Dye Corduroy Clothes In 6 Simple Steps (For Beginners)

Corduroy is one of the most underutilized fabrics of the fall season. It looks classic, feels timeless, and keeps you warm. But perhaps one major fault of the fabric is that it is not available in a wide variety of colors.

When you go to any clothing store to buy something corduroy, you are going to see a lot of pieces in earth tones, some black and cream pieces and that’s probably it. However, there’s a solution to this problem.


Dyeing corduroy is extremely easy. It is a fun process that can be done at home without spending a ton of money or time. In this guide, I will give you a step-by-step process to dye your corduroy garments.

How to Dye Corduroy Garments?

If you want to properly dye your corduroy garments, then you need to pay close attention to all the steps mentioned below. Even missing a step or messing it up can do irreversible damage to your clothes.

Here’s the step-by-step process to dye corduroy clothes.

1. Get the right kind of dye

It is very important that you get the right dye for the job. Corduroy is usually made from cotton, and thus requires a dye that works well with plant-based fabrics.

To dye corduroy, you will require a fiber-reactive dye in the color of your choice. Companies such as Dharma Trading offer a lot of such dyes at very affordable prices, or you can simply get one from your local supermarket.

Despite what you may have heard, you should not use Rit dye. I have nothing against the company, but they manufacture all-purpose dyes while corduroy requires a fiber-reactive dye.

An all-purpose dye does not last very long, and it is going to fade after a few washes.

The dying kit that I have linked below has all the required dye colors, along with other necessary items such as soda ash and rubber gloves. That’s personally the kit I use and the kit I will recommend.

Jacquard Procion MX Bundle Fiber Reactive Dye, Jacquard Soda Ash 1-Pound,3 Pairs of Pixiss Latex Gloves, 1-Ounce Assorted Sizes Rubber Bands, 4X 8-Ounce Squeeze Bottles, 10 Craft Spoons Scoops
  • 10x Procion MX - Set of ten 2/3-oz. bottles of Jacquard Procion Dyes for clothes and...
  • Soda Ash for Dye - 1 pound Jacquard Soda Ash. Soda Ash fixer is used to activate and set...
  • Squeeze Bottles - 4x Pixiss 8oz squeeze bottles.
  • Rubber Bands - Get creative with your tie dye creations with 1oz of assorted sizes Pixiss...

2. Prepare the dyeing solution

First, get a big bucket. An old bucket from the garage will work perfectly because some inferior quality dyes can leave stains in the utensils that are being used to contain them.

Pour the dye into some water and start mixing. Stir the solution for a few minutes to ensure that the dye does not form clumps.

As to the quantities that you require, weigh your corduroy clothing and refer to the “Materials required” table in the next section. If it weighs roughly a pound, then you can simply follow the table. If it weighs half a pound, then divide the quantities of all materials by 2. Simple.

And keep in mind that these are all rough estimates. If you mix up the quantities a bit, it’s not going to be the end of the world.

3. Pour some non-iodized salt into the mix

Non-iodized salt basically refers to a salt that does not contain iodine. This means that sadly, you cannot use table salt in this step.

Non-iodized salt is available in most supermarkets and of course, Amazon sells it too. It’s very cheap and essential to the process, so do not skip out on this step.

Morton Table Salt, Iodized, 25 Pound
  • ALL PURPOSE - This all-purpose salt features uniformly shaped crystals making it the...
  • GREAT FOR EVERYDAY USE - This is an Iodized salt, perfect for everything from cooking and...
  • IODIZED - This salt supplies iodine, a necessary nutrient for proper thyroid functions
  • VERSATILE - Meets various operational needs - both front and back of house

Again, take a look at the “Materials Required” table to figure out the quantity of non-iodized salt that you are going to need. The numbers are proportional, and thus figuring out the quantity in your specific case is as simple as elementary school mathematics.

Pour the required amount of non-iodized salt in the bucket and move on to the next step.

4. Wash the corduroy thoroughly and soak it in the solution

Pre-washing is absolutely an essential part of the dyeing process. It can make all the difference when it comes to the quality of color and its longevity. Wet fabric dyes more evenly than dry fabric.

Wash your corduroy garments in hot water. Not cold. Not lukewarm. Hot water.

