How to Dye Pipe Cleaners for Crafts - DIY Tutorial
Extreme crafters rejoice: you can dye your own pipe cleaners! I was wanting some pipe cleaners in various pastel shades for my spring craft projects, but I was disappointed by the limited selection at the craft store. I felt like their pastels were just not pastel enough. I carry these old fashioned pipe cleaners in the shop, so I thought I'd try dyeing them to get the colors I wanted. I used RIT fabric dye in petal pink, sunshine orange, golden yellow, kelly green, teal, and purple, and then mixing some of those colors together to make fun extra shades. I started with a 1/4 tsp. of dye per cup of water, and then made small adjustments to get paler or more saturated colors.
I would note that I have not tried this with regular synthetic fiber pipe cleaners. The pipe cleaners that I used are natural cotton fiber, and they seemed to take the dye quite well. The pipe cleaners are available here.
Rather than just putting the pipe cleaners in the dye and just letting them sit, I pressed the fibers while in the dye to make sure it was soaking up the dye through and through. Without massaging it into the fibers, I found the coloration to end up a bit splotchy because it was not absorbing the dye to the centers of the pipe cleaners.
- Old Fashioned Cotton Pipe Cleaners
- RIT Dye in several colors
- Two disposable plastic containers
- 1/4 tsp measuring spoon, thermometer
- Paper towels for cleanup
- Foil lined cookie sheet, ( and oven preheated to 350°)
Prepare your work area to protect any surfaces you'd like to avoid dyeing. This is a great project to do outside on a nice day. Wear gloves! You'll be putting your fingers in the dye.
Fill one container with water, and set aside. In the other container, spoon out 1/4 tsp. of dye, and add 1 cup of water heated to 140°. Mix well to dissolve all of the dye powder, and then let cool to under 110° (or to a point where you can put your fingers in the dye mix without it being too hot.)
1/4 teaspoon to 1 cup of water is a good starting place. You can cut up a pipe cleaner to test the dye and see how you like it, and then you can make adjustments to get the right depth of color. I found colors like yellow and orange to take right away at this dilution, but the blues and purples either needed to be left in the dye a little longer, or have more dye powder put in.
After testing the dye with a piece of a pipe cleaner, add a few to the dye bath. Use your gloved fingers to press and squeeze the pipe cleaners, agitating and dipping them to get a full saturation. I found that the more I pressed and re-dipped the fibers, the more evenly they would soak up the oclor. Don't worry about squishing the fibers because they will poof right back up after being dried.
Leave in the dye for about a minute for pastels, or 2-3 minutes for brighter colors. I let mine go to a slightly darker shade than what I was shooting for because some of the dye will wash out during the final rinse.
Squeeze out as much dye as you can, then move them to the tray of plain water.
Place under running water for 2-3 minutes, and squeeze them out a few times during the rinse to be sure all excess dye is removed. Press out the water, then transfer them to a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes at 350°, or until dry.
Products featured in this tutorial: