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Garment Dyeing With a Front Load Washing Machine
DISCLAIMER: Please note that these instructions were submitted to us by a customer and, though we think they are reliable, well written, and will likely work very well, we do not have a front loading washing machine to test it out ourselves. For this reason, you are kind of on your own to sort out any problems you may have due to different front loading machines and/or machine behaviors. If we ever get the chance to try this out ourselves, we will take another look at these directions and add our own two cents. -The Dharma Trading Co. Webteam
An older Maytag Neptune was used for this process, and it did not permit any manual overrides for the preset cycles, so it had to be reset several times, as will be explained.
Front load washers use about 8 gallons of water for a load. So adjustments are based on that number. The amount of dye used was the standard amount specified for the fabric weight.
1) Completely dissolve salt in boiling water and add it to the washing machine drum. (It is vitally important to completely dissolve the salt so that the washing machine pump and drain line aren't clogged -- failing to do so can result in a $90+ service call to clean out a load of salt!!)
2) Set the temperature of the water to "warm", and let the machine fill. Since front loading washers (FL's) sense the load weight, don't expect loads of water at this point.
3) Add calsolene oil and water softener (if your local water could be considered "hard" water).
4) While the washer is agitating the mixture, dissolve the dye in some warm water, then open the washer again and add the dye.
5) Let the washer agitate a bit to mix up the mixture. Put some paper towels on the floor, as the water splashes about quite a bit with nothing in the drum and there will be some of the dye mixture on the door which drips out when the door is opened.
6) Add the item to be dyed to the drum (IMPORTANT: Prewash the garments so that they are clean and wet before adding to the dye.), and set the FL for a heavy load. The Maytag Neptune's "heavy load" setting takes about 15 minutes. To be safe, time the session, so that the water won't drain out with all of the dye!
NOTE: Keep using the timer as this will require a number of interventions before completion!
7) After 15 minutes, turn the machine off, and set the dial back to heavy load. Dissolve Soda Ash in hot water about five minutes before the end of this cycle as it takes a while to completely dissolve.
8) Reset the machine to heavy load. Start again, and slowly add the dissolved soda ash over a 15 minute period.
9) Turn the machine off and reset to heavy load. Let the fabric tumble in the washer for 30 (light color) to 60 (dark color) more minutes, turning off the machine and resetting to heavy every 15 minutes. After the fabric has been tumbling in the soda ash/dye mixture for the necessary duration, let the washer complete the cycle, making sure that the rinse water is cold. This will rinse out the soda ash.
10) Reset the cycle to heavy load again and add dye fixative based on fabric weight. Agitate for 30 minutes. You will need to turn off the machine and reset it once.
11) Wash in hot water with Milsoft fabric softener and your FL washing machine detergent of choice.
Maureen dyed one coverlet ecru and the other olive drab. Neither had any streaks or faded areas. She got most of her instructions from our catalog, but also found some reinforcement on various websites that talked about dying in FL machines, which gave her the courage to try it out!

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