Kool-Aid Dyed Playsilks


A couple months ago I came upon a tutorial on The Artful Parent for Kool-Aid Dyed Playsilks. I hadn’t really heard about playsilks before that but upon further investigation found out that they’re awesome. They can be pretty much anything your child wants them to be: capes, dresses, blankets, scenery, tents and the list goes on and on.

So, seven of us got together with our seven toddlers (all under 2 years) and dyed 42 playsilks in total. We started around 11 am and didn’t finish until about 5 pm. We did six scarves at a time, with the other mothers pitching in to watch the child of whoever was working on their playsilks. It was a blast seeing so many babies toddlers (oops) running around the house!

After we did the first batch of Kool-Aid packets, some of the mothers decided to get a bit creative with color combination and as a result we ended up with 14 different color at the end of the day. Most of us only did one round of microwaving/sitting and the difference between those that did two rounds was only minimal. We wrote down most of the color combinations so that we would remember exactly how to recreate a color and I thought some of you might be interested in them. I also made a printable project list with all the color combinations as well. Figured it would be easier for you if you didn’t have to run back and forth from the kitchen and the computer!

Edit: Here are a few answers to some of the more popular questions posted in the comments.

Where did you get your scarves/What size were they?
We did a bulk order of 30″ Habotai Scarves from Dharma Trading Co. (around $4.00 each). Non-bulk orders come out to $.16 more per scarf.

Will these bleed?/How do you prevent them from bleeding?
The colors will wash out over time and fade if you wash them often. We just use them for indoor play so quite frankly, I’ve never had to rewash them. (That’s kinda embarrassing to admit.) Rinsing them in vinegar after dying the silks will help set the color more.

Will this process work on other materials (cotton, wool, hair, etc)?
A few of you have mentioned that Kool-Aid will also dye hair and washes out after a few washes. As for other fabrics, I know a ton of people dye raw wool with Kool-Aid and make yarn out of it so I’m sure you can find quite a few tutorials if you google it. Cotton? I honestly have no idea but let me know if any of you try! 🙂

I can’t read the color combinations! Please help?
You can find all the exact combinations on my printable project list as well as below:

Pink – 3 Pink Lemonade
Red – 2 Chery/2 Jamaica
Maroon – 2 Cherry/1 Blue Berry
Orange – 3 Orange
Dk Orange – 3 Orange/1 Cherry
Yellow – 3 Lemonade
Dk Yelow – 3 Lemonade/1 Orange
Green – 4 Lemon Lime/1 Blue Berry
Lime Green – 3 Lemon Lime
Blue – 4 Blue Berry/1 Grape
Sky Blue – 3 Blue Berry
Purple – 3 Grape
Brown – 2 Lemonade/1 Grape/1 Orange
Dk Brown – 1 Lemonade/1 Grape/1 Orange



About Vanessa Brady

Vanessa Brady is a craft blogger, mother of two boys, and a hot sauce junkