Introduction: Dyeing Bamboo Fiber

This Instructable is for dyeing small amounts of bamboo/plant fibers. Dyeing plant fibers is a very different process from dyeing protein (animal) fibers. Silk, can be dyed using either Fiber Reactive Dyes (for dyeing plants) or Acid Dyes (protein).


Bamboo fiber

Fiber Reactive Dyes (I use dyes from Dharma Trading Co.)

Mixing containers, sticks

Jewelers scale

Plastic bags


Laundry detergent, Synthrapol

Plastic baggies


Soda Ash

Oral syringes

Step 1: Prep

Measure out your fiber and put it into closable baggies.

Mix 1 cup of soda ash with 1 gallon of hot water and stir well OR mix 1 tbs soda ash with hot water (for individual baggies).

When soda ash is dissolved, distribute the mixture among your baggies. Make sure the fiber is completely covered. Close the bags and let sit for 10-12 hours.

Step 2: Dyes!

After the baggies have been sitting for 12 hours, you can now mix and add your dyes. The amount of dye you'll use will depend on the depth of color you want and the amount of fiber in your baggie.

Say you're doing 28g of fiber and you want a 50% depth of shade. You'd use 14.1ml of dye (assuming you've made a 1% dye stock). To figure out the amount of dye you'd need for certain depths of shade (DoS), the formula is: DoS x fiber weight / stock solution % = dye ml

So dyeing 28g of fiber a .5% DOS using a 1% stock solution = 14.1ml.

To make a 1% dye stock, you mix 1g of dye with 100ml of water. This is the most straight forward way to go.

Add the dye to your baggies and close. Let sit for 12-24 hours. Definitely move the baggies around a bit to make sure the dye evenly distributes. I always forget to do this and my bamboo is often not as evenly colored as I would like.

*Note about dyeing plant fibers: plant fiber needs more dye, so putting in a few extra grams or ml won't hurt. You may need to do some trial and error to get the shades you want.

Step 3: Rinse 1, Soak 1

Rinse the bamboo one by one in cool water, keep running it under the water until the dye stops appearing in the water.

Next, put into a Synthrapol/textile detergent bath for 1-2 hours. Synthrapol is a fixer solution and helps keep the color on the fiber.

Step 4: Rinse 2, Soak 2

Thoroughly rinse the bamboo again and then transfer to a container filled with cool water and fabric softener for 20-30 minutes. Rinse again. The purpose of the fabric softener is to make the bamboo fiber feel softer and not stiff.

Step 5: Dry

Remove the bamboo from the fabric softener soak and allow to dry.

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