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How to Dye with Kool-Aid Drink Mix

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Kool-aid as a Non-Toxic Dye

Kool-aid has been around for a long time. The goliath pitcher that broke through the wall to the yells of "Hey, Kool-aid!" probably gave more kids nightmares than any other commercial in history. The sugary fruit flavors made great drinks and incredible popsicles. It would not have been summer without it.

Kool-aid can be used to dye many things including:

  • t-shirts
  • wool
  • human hair.

If you are "dying" to have grape color highlights or cherry tips then kool-aid may be just what you are looking for.

When used as a fabric or fiber dye, kool-aid makes a safe, nontoxic dye that you can feel comfortable with in any project. It is especially good for projects for babies and small children because they tend to put so many things in their mouths.

Kool-aide has always been about summer and these are some great summer projects to try.

How to dye Hair with Koolaid

  1. Mix two packets of unsweetened kool-aid mix with about two tablespoons of good hair conditioner.

  2. Get your hair wet.

  3. Always use gloves or your hands may be a bright kool-aid color!

  4. Put on your gloves and work the kool- aid into your hair. Make sure to thickly coat each stand of hair.

  5. Wrap your head in plastic wrap and leave the kool-aid on your hair for at least six hours or overnight. The longer it stays on the brighter the color will be.

  6. Rinse well.

Warning, if your hair is naturally dark many colors will not show up unless you bleach it first.

Dying Fiber with Kool-aid

If you are a spinner no doubt you have experimented with natural dyes on your handspun fibers. The rich, autumn colors of goldenrod, walnut and pokeberry are muted and beautiful but if you want something colorful it is hard to find a dye that will get you the color you are looking for.

Kool-aid is great for this. The different fruit flavors make different color dyes and they are really unmatched for brightness and variety. The dye made from kool-aid is long lasting and best of all, completely safe for both children and the environment.

To dye fiber with kool-aid:

  • Kool-aid packets in desired color or colors

  • Stainless steel or enamel pot

  • Spun wool

  • Vinegar

Adjust the intensity of the dye with the number of packets of kool-aid that you use. Use unsweetened kool-aid and do not add sugar!

As a rule of thumb two packets will be about right for enough yarn to make a scarf. You want the yarn to be totally immersed in the dye. Add ΒΌ cup of vinegar per quart of kool-aid powder to act as a mordant and set the dye. Heat the mixture with the yarn in it to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir the yarn around to make sure that it is evenly dyed.

Allow the yarn to cool in the dye. Remove from dye and rinse in cold water until the water runs clear. Squeeze gently as you are rinsing for best results.

Dying Fiber with Kool-aid

Tie-Dying Fabric with Kool-Aid

Tie dying fabric is similar to tie dying fiber. You will need:

  • T-shirt or fabric

  • Unsweetened kool-aid

  • Vinegar

  • Small plastic bowls, one for each color you want to use

  • Plastic gloves

  • Rubber bands

1. For every color you are using put one or two packages of Kool-Aid, one quart of boiling water, and one ounce of vinegar in a plastic bowls. Add another packet for a deeper color.

2. Mix until kool-aid is completely mixed in and dissolved.

3. Use the rubber bands to pull and twist the T-shirt (or unbleached muslin) into different sized "ponytails" or bunches.

4. Dip the ends in the different bowls, without mixing colors. Use gloves or your hands will be a mess.

5. Set the colors by ironing on a high heat. Use a press cloth.

6. Set aside for 24 hours

7. Wash separately the first time. Use cold water and a cold water rinse.

Summer Fun

Using kool-aid to dye various things can be an addictive hobby. It is fun to mix the different drink packets and come up with new and unusual colors. It is a great project to do with kids because it smells pleasant and the dyes are so nontoxic. They are inexpensive and readily available as well.

Kids love to be creative and this is a great way for them to learn about mordants, the dying process and how to just have a great time with mom!


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    • profile image

      Autumn 5 years ago

      How long does it stay in? I have blonde hair and I want to know.

    • profile image

      randomeviewer 5 years ago

      my friend did the tips of her hair read and it is awesome. She did not use bleach but it is still extremely bright

    • profile image

      Afiroxs 6 years ago

      i tried boiling the punch for my hair it's bin in for a monthis their a way to get it out

    • profile image

      Zacklover 6 years ago

      Thiss Issss Awesomeee ;D

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Lisa - I am not sure at all. Sorry.

    • profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago

      i have blond hair. do you know about how long a kool-aid dye would last in my hair?

    • profile image

      3lizabeth 6 years ago

      i just died my hair with tropical punch n cherry kool aid .my hairs liqht brown . i think it miqht work but how lonq shud i leave it in ?

