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How do I make my baby blue into dark blue?

How do I make my baby blue into dark blue?

If you have a baby onesie or other baby clothing item that is a light blue color, there are a few methods you can use to dye it a darker shade of blue at home. While it’s not as simple as just throwing the item in with some navy dye, with a bit of effort you can transform light blue into a deep, rich blue quite easily.

What Supplies Will I Need to Dye Baby Blue Darker?

Dyeing any fabric a darker shade requires using a dye that is a darker color than the original fabric. So to make a light blue item into a dark blue, you will need:

  • Navy or other dark blue fabric dye
  • Large pot or bucket for dye bath
  • Tongs or spoon for stirring dye bath
  • Rubber gloves to protect your hands
  • Old towels
  • Washing machine (or basin/tub for handwashing)

It’s best to use clothing dyes specifically intended for fabric when dyeing baby clothes or other items. All-purpose Rit dye or Dharma Trading dyes work well. Make sure to get dye formulated for cellulose fibers like cotton, not protein fibers like wool.

How to Dye Baby Blue Clothing Darker Blue

Dyeing light blue cotton baby clothes into a deep navy involves these basic steps:

  1. Wash the item to be dyed. It should be clean and free of stains.
  2. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the item and heat to simmering.
  3. Add the dye to the water following package directions.
  4. Add the baby item and stir gently with tongs frequently for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from dye bath and rinse well with cold water until water runs clear.
  6. Wash dyed item with mild detergent before use.

The basic process is straightforward, but there are some important tips to get the best results dyeing light blue baby clothes darker:

Use Very Hot Water

Heating the dye bath to at least 180 F before adding the dye allows the dye molecules to better penetrate the fabric and binds the color more permanently. This helps the final color be darker and less likely to fade with washing.

Stir Frequently

Agitating the item frequently as it soaks in the dye bath helps the dye fully saturate the fabric. This gives a more uniform, all-over color instead of splotchy results.

Simmer, Don’t Boil

Letting the dye bath come just to a simmer helps the dye set up to bind to the fabric properly. Boiling water can damage some dyes. Gentle simmering around 180 F gives you plenty of hot water for dyeing without ruining the dye itself.

Add Salt

Adding a bit of plain table salt, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup per gallon of water, can help make the dye color darker. The salt helps drive dye into the fabric more effectively.

Soak for at Least 30 Minutes

Don’t rush the dyeing process! Soaking the baby clothing in the heated dye bath for at least half an hour ensures the dye has enough time to fully bond with the fabric. Longer soaking times yield darker colors.

Rinse Thoroughly

After dyeing, rinse the item under cold running water until the water runs completely clear. This removes any excess dye and prevents staining other items or your baby’s skin later on.

Wash Separately the First Time

Brand new dyed baby clothes should be washed separately the first time to prevent any residual unfixed dye from staining other laundry. Afterward they can be washed with other items as normal.

What Kind of Dye Works Best?

When dyeing baby clothes at home, fiber reactive dyes designed specifically for use on plant-based fibers like cotton are your best bet. All-purpose RIT dye and Dharma Trading dyes work very well. Some options include:

Dye Features
Rit All-Purpose Dye Popular general use dye good for cotton, comes in many colors including dark blue
Dharma Navy Blue Cotton Dye Rich specifically formulated cotton dye for dark blues
Dharma Indigo Blue Cotton Dye Good for dark blue denim effects on cotton

Avoid using all-in-one dye kits with synthrapol additive, as those are meant for dyeing synthetics and may not bind as well to natural fibers like cotton. Stick to simpler, cotton-specific dyes.

What Kind of Pot Should I Use for Dyeing?

You’ll need a vessel large enough to fully immerse the baby items you want to dye. Enameled pots or stainless steel pots and buckets work best:

  • Enameled pot: The smooth enameled surface won’t react with dye. Look for a 2-3 gallon capacity pot.
  • Stainless steel pot: Also non-reactive and good for dyeing. Get at least a 5 quart size.
  • Plastic bucket: Food-safe plastic works fine. 5 gallon buckets are a versatile option.