Don’t use any sort of fabric softener or chemical detergent. This is not the time for these products.

Once the corduroy is out of the washing machine, directly put it into the dye solution in the bucket. Do not allow your clothes to dry in the meantime.

Keep stirring for 20-30 minutes and make sure that the garment has completely soaked up the dye. Be patient and don’t rush this step.

And of course, wear gloves to avoid coming in contact with the chemicals in the dye. Use a small stick to do the stirring and the poking.

5. Add the soda ash to the mix

Soda ash is essential for fiber-reactive dyes. Therefore, once you have stirred your corduroy garments for 15-20 minutes in the dye bath, add some soda ash to the solution.

There’s a particular way to do this. First, dissolve your soda ash in a cup of warm water and let it sit for a few minutes. Then add this solution to the dye bath bit by bit. Do not add it in all at once, as that can damage the “ridges” of corduroy.

The entire mixing process should take 10-15 minutes. You want to go real slow here, as soda ash is a very reactive substance.

6. Finish things off and extract the excess dye

The dyeing process is over, and now it is time for the finishing touches. Take your garment out of the dye bucket. It should have transformed its color by now.

Rinse the garment with running water, preferably cold, until all the excess dye has been rinsed out.

Once the excess dye has been dealt with, it’s time to wash your corduroy garment. Use a washing machine to wash your clothes in hot water, and do not put any other cloth in the wash as the color may bleed.

With some deeper and darker hues such as red and black, a second wash may be necessary. Hang dry the corduroy item.

And that’s basically it.

Materials Required to Dye Corduroy

Weight of corduroy1 lb Dry Fabric
Dye 1 tbsp
Water 3 gallons
Non-iodized salt3 cups
Soda ash1/3 cup
Materials required per lbs of clothing

These ingredients are in proportion. Therefore, if you have a corduroy jacket that weighs 2 pounds when dry and you want to dye it, just double all the values in the table – This will be 2 tbsp dye, 6 cups of non-iodized salt, etc.

Can Corduroy Clothes be Dyed?

While most corduroy garments take color extremely well and can easily be dyed, there are some factors on which the dyeing process depends.

Here’s the three-step plan to check if your corduroy clothes can be dyed or not.

  1. Determine the composition of the fabric – 100% cotton is always easier to dye when compared to polycotton and synthetic blends. Polyester, especially, is a nightmare to dye. Therefore, I would only recommend you to dye your clothes if they are 100% cotton.
  2. Be aware of the challenges of dyeing a pre-dyed garment – Most corduroy garments that you buy in stores and shops have already been dyed. Thus, they are called pre-dyed garments. When dyeing such a piece, the color may not be exactly what you are looking for.
  3. Decide the new color of the garment – The closer it is to the original color, the better. For example, light green can easily be converted into dark green, but it’s much harder to make it black.

However, most corduroy garments can be dyed with the help of a fiber-reactive dye.

Can Corduroy be Bleached?

Most corduroy items can be bleached, but it really depends on the individual piece. To know if your corduroy can be bleached or not, check the care label on the inner side of the garment.

Corduroy is a fabric that is made from cotton fiber. Cotton fibers are strong enough to withstand the harsh treatment of bleach, but all cotton is not created. And thus, in turn, all corduroy is also not created equal.

Most garment manufacturers add a care label to the inner side of the piece. On jackets and shirts, this can be found on the left side near the stomach area. In corduroy pants, it is generally found at the rear of the waist.

Take a look at this label and see what it says about bleach. Care labels always have clear instructions in this regard, and all you have to do is follow those instructions.

On the flip side, you can always take your clothes to an experienced dry cleaner and have them take a look at them. They will be able to tell you what you want to know by just looking at the fabric and touching it.

Final Remarks

Dyeing corduroy does not have to be complicated. If you follow this step-by-step procedure, then dyeing your corduroy shirts, jackets, and pants is going to be a breeze:

  1. Get the right kind of dye.
  2. Prepare the dye bath.
  3. Pour some non-iodized salt into the mix.
  4. Wash the corduroy thoroughly using hot water.
  5. Add some soda ash to the mix.
  6. Wash out the excess dye afterwards.