting a cross that off, and I also working on the second sock to go with the one in my photo to have a matched set. Should I try to spin the fiber first and then dye it or dye it and then spin it? I could try it both ways and see what happens.

BLASTFEMI (author)NaturalCrafter2011-05-04

Dyeing the fiber first is called 'dyed in the wool'. You can totally dye the wool after it's been spun though too. You can even dye a finished project this way. I dyed a wool sweater that was first fulled/felted in the washing machine using this technique and it came out great. I cut it up to use in my projects. Doilies are underestimated! The tatting would make me go blind! Good job!

JohnMichael (author)2009-04-20

How is vinegar (acetic acidic) going to neutralize citric acid? Did I miss something?

BLASTFEMI (author)JohnMichael2009-04-20

Hi JM, No, you didn't miss anything! I have since learned it isn't necessary to use the vinegar too. I need to modify my instructions.. Thanks for the reminder!

SallyOH (author)BLASTFEMI2010-01-27

If this is an acid dye technique, you need a mordant to help the fibers fully absorb the dye, and to set the dye into the fibers so that the dye is colorfast and will not run should the work ever get wet again. Citric acid OR white vinegar does that. I would advise anyone to use one or the other. It should be added after the dye begins to absorb (although I have not done the overdyeing in a microwave.) When overdyeing on the stove top, the wool and dye are combined in the dye pot for about 30 minutes, then the vinegar is added and all the color gets absorbed into the wool during the next 30 minutes in the dye pot. The heat distribution/temp in a microwave is different, so I am unsure as to the timing of adding the mordant agent. But I would definitely use one.

kckthx (author)2009-10-08

 Awesome!  I've always wanted to try dying with koolaid.  Do you know if you'd need to re-card the wool before spinning it?  I'd be afraid putting it in the drying would agitate it a good bit.  

justkim (author)2009-07-11

Love the idea of the Koolaid method. Will it work on synthetics, i.e. nylon or poly?

BLASTFEMI (author)justkim2009-09-05

No. This is considered an acid dye and works only on protein fibers. It will stain cotton, but not make it colorfast and bright like the wool & silk will. Synthetics can't handle the heat needed to permanently bond the color.

ki10 (author)justkim2009-08-04

Nothing really does well, and I'd avoid a method with this much heat on synthetics.

natamon (author)2009-05-13

I am so excited about this knowledge! Just sent you a private message asking for a little more info-thanks in advance!! :D

JohnMichael (author)2009-04-20

That is interesting. Thank you for sharing.

BeautifulStranger (author)2008-04-23

Does the wool shrink or felt in the hot water?

If wool is agitated while it is hot-the chances of it felting are greater. Just keep the batch nice and calm, no stirring or working too vigorously while it is super heated. I'm not sure about shrinkage!

Thank You. I never expected an answer:>)

Yerboogieman (author)2008-04-23

lol, kool.

BLASTFEMI (author)Yerboogieman2008-04-23

I was wondering if you were going to see this or not! Thank you for taking a peek and having a giggle! :P

Noadi (author)2008-04-22

Hmmm... Now I know an easy way to dye all the llama fiber I'll have as soon as mine is sheared in a couple weeks.

BLASTFEMI (author)Noadi2008-04-22

Llama is even easier because you don't have to degrease it first! Have fun! I want to get my hands on some llama too!

Browncoat (author)2008-04-18

Could you use this concept on cotton?

BLASTFEMI (author)Browncoat2008-04-18

Cotton is a vegetable fiber. The dye will 'stain' the cotton, but not retain the beautiful luster of the color like the wool or silk will. Procion dyes are best for veg. fiber. I'm not sure about rayon though. I'll have to try that (Thought to self-remember to dye some rayon). Thanks for your comments and interest everybody!

reedz (author)2008-04-17

Great Instructable, does the dye wash out after a while?

GorillazMiko (author)2008-04-16

Nice method! I like the last picture, that ball that is red blue and green looks cool. :-)

BLASTFEMI (author)GorillazMiko2008-04-16

Thanks Mike!

MatthewMetcalf (author)2008-04-16

Does the flavoring absorb into the wool too? That would make for a great hiking sweater...just wring out the sweat, add sugar and voila....clear koolaid.

BLASTFEMI (author)MatthewMetcalf2008-04-16

No, no flavoring. But there is a faint scent left sometimes.

About This Instructable



Bio: Fiber mad woman living in the mountains. Creativity is the ultimate rebellion.Trying to Roller Derby for my life. I'm into sericulture and hypertufa ... More »
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