Avoid uncoated aluminum, iron, or copper pots as these can react with dye and create stains or discoloration issues. Don’t use any cooking pots or pans you plan to use for food later – dedicate a special container just for dyeing projects.

Can I Dye Cotton Baby Clothes in My Washing Machine?

Yes, you can! Dyeing cotton fabric like t-shirts, onesies, and other baby items in your washing machine works quite well. Here’s a simple technique:

  1. Dissolve the dye in very hot water in a bucket to make a concentrated dye bath, following package directions.
  2. Place wet baby item in washing machine tub and add the dissolved dye directly.
  3. Run a hot wash cycle with the water temperature set as high as possible.
  4. After washing machine cycle finishes, check color. Repeat if darker color is desired.
  5. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear.
  6. Wash alone before wearing to remove excess dye.

Many people prefer to dye in the washing machine as it simplifies the entire process – no need to manually stir and transfer items. Just be sure to run the machine empty afterwards on hot to flush out any leftover dye!

How Can I Dye Just Part of a Baby Outfit?

Selectively dyeing only portions of a baby’s outfit while leaving the rest of the garment unchanged requires some special techniques. Here are a few ways to dye just certain parts of a baby onesie or other clothing item a darker color:


Tie-dyeing involves gathering up sections of the fabric and tying them tightly with string or rubber bands before dyeing. The tied up sections resist absorbing dye. It’s a fun technique for adding patterns and designs.


Cut stencils from cardboard or thick plastic and place them on the clothing item before dyeing to create designs and shapes that remain undyed.

Blocking with a Resist

Apply a dye blocking paste or gel substance to areas you want to keep light blue before dyeing the rest of the item. These resists prevent covered sections from absorbing dye.

Painting or Spraying Dye

Use a small paint brush or spray bottle to selectively apply dye just to certain portions of the fabric for controlled, precise effects.

With some creative planning and techniques like these, you can turn a plain baby onesie or t-shirt into a custom work of art!

What Kind of Blue Dye is Best for a Vintage Faded Look?

To dye baby clothes blue with a faded, worn-in vintage look, dyes that produce an indigo effect work beautifully. Here are some good options:

  • Dharma Indigo Blue Cotton Dye – Gives a classic denim blue color that fades naturally over time.
  • Jacquard iDye – Their denim blue shade dyes items to look like vintage faded jeans.
  • Rit Synthetic Indigo Dye – Designed for synthetics but can be modified to work on cotton too for great vintage fading effects.

Using one of these dyes and allowing the item to fade gradually with multiple washes will give baby clothes a perfectly broken-in, comfy look.

How Much Dye is Needed to Dye Baby Clothes?

As a general guideline, you’ll want to use approximately:

  • 1/4 tsp dye powder per 1 pound dry weight fabric for pale tints
  • 1/2 tsp dye powder per 1 pound dry weight fabric for medium shades
  • 1 tsp dye powder per 1 pound dry weight fabric for dark colors

So for a 5 ounce onesie, about 1/2 tsp dye would give you a rich dark color. Adjust the amount based on the starting color and your desired darkness level.

Should I Add Vinegar to My Dye Bath?

Adding a bit of plain white vinegar to your dye bath, around 1/4 cup per gallon of water, can help make dye colors set better on cotton fabric. The acid in the vinegar assists with binding the dye to the fibers. However, vinegar is not a must – dyes will work fine without it. Just be sure to use hot 140°F+ water for best results either way.

Can I Use Food Coloring to Dye Baby Clothes?

Food coloring made from FD&C dyes may seem like an easy shortcut for dyeing baby items, but it’s not recommended. Food dyes are not formulated to permanently bind to fabric – any color will quickly bleed and fade right out when washed. Stick with specialty clothing dyes like Rit or Dharma brands for dyeing baby onesies and clothes.


Dyeing light blue cotton baby clothes, onesies, and accessories to a darker navy or indigo shade is totally doable at home with minimal supplies. Use cotton-specific clothing dye in very hot 180°F water, stir frequently while soaking for 30+ minutes, and be sure to rinse thoroughly. With the right materials and some simple procedures, you can easily overhaul your baby’s wardrobe with rich new colors.