    • profile image

      kacee876 6 years ago

      Been dyeing my hair with kool-aid since high school. Still do it from time to time but thing is, it stains the collar of my shirts all the time... I gotta try it with fabric though....kool!!!

    • profile image

      Maddi 6 years ago

      I have light brownish- dark brownish red hair. If I tried 2 kool-aid dye it red like... dark kinda red should it work?

    • profile image

      ashley 6 years ago

      I don't want to bleach my hair are u insane???what if I just strip it

    • profile image

      lil mama 6 years ago

      how are you supposed to bleach your hair?

    • stylezink profile image

      stylezink 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

      Thank you for sharing this! I have been wanting to try it in my hair for some highlights but never knew how! Great info and hub! Thanks again! I've got black cherry in the pantry and will be trying it out this weekend.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      No clue... Give it a try.. It won't damage your hair

    • profile image

      krikri 6 years ago

      i have tropical punch kool aid in my hair and i was wondering what would happen if i left it in for a full 24 hours

    • profile image

      MelyMelaluna 6 years ago

      Oh and i forgot to ask... Marye my hair strangely,(and naturally) turned from a sandy blonde to an almost black-brown by itself. Do you think the red will be the same color as when it was blonde if i leave it in longer? :p

    • profile image

      carly 6 years ago

      just dyed my tips red with koolaid.! :)

    • profile image

      busymommy 6 years ago

      made tye-die shirts for girls at my daughter's slumber party!! they had a blast!!

    • profile image

      shelby 6 years ago

      i just died my hair with red kool aid...! (cherry). and it is the best one so far:) it is amazing and really really really red.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Allie, probably not

    • profile image

      Allie Crockett 6 years ago

      Okay i have Dark brown hair and want to dye the bottom and tips purple can i do it without bleach if i just use more packets of kool-aid i don't want to bleach it so can that work?

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Several washing but use vinegar as a mordant

    • profile image

      cheryl k. 6 years ago

      I want to dye school t-shirts with my students at Austin EcoSchool, how long will the dye stay vibrant, or at least semi vibrant???

      This sounds like a great use for Koolaid!

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Yes but you will need to set it with a vinegar mordant. You run the risk of it washing out eventually

    • profile image

      Maria Lou 6 years ago

      I want to dye the bottom of a dress with kool aid. Does this work with that too? Please help!

    • profile image

      Savvy 6 years ago

      I used blue dye in my hair for approx. 15 hours, ended up turquoise =D I love it.

    • profile image

      sara101 6 years ago

      im doing the dying now i love it i did one strand red im doing the rest of it or im gonna do the tips lol

    • profile image

      Cindy 7 years ago

      I have a 3year old that wanted some purple strand of hair so we used the grape koolaid and it turned out blue...which she was fine with but why didn't it turn purple. We only left it on for about an hour as she wanted to be done with it. Any tips?

    • profile image

      Spinnergirl 7 years ago

      I've been a fiberartist for about 35 years now. I've never had to use vinegar to make the kool-aid set better in the wool. Simply mix the powder into the water, place wool gently into, squeeze (use gloves) gently to get the air out from between the wool, then heat on a stove over low heat until whisps of steam come off the water, then turn off the heat and simply let the kool-aid set into the wool.

      You can do sun-jar Kool-Aid dyeing as well with no vinegar needed.

    • profile image

      Kori 7 years ago

      I dyed my hair with koolaid a will ago it lasted months but it was super cute I hade to dye it out! I am re dyeing it now it smells like lemons and rasberys and grapes it's gonna be black(old) and blue(new) it's gonna be pimp:)

    • profile image

      Paris 7 years ago

      i like the fact of dying you hair with kool-aid i did mine one time and it came out to be dark red i luvd it. there is no reason why ppl shouldn't want to try kool-aid on the hair because for 1 you're save lots of money and the color lastes for only a few weeks

    • profile image

      miss sarah 7 years ago

      this is very messy and will dye your hands if you don't use gloves... BUT windex will take it off your skin. Super fun activety, that even the pickist child will like to do!!

    • profile image

      Color wonder! 7 years ago

      im dyin my hair purple right now! smells yummay!

    • profile image

      gothicdancer 8 years ago

      I have red hair and I tried dyeing my hair purple and it dident work now its brownish and wet looking any one now how to fix it and get color with out bleach???

    • profile image

      love 8 years ago

      that's crazy theres no way am using koolaid on my hair to dye it.that's just crazy

    • profile image

      Terri Stallcop 9 years ago

      Koolaid dye! How Kool is that! :)

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 9 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      Hi Marye!

      I can't believe it! My husband and I were just talking about this in the car yesterday. He said his sister once used red Kool-aid to dye a pair of white canvas sneakers!

    • glycodoc profile image

      glycodoc 9 years ago

      This is the last thing I would have thought of using Kool-aid for! Will have to pass this on to my grandchildren.