How to Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint in 7 Easy Steps

Dyeing Acrylic yarn with Acrylic Paint is gaining popularity these days as it is a very easy and exciting procedure. Also, the unpredictability of the color variation and the final outcome makes it all the more fun. 

That’s why you should learn how to dye acrylic yarn with acrylic paint so that you can take good advantage of it. In this article I have provided simple step-by-step guide to help you out with the same.

Acrylic yarn may be colored using acrylic paint, any non-synthetic fiber dyes, fruit juice, and even black coffee. With a little time and care, you can dye your acrylic yarn at home!

Because acrylic is a man-made fiber rather than a natural fiber, it will absorb color slowly but retain it for longer than natural fibers. To prepare the acrylic yarn for dyeing, you’ll need to soften it first.

Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint
Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint

Because of the stretching during manufacture, the acrylic used for novelty yarn is generally stiff and has a hard, shiny surface. During dyeing acrylic yarn we learned different things from our mistakes.

Here in this article we cover the points that you must consider before you start dying acrylic yarn with acrylic paint.

Can you Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint? The actual answer 

You may use acrylic paint to dye the acrylic yarn. If the method is not carried out properly, the color might not last through the first rinse even. The process may take time as the color will be absorbed slowly by the yarn.

Acrylic fibers are made from petroleum compounds that have been melted and extruded into long, thin filaments. These fibers may be twisted to different degrees of tightness, combined with natural fibers while spinning, brushed, chopped, and otherwise handled to make a variety of yarns. The fibers themselves are the most significant distinction between acrylic and natural yarns. 

Acrylic yarns are similar to cotton and wool fibers in appearance. It’s made to look like natural fibers like wool or cotton, but at a lesser cost and in larger quantities. 

It is not safe to use Acrylic paint on acrylic yarn, especially if you are planning to make a garment or something fancy with the yarn. Although the name suggests acrylic paint, this particular paint and acrylic yarn don’t go well with each other. 

It is fairly difficult to dye acrylic yarn with all purpose dye or Rit Dye as acrylic yarn is a synthetic material and the color would not be easily absorbed by the yarn.

Things to consider before Dyeing Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint:

If you are determined to dye acrylic yarn with acrylic paint, here are some of the things that you must keep in mind.

Things to consider before Dyeing Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint
Things to consider before Dyeing Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint

Using Light Colored Yarn

For better effect, try to use a light colored yarn. As it is anyway difficult to make the color get absorbed in the yarn, using a dark colored yarn would make the matter worse.

Light colored yarns are anyway easier to dye, and while using acrylic paints, it is the most favorable. You could use yarns with colors like white, beige or any other neutral color.

Prewash Your Yarn Thoroughly

It is a possibility that some invisible stain might be present in the acrylic yarn. To get rid of any stain that might be present, you must prewash the yarn properly before you begin. Stains prevent the colors from being absorbed in the yarn uniformly, and we certainly don’t want that.

Mix Your Acrylic with Textile Medium

For the color to be absorbed properly and to be retained for a significant amount of time, you must mix the acrylic paint with a textile medium. Fabric Medium is a pigment-free acrylic polymer liquid mixture that you may use with acrylic paints to give your yarn a lovely soft feel.

Using Rubber or Plastic Gloves

While dealing with acrylic paints, make sure you use rubber or plastic gloves, because you might spill some colors while you work on your yarn.

Always Expect Light color shade

It is better to expect a light color shade on your dyed yarn. This is because acrylic yarn is soaked in water before dyeing. The water lightens the color a little bit and acrylic colors are not very easily absorbed in the acrylic yarns. Using light colored yarn might be helpful in bringing out a vibrant color as the outcome, but don’t expect a very rich hue Soak.

Choose a well ventilated Area

Before you begin your work choose a well ventilated area, because acrylic paints give out a pungent smell that might not be good for your health.

How to Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint (Step-by-Step Guide)

For dying the acrylic yarn and getting a good result, you must follow these steps carefully. Also keep in mind that dyeing acrylic yarn with an acrylic paint is not the most favorable option, you could use basic dyes as well which give out a better and vibrant outcome.

Step By Step Procedure to Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint
Step By Step Procedure to Dye Acrylic Yarn with Acrylic Paint

Materials required

  • 1 light colored acrylic yarn.
  • Plastic solo cups.
  • Plastic spoons.
  • Large Flat Tub.
  • Water.
  • Acrylic paint.
  • Rubber gloves.

Time required:

About an hour is required to dye the yarn and about 5-6 hours to dry the dyed yarn.

Step 1: Wrap Your Yarn and Knot

To begin, wrap your yarn skein around a 18” flat cardboard or hand. This wrapping will help to assemble the long yarn more smoothly. Enclose three or four strings around both the ends and middle portion of the cardboard wrapped yarn chain and make a loose knot with the strings when you’re finished.

This will prevent your yarn from becoming jumbled up. We all know that while working with yarns, it gets very easily tangled up, making it very difficult to work with.

