How to Scour Cellulose Fabric

Poo’miikapi Textiles Workshop | Indigenous Plant Dyeing | Othapiaaki Fashion Week 2018 | Treaty 7 Land, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

scour01Scouring fabric means to wash it in hot soapy water to remove excess starch or sizing and natural grease. This is the first step in preparing fabric for natural dyeing. The information provided below is only for cellulose or plant based fibers. Cellulose fibers include: cotton, linen, ramie, hemp, viscose rayon, bamboo, jute, paper, wood and basket reed, as well as combination blends. It helps achieve even color and dye penetration into fibers of fabric. Fabric sold as “read for dyeing” or PFD (prepared for dyeing) will generally not need scouring. NOTE: Wear kitchen gloves when hand washing scoured fabric because soda ash will cause skin on your hands to peel.

scour04Recipe to Scour Fabric:

  1. Machine wash in hot water using ONE of the following:
    • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda 3/4 Cup
    • Soda Ash 1/4 Cup
    • Pool & Spa pH Increaser 1/4 Cup
  2. Dissolve washing soda, soda ash or Pool Increaser in a cup of hot water before adding to washing machine because it has a tendency not to dissolve well and will turn into hard lumps in the bottom of your machine.
  3. After washing fabric, dry in hot dryer prior to dividing yardage into smaller units.  Don’t add fabric softener or dryer sheets because they prevent dye from binding to the fabric.
  4. For sheer and delicate cottons, scour by hand in a stainless steel pot on a burner for at least one hour. Add 1-Tablespoon of Washing Soda and 1-Teaspoons of Blue Dawn per gallon of water. Add enough water so that fabrics aren’t crowded and have room to freely float. Stir often so fabric doesn’t get scorched on the bottom of the pot. Think of this process as being the same as making pudding.


Published by Carola Jones, Artist

Indigenous Artist, Writer, Designer | Internet Techie | Pow Wow Dancer | Lover of Dyeing Cloth Especially With Indigo, Madder & Marigold | 4th Generation Hand Embroidery & Sewing Enthusiastic | Working Traveler | NC Toisnot & Mattamuskeet Tuscarora & FL Seminole | Algonquin Gullah Mixed Blood

One thought on “How to Scour Cellulose Fabric

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