Dyeing with Procion Dyes and a Microwave Oven


How to dye with Procion Dyes and a (dedicated) microwave oven

These instructions pertain only to the actual use of a micro wave oven while dyeing. You must have knowledge of how to mix dyes and prepare fabrics for dyeing.

A very talented textile artist Larkin Van Horn gave me the directions for this dyeing method.

The only difference is she uses glass pie plates and large zip lock bags and I use glass bowls  covered with plastic wrap. She places the fabric in the dish and slips it into the bag, then in the oven.

The best part about this method is that it gives fast results with relatively simple steps.  I have had success with it and I prefer it over zip lock bags.

It is vitally important to use a dedicated microwave oven. All items should ONLY be used for dyeing and not food preparation. You can often find them cheap at garage sales and thrift stores.

I set mine up in my laundry room next to the sink.


Premixed dyes

Large glass bowls that will fit in the oven; I use 3.

Plastic wrap

An old towel

Pot Holder

Washing machine, dryer

Best to work near a sink

plastic bin(s) or bucket (s) to hold wet fabrics

plastic bin or bucket to soak fabric in soda ash

Fabrics PFD (prepared for dyeing) You can dye up to a yard at a time in a large bowl or two half yard pieces or smaller as long as the maximum amount equals less than one yard.

Senthrapol-A washing liquid that is very concentrated. Use this to scour the fabric prior to soaking in soda ash and to wash after dyeing to remove excess dye. Read the instructions on the product page. See this product here: Dharma Trading Company

I buy the quart size, it is highly concentrated and goes a long way.

Soda Ash-Also available at here: Dharma Trading Company


Step 1

Soak the fabric in soda ash for at least 30 minutes. Wring it out and place in a bowl. Scrunch it up like you want it. The more scrunched, the more variations.

Step 2

Pour the dye over the fabric in the bowl.


A. If you want varied, uneven color, of one color, pour the dye concentrate on and don’t touch it, or barely squish it to distribute.

B. If you want multiple colors for a varied mix, pour a bit of each color of dye concentrate over the fabric in the bowl. I do not recommend combining more than 3 colors. And, certain colors work better together than others. You have to experiment. Generally speaking, opposites on the color wheel produce neutral tones, or mud. Do not touch the fabric at all.

C. If you want a more solid look, massage the fabric very carefully. Try to not splash the dye out of the bowl. I put an old towel under the oven and the work area.

Step 3

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, wrap loosely, cover and smooth all the edges with about 1-2 inches extra.

Step 4

Place the bowl in the microwave oven.

Step 5

Heat on high for 2 minutes

Wait 2 minutes

Heat on high for 2 more minutes

Remove the bowl from the oven with a pot holder.

*Usually I get an assembly line going and while one bowl is resting, I will either heat a second bowl of fabric or wring out from soda ash bin and prepare a second bowl.

Step 6

Put the bowl aside to cool. Don’t lift the plastic wrap off until room temperature. The fumes from the dye is not good to breath. If you take the wrap off to soon, the vapors will flow out. A mask will insure you do not breath noxious air.

Step 7

Remove the plastic over the sink and pour out the excess dye. Put the fabric in the sink and rinse. Rinse and squeeze to get the excess dye out. The water does not have to run clear, just pale. Place in the bin or bucket.

Options: You can put several pieces of fabric in the bin/bucket together as long as they are in the same color family. You can wash them all together as well.

Step 8

Wash the fabric(s) in hot water and 1 t. of Synthrapol.

If you have a top loading machine, fill the machine to cover the fabrics. If you have a front loader (which I have) this is automatic.

When the washing cycle ends, you will find a lot of loose threads. Untangle the fabrics before putting in the dryer. Cut long any long threads. If the fabric is one that wrinkles, only dry till damp and then iron while damp.

Note: I have some PDF muslin that takes dye differently. The off white color effects the results making the colors muted and earthy. You may like this effect. But if you want bright clear colors use white fabric.