Instructions & Safety Tips

By Joan Ruane, Southwest Corner

Cushing Dyed Cotton Lint

After using Procion dyes for many years I have turned to using W. Cushing’s Perfection Direct Dyes because of the ease and quick application. The following directions apply to the Cushing dyes.

When doing any dyeing, it is best if you have an area that is set aside for your dyeing. If this is not possible and you have to use your kitchen, then be sure to clear away any food or dishes that are not designated for dye. Use enamel or stainless steel pots for your dyeing and NEVER use them again for food preparation! If you can, mark them permanently so they will never accidentally be used by anyone else for food preparation.

Purchase a good pair of rubber gloves that fit you comfortably and have long cuffs. If you can find the plastic spoons (like your old wooden spoon) then they will not absorb the dye and are easy to rinse off. A large spaghetti strainer is very useful and will save time.

  1. Lint Simmering to Remove Oils Measure out ½ lb of clean cotton lint. Fill an enamel or stainless steel pot with approximately 8 quarts of hot tap water and add a “shot” of Dawn soap or similar detergent.

    If you do not have hot tap water, then bring the temperature of the water up so it is very warm. Turn off the burner and tear the cotton lint in small handfuls with both your gloves and mask on if you are sensitive to the lint that will be airborne.

    Loose cotton lint will actually explode if it comes into contact with a flame, thus do not tear the cotton while close to a flame, like a gas stove.

    Put the lint into the warm water, pushing it down under the water. After the lint is in the pot, simmer the lint for about 20 minutes to get the oils and waxes out of the cotton so it will dye evenly.

  2. Boiled Lint Draining in Bucket Dump the scoured lint into a strainer and let clean warm water run over it for 15 seconds to remove some of the detergent.

    With your spoon or gloved hand, press out excess water.

  3. Salt & Dye used to dye cotton lint Fill the pot again with approximately 8 quarts of clean water and bring the water to a simmer. While it is coming to a simmer, mix 2.5 gram or ½ teaspoon of Cushing dye into ½ cup of boiling water.

    Measure out ¼ cup of salt. When the water is ready to simmer add the salt and then the dissolved dye, stirring it in the pot.

    Dyed Lint Cooking in Pot
  4. Add the scoured lint, wearing the gloves to keep from getting the dye on your hands. Stir the cotton as you are immersing it into the dye water to dye the lint evenly.

    Simmer and stir often for 20 minutes. After turning off the burner you can let it cool down a little before beginning the rinse process.

  5. Drain off the water and rinse the dyed lint in clean water with ¼ cup of salt dissolved in the rinse water. A second rinse with just clean water will remove the salt from the fiber. DO NOT USE VINEGAR in the rinse water as cotton does not like acid and it can damage the fiber.

    Cotton Dyed with Cushing Dye
  6. Squeeze out excess water, using the spin cycle of a washing machine if available, or by squeezing small clumps of the dyed lint with gloved hands. Tease the cotton lint into small sections and spread it out to dry.

    When the lint is almost dry, place it in the dryer on warm temperature and tumble dry. This will fluff up the cotton and make it easier to card.

    Equipment needed: Good quality rubber gloves, mask, gram scale or measuring spoons, enamel or stainless steel pot, strainer, large wooden or plastic spoon, jar for mixing the dye, measuring cup and stove for heating.

    Safety measures: Use an area designated for dyeing; away from food and utensils that are used for daily cooking. Good quality rubber gloves, pot holders, mask and sturdy stirring spoons. Remember to be careful that dry cotton lint does not get near an open flame.

Finished Hand-Dyed Cotton Lint

Dried Hand-Dyed Cotton Lint


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