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Dye Safety

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All of the information on this page was assembled in collaboration with the Facebook group Dyed Baby Carriers. If you have more questions regarding dyeing your baby carrier, join their group for assistance!

Acceptable Dyes for Babywearing

For something to be baby-safe, you want a dye that bonds permanently with the fibers of the fabric. These are called "fiber reactive" dyes. The following are examples of safe dyes.

  • Dylon Permanent
  • Dylon Hand
  • Dylon Cold
  • Dylon Machine Dye
  • Tulip powdered dye
  • Lumi Inkodyes
  • Dharma Trading Co Procion MX Dye

Unacceptable Dyes

Many dyes on the market are not fiber reactive and simply sit on top of the fibers. Not only does this mean that the dye can bleed and fade, but it also means that it can be transfered onto baby's skin or mouth by contact. While many of these dyes claim to be "non-toxic," it is still considered best practice not to use a dye that could be ingested later.

The following dyes should never be used on a baby carrier.

  • RIT dyes
  • iDye
  • Pre-mixed liquid dye
  • Dylon Multi Purpose
  • Tintex
There is currently no recommended method for dyeing polyester. This is because polyester dyes require boiling over heat, which can damage certain types of fabric and carriers, and because polyester dyes are not fiber reactive and do not permantently bond to the fabric in the same manner that cellulose fabrics and dyes do. Therefore, the dyes are never "fixed" and are unsafe for small humans that like to put things in their mouths.

Safety Equipment

The safety of dye on skin has not been thoroughly investigated, and powdered dyes can irritate the respiratory system if breathed in. Whenever you are dyeing, please use proper protection.

  • Gloves (non-optional)
  • N95 mask (non-optional)
  • Long sleeves (optional, but recommended)
  • Eye protection (optional, but recommended)
In addition, the use of bleach, rubbing alcohol or magic eraser on dyed skin is not recommended.

Color Remover

Bleach is never safe to use on any type of carrier, sling or wrap. Bleach weakens fibers over time when not properly neutralized. Even when bleach is neutralized, however, there is no way to measure the amount of damage done to the fibers by the bleaching process. Sudden, catastrophic failure can result.

Color remover or color stripper is safe to use for cotton and linen woven wraps, but should never be done to a structured carrier. Keep in mind that color strippers do not always bring a wrap back to white or natural colored. Some colors may be completely removed, some muted, some randomly changed, and some untouched. Color stripping is a highly unpredictable process. For more on color stripping, click here.

Natural Dyes

While it is tempting to go as natural as possible when making something for your baby, dyeing a baby carrier is one instance in which it is not recommended. There are several reasons for this:

  • Highly concentrated amounts are needed to achieve desired color, which can lead to toxic levels of ingestion
  • Many natural "dyes" are merely stains sitting on the fabric. These are not colorfast, can be absorbed through the skin or into their mouths.
  • To make natural dyes colorfast, you often need to use a highly-toxic mordant.
Related articles:

-- Alyssa Leonard - 2016-07-16

Return to Main - TICKS Rules for Safe Babywearing

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