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Thread: Washing fabric with vinegar?

  1. #1
    Senior Member LovinMySoldier's Avatar
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    I have always heard that washing fabric with vinegar will help set the color and prevent bleeding. My question is do I wash with just vinegar and then dry or wash with vinegar, then wash with soap then dry? Or do I wash with vinegar and soap together then dry? Does anyone know the best course of action? Thanks :D

  2. #2
    pookie ookie's Avatar
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    I used to do a repeated vinegar soak and hand wash. Never worked completely the first go around. I don't have a dryer. Don't know if that makes a difference.

    Now, I use a ready made product from the grocery store. Works better but I kind of miss the vinegar. I still use it for housecleaning.

  3. #3
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Its mostly an old wives tale that vinegar will set the fabric colors.In fact, vinegar can do nothing useful for cotton dyes. Vinegar will help set some acid dyes, but only if applied while it is gradually heated to a simmer (generally in the presence of salt), solely in cases in which this necessary part of acid dyeing was omitted; acid dyes are used on silk, wool, or nylon, but never cotton.
    If you want results use Retayne prior to construction on fabrics, and use Synthropol in the wash of finished quilts. Color catchers work well with finshed quilts as well.

    True Dye Fixatives, an all-purpose solution
    There is only one type of product that you can buy that will actually set dye regardless of its type. A product called Retayne, sold by local quilter's supply shops as well as by most mail-order dye supply houses
    Retayne and other commercial dye fixatives are the only real solution to cloth that bleeds.
    is recommended for fixing dyes in commercially purchased cotton fabrics or clothing to prevent color bleeding during washing. This product is a cationic bulking agent, which acts to seal in the dye by physical means, rather than the chemical bonds which are so dependant on the type of dye. It seems that the particles of Retayne adhere to the dye molecules, effectively making them larger, so they do not come out of the fabric as easily. Note that Retayne is washed in as a laundry additive, and thus can be used only on things that can be immersed at least once without the dye immediately floating off and ruining other parts of the same item. Retayne may be removed by washing with overly hot water, and thus treated items must be washed in cool water. (Unfortunately, the one situation Retayne cannot help with is the dry crocking of indigo, in which improperly applied dye rubs off of the fabric even when dry.)
    Instead of Retayne, G&S Dye sells a similar product called Raycafix, which they say is stronger; another advantage of Raycafix is that it can be laundered in warm water without losing strength. Dharma Trading Company sells Retayne and also a product called "Dharma Dye Fixative", which they claim increases the washfastness, wetfastness, resistance to perspiration staining, and resistance to seawater fading of several different kinds of dye. I don't know how it compares to Retayne; it may be a generic version of the same product, or a related product, instead. Aljo Dyes strongly suggests the use of their equivalent product, Aljo Pro-fix PCD after-treatment, after using direct dyes, which would otherwise run too much to be at all desirable. Note that the use of any such aftertreatment, while improving washfastness, may adversely affect lightfastness.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rachel's Avatar
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    I've never had this work for me before. I washed a purple fabric half a dozen times with vinegar and it still bled, so I now use a product called Retayne that you can buy at the quilt store (it worked on the purple fabric the first time). The vinegar does work as a natural fabric softner though.

  5. #5
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    I didn't know vinegar might stop a bleed but I always use vinegar to set the colors. I was taught the color would stay new looking longer. I have been very pleased with my results and have washed hundreds of yards in it. I just fill the washer, add a 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar and let it set 30 minutes to an hour. Then I add my laundry detergent and run the washer through it's cycle. May not work but I have quilts I am still proud of 20 years later and curtains that have been washed many times and the fabric still looks like new.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsb38327
    I didn't know vinegar might stop a bleed but I always use vinegar to set the colors. I was taught the color would stay new looking longer. I have been very pleased with my results and have washed hundreds of yards in it. I just fill the washer, add a 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar and let it set 30 minutes to an hour. Then I add my laundry detergent and run the washer through it's cycle. May not work but I have quilts I am still proud of 20 years later and curtains that have been washed many times and the fabric still looks like new.
    I was taught the same thing. It will also help with odd odors.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Elizabeth-Liz's Avatar
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    I use Bounce Color Catchers and I wash my fabric in a hot/cold cycle. I wash all the colors together with the color catchers. I have not had any of my fabric bleed onto each other using the color catchers or washing after I have completed the quilt without using the color catcher and you can find it in your local grocery store.

  8. #8
    Senior Member LovinMySoldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsb38327
    I didn't know vinegar might stop a bleed but I always use vinegar to set the colors. I was taught the color would stay new looking longer. I have been very pleased with my results and have washed hundreds of yards in it. I just fill the washer, add a 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar and let it set 30 minutes to an hour. Then I add my laundry detergent and run the washer through it's cycle. May not work but I have quilts I am still proud of 20 years later and curtains that have been washed many times and the fabric still looks like new.
    Thanks for the answer that I was looking for! It may be an old wives tale but I believe it works lol. My aunt washes all of her clothes and everything she buys in vinegar the very first wash. Then she just washes everything together. Reds with whites and so on. It all goes in. She never has an issue with anything. I couldn't call her today since she is on vacay but I wanted to at least set the color for my quilt. LOL just pastel colors. So nothing to important but I wanted to see if it would really work and keep the colors looking fresh!

  9. #9
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    I don't wash in hot water because I can't afford the electric bill.

  10. #10
    Senior Member LovinMySoldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth "Liz"
    I use Bounce Color Catchers and I wash my fabric in a hot/cold cycle. I wash all the colors together with the color catchers. I have not had any of my fabric bleed onto each other using the color catchers or washing after I have completed the quilt without using the color catcher and you can find it in your local grocery store.
    Do you have an issue with shrinking with a hot/cold wash? I usually just wash in cold and I have my dry on a cooler setting too. I hate shrinking. But I am also too impatient to prewash my fabric.

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