A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rinsing, Neutralizing and Washing

Now that your fabrics are perfectly rusted, you need to remove the excess iron oxide and neutralize the rusting action. But just a word, the rusting action never completely stops, but it can be slowed down with neutralizing.


  • Fill several buckets with fresh water
  • Dunk and swish around several times, removing as much of the rusty particles as possible (save this water for your rusty water solution)
  • Move fabric to another bucket of clean water, dunk and swish some more
  • Do this several times until the water isn't so brown



  • Move to another bucket and add Dawn dish detergent and approximately 1/2C baking soda to 1 gallon water
  • Let sit several hours, occasionally dunking and swishing


  • Wash on a normal cycle using hot water.
  • If the fabric is heavily rusted, do a second rinse, adding a little more baking soda
  • Dry in dryer or hang outside to dry

I do a lot of natural rust dyeing and was concerned about damaging my washer or transferring rust to other laundry. So I purchased a second hand washer specifically for washing my dyed and rusted fabrics. Since I do so much, I could easily justify this expense.

If you have a HE washers, so I can't speak to how washing rusted fabrics might affect them.

If you are concerned about washing these fabrics in your washer, you may want purchase a used washer or take the fabrics to a laundry mat.


After washing and drying, I like to give everything a good pressing. This is when I evaluate each piece and ask

  • Am I happy with it

  • Could it use another go round of rusting

    • If I wrapped it the first time, but there isn't much texture, would wrapping it again improve it

    • If I wrapped it the first time, would a layer rusting improve it

    • If I layered it the first time, would a second round of wrapping improve it


  1. I've seen a variety of references that many use salt to stop the rusting process. Is baking soda more effective, or is it simply a matter of preference?

    Also, after fabric is used, is there chances of rust bleed should it get wet down the road .... i.e., if used in bags or clothing?

  2. Yes, I've seen those references also. But considering rust happens faster in salt water, it would seem to me that using salt to neutralizing the rust is counter productive.

    I,be never had rust bleed on anything when wet. I have a rust outfit I dye in, and so far no rust transfer. And I'm not to careful about where I sit.


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