The following steps explain what you need to do after you have dyed your fibre with indigo.
Rinse your textiles after they have oxidised for at least 10 minutes but before they are dry otherwise the unattached indigo hardens and is more difficult to rinse. If you are doing multiple dips into the indigo vat, rinse briefly between dips, otherwise the indigo from the vat will attach itself to some of the loose indigo in the fibres and rub off.
After rinsing you need to soak the indigo dyed fibre in a weak acidic bath. This step removes any remaining reducing agent which may cause the fibre to fade or yellow as well as neutralising the alkalinity, which can damage the fibres. It also improves the colours of the indigo and restores the sheen on the silk.
1. When your fibres are as dark as you want them (they will look much lighter when dry), rinse them well a couple of times with detergent. Washing up liquid is a good choice; avoid detergents that contain bleach or brighteners.
2. Fill a bowl with water and add vinegar at a rate of 10 ml of white vinegar per litre of water. Soak the fibres for 30 minutes to an hour.
3. Afterwards soak the fibres in clean cold water for an hour and rinse well. If you are dyeing cotton fabric, you can put it in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with no soap.
Soaping removes any remaining excess dye. Cotton and other cellulose fibres can be simmered for 10 minutes in water with a small amount of detergent. Wool, silk and other protein fibres need to be gently simmered at a lower temperature for the same time. Rinse well and dry out of the sun.
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Updated on 19 April 2021
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