How to Dye Clothing Using Cochineal

Method for dyeing fabrics with Cochineal

Cochineal gives the best results on silk or wool, however cotton fibers can be used provided that you have scoured and then mordanted the material first with Alum.

Preparation for Dyeing with Cochineal

25g of cochineal will dye a nearly half a kilo of wool a good red, double this amount will achieve a pink shade. When you take the first batch of fibre out of the dye bath, you can add more fibre for paler but still great colours. Make sure you’ve got plenty of space to work with, that you have safety in mind with old clothing and gloves being used, and keep away from food.

Dyeing with Cochineal

– The following day add more soft water to your dye pot leaving enough space for the fibres. Heat the cochineal to near boiling for 15 to 20 minutes.

– Let the water cool a little and then filter the dye bath fluid through a coffee filter. Use a fresh filter and do not use for any other purpose afterwards.

Add the mordanted fibres, aiming for no more than 100g of fibre (dried weight) per 10 litres of water.

– Leave it all in the pot overnight. Alternatively, simmer the fibres gently at low temperature for about 40 minutes.

– Remove the dyed material from the dye bath. Let it dry and cure for a couple of day before washing the item or fibres to ensure best results.