How To Set Dye In Fabric & Wigs

Although I love darker wigs and clothing for my dolls, I hate the stains that most of them leave behind. Wig stains are especially annoying, as they cannot easily be removed without damaging the face-up. Thankfully, there is a simple and time tested method of setting color with vinegar. It is safe to use on many fibers and is very effective when done properly.

Please note that the vinegar soak should not be used on natural fiber wigs, such as mohair and alpaca. Although vinegar will not hurt mohair or alpaca fibers (in fact, vinegar is often used during various steps of the dying process), these wigs are quite delicate in their construction and should be handled with care.

Additionally, proceed with caution when using on rayon, cotton, silk, acetate and triacetate, as vinegar may weaken these fabrics and cause undesired color change. Test in an inconspicuous area before proceeding, and always start with the weakest vinegar concentration.

  1. Step 1

    Pour distilled (white) vinegar and lukewarm water into a bowl. See below for proportions.

  2. Step 2

    Immerse wig or clothing in the water-vinegar solution and let soak for about an hour.

  3. Step 3

    Rinse the items thoroughly in cool water, until you can no longer detect vinegar smell.

  4. Step 4

    Place items on paper towels to dry. If you see any dye stains on the paper towels, repeat these steps using a more concentrated solution.

The exact proportions of water to vinegar will vary depending on the type of fiber being set. I always start out with a relatively dilute solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and increase it incrementally as needed. For some wigs (usually the ones with stiff fibers) I had to use straight vinegar.

I’m happy to report that my dolls have not experienced any unsightly stains ever since I started setting color with vinegar on all incoming dark wigs and clothing!

  1. Really nice tip. Thank you so much Anna. I always worry about stains that caused by dark colour wigs. Now I have confident to change my dolls’ style into darker theme.

    1. I felt the same way and use to avoid darker wigs. It’s really nice to be able to use them without worry! Most wigs don’t need the full vinegar concentration, but for a dark brown Licht wig I had to use straight vinegar to make sure the color sets!

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