What is Fiber Reactive Dye?

Fiber Reactive Dye
Fiber Reactive Dye. Getty Images/Rain Blanken

Question: What is Fiber Reactive Dye?

"I heard that tie dye powder is 'fiber reactive' dye. What is this and which fabrics can I use it on?"

Answer: Fiber reactive dye is a dye that can react directly with the fabric. That means that a chemical reaction happens between the dye and the molecules of the fabric, effectively making the dye a part of the fabric. This is why fiber reactive dye is permanent; clothes dyed with fiber reactive dye can withstand many washings and still retain same vibrant color.

Fiber reactive dye works best with cellulose (plant) fibers such as cotton, linen and rayon [List of Cellulose Fibers]. It also works well on silk. Tie dye kits contain fiber reactive dye, and so does cold water dip dye available in packets at most grocers.

Since this is a cold water dye, it is some of the easiest dye to work with. This is one reason that tie dye is a great project to do with kids or a casual gathering of friends.

Step-By-Step Tie Dye Instructions

More Questions About Dyeing Clothing

  • Protein (Wool, Cashmere, Silk)
  • What are Protein Fibers?
  • How to Dye Protein Fibers
  • Learn about Acid Dyes
  • Cellulose (Cotton, Linen, Hemp)
  • What are Cellulose Fibers?
  • How to Dye Cellulose Fibers
  • Learn about Fiber Reactive Dye
  • Synthetics (Spandex, Nylon, Polyester)
  • List of Synthetic Fibers
  • How to Dye Synthetic Fibers