Step 2: Soak in a Medium Flat tub and Squeeze

Soak your yarn in a flat tub of water. For an appropriate absorption of “dye” all the way through the yarn make sure it’s properly saturated.  Take the yarn out of the water and squeeze it in the right way to drain the excess amount of water from the yarn.

This is a very essential step in the entire process of dying the acrylic yarn, as this preparatory step makes it easier for the color to seep in properly.

Step 3: Prepare Your Acrylic Mix

I just filled a 200ml empty cup halfway with warm water before squeezing in a quantity of acrylic paint. Don’t forget that the final colors will not be as dark as the color present in your cup. The color of the dyed yarn will be much lighter.  Mix in the acrylic paint as much as you want, the more the better.

Step 4: Choose Your Desired Pattern to Dye

If you want to color the yarn with a pattern you like, you could use different colors, at different spots. This would add unique patterns to your yarn. Make it as creative as possible.

Step 5: For Solid Color Dye

First, the most important task for you would be to clean the tub properly so that there are no remnants of any other color left on the tub  that you are working with. After that you have to place the yarn in the tub and start pouring the acrylic mix on the yarn, in the manner that you prefer.

Be careful that while dealing with colors you are to wear your gloves. After adding the color in, you need to properly press in the yarn with the color so that it gets properly absorbed in.

For Dye with Different Color Mix:

If you wish to make patterns on the yarn with different colors, for which you obviously need more than one shade. You could take separate cups filled with different colors, for dying the yarn.  First place your yarn in a properly cleaned flat tub.

Next you have to gently pour your preferred acrylic color from the top at the position of yarn as per your choice. You can use a spoon or your hand for properly blending in the color as well. Alternatively, you could place your yarn part by part on several cups of different colors to add a pattern to the yarn.

Step 6: Take your Yarn out and Let It Dry

After the yarn has been properly covered with color you could hang it over a metal rack or somewhere breezy so that the wool does not stick together while drying and turn musty. Drying alone could take about 5-6 hours, so you have to be patient about this.

Also you could recycle the leftover color to paint any other fabric or if it is of no use to you, then dump it down the drain. Do not pour in on ceramic basins as it might leave stains.

Step 7: Wrap it properly For Further Use

After you are done with drying the yarn and you are satisfied with the shade, you have to wrap and tie it up properly, so that it does not get tangled up and you can weave something out of your hand dyed acrylic yarn.

Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn with Any all purpose Dye? 

Because acrylic is entirely constructed of synthetic material, natural fiber colors like all-purpose dyes or Rit Dyes aren’t going to work on acrylic yarn. Also, fiber reactive colors and acid dyes do not mix well. They’ll wash away, leaving a transient stain in their wake. 

Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn with Any all purpose Dye
Can You Dye Acrylic Yarn with Any all purpose Dye? 

Now, if you want to dye your yarn at home, I recommend using disperse dyes instead of basic dyes. Basic dyes are relatively toxic, however dispersed dyes are not.  Some common Basic Dye colors can even cause cancer. However, utilizing dispersion dyes has the drawback of being unable to generate vivid and deep hues.

What dye works on acrylic yarn? 

Basic or cationic dye is the most extensively used and acceptable type of dye for acrylic dyeing. They can create dark and deep hues with excellent color fastness. 

If you have to use basic colors, make sure you follow your dye supplier’s safety instructions. Furthermore, basic dye may stain your dye-pot and anything else they come into contact with.

Disperse dyes have a poor affinity for cotton. iDye Poly is a commercial acrylic dispersion dye that works well for pale to moderate hues. It may be readily dissolved in water by swirling it. If you’re using a different brand, make sure the dissolved colors are filtered through nylon mesh to ensure there’s no undisclosed dye left. 

Don’t get mixed up with iDye poly and ordinary iDye. Because iDye poly contains dispersion dyes, it will not work on acrylic yarn.

What dye works on acrylic yarn
What dye works on acrylic yarn? 

The acrylic dyeing technique using disperse dyes is very basic and straightforward. The steps are as follows:

  • Pre-wash the yarn to be colored to ensure that the colors absorb evenly. 
  • In the dye-pot, heat the dyes combined with water until the dispersed dyes are entirely dissolved. 
  • Toss in the acrylic yarn that will be colored. 
  • Bring the dye dye bath to a boil for around 30 minutes. 
  • Allow the dye bath to cool before stirring it occasionally. 
  • Using hot water, drain and rinse the material. To remove the access dyes from the surface, wash the material.

Also Read: Can You do Tie-Die with Acrylic Paint?


The best way to dye acrylic yarn is by using disperse dyes of various brands that are available in the market. However if you cannot find dispersion dyes and want to experiment with the acrylic colors you have, you might be slightly disappointed if you were expecting great outcomes from your DIY hand yarn dying activity.

But we have to admit that trying out something new and out of the box is always fun. So if you want to try something new and are okay with an average to basic color outcome, you may certainly learn how to dye acrylic yarn with acrylic paint. let the colors do their thing, surprising you with the finished result.

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