DIY Color: Dye It Yourself With Kool-Aid

With the help of our friend Ana we’re going to take you through some ways to use Kool-Aid as a colorful, affordable and environmentally safe dye.

Kool-Aid dyeing works best with animal fibers. Which means you can dye your hair but you might have trouble with your cotton t-shirts.

What You Will Need:


  • Kool-Aid, in as many colors as you can find (try looking in your kid’s, or ‘Nintendo loving’ roommate’s, drawers)
  • Microwave or stove
  • Containers to soak, bake and cool the yarn
  • A place to dry the yarn.


Getting Started


Let the yarn soak in a dish filled with lukewarm water and a squirt of dish soap for 30 minutes until soaked all the way through.

Remember: Cover your work surfaces to protect against staining by using plastic bags.

Combine 1/2 cup water to one packet of Kool-Aid and stir until smooth.

Use the proper tool for the job. The tennis racket cocktail stirrer served multiple uses. The stick-end was used to stir up the KoolAid dye mixtures and the racket-end was great for scooping the test mini-skeins out of the hot water.

Making Color Test Swatches


Put each test skein of yarn into a glass and fill with lukewarm water until covered. Then add 2-1/2 tsps of Kool-Aid mixture and gently squash the yarn down.

Place glasses in microwave, “one or two at a time works best,” for two minutes on high.

After steaming, the yarn should have soaked up most of the color and the water should appear clear.

Once cooled, run tepid water through the yarn, squeeze out any excess moisture, then find a place to hang the yarn to dry.

Remember: In an effort to keep everything organized, line up the dye mix cups and the finished dye swatches on top of the Kool-Aid envelope so you won’t get Strawberry mixed up with Cherry or Tropical Punch. After microwaving each yarn swatch in a glass, microwave-safe container, I transferred them into a plastic cup to cool (since I don’t have enough glass for 18+ cooling yarn swatches).

Dyeing A Larger Amount


To dye a half a skein at once Ana uses a large casserole dish in the microwave heating in 3 to 5 minute intervals until the water turns clear (it should take about 15 minutes). Allowing the dish to sit covered for a few minutes between each heat cycle.

Using a Stovetop


Starting with room temperature water, slowly pour Kool-Aid mixture into the jars and gently mash it around.

Once Kool-Aid is mixed with yarn, turn burner on to medium heat. Cook for around 45 minutes until the color has been absorbed by the yarn. Let cool.

Kool-Aid Color Mixtures from Ana


From left to right:
Marigold orange created by mixing equal parts Pina-Pineapple and Orange
Celery green yarn was created using large doses of Switchin’ Secret.
Red plum created using equal parts Grape Berry Splash and Roarin’ Raspberry Cranberry.

For this combination, I used mostly Pink Lemonade, Orange and Lemonade with a little bit of Tropical Punch on the far left edge and a bit of Pina-Pineapple on the far right.

The primary colors used were a double dose of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, a single dose of Changin’ Cherry (which is actually a turquoise color despite the name to the contrary) and a mixture of Grape with a few drizzles of Grape Berry Splash.

Thanks again to Ana for her photos, tips and instructions.

More on Kool-Aid dyeing: here and here

Title photo from greeneyesmilw

Were you looking for something less messy? Check out Creative Market for some kool digital downloads.

Author: evad
David Sommers has been loving color as COLOURlovers' Blog Editor-in-Chief for the past two years. When he's not neck deep in a rainbow he's loving other things with The Post Family (, a Chicago-based art blog, artist collective & gallery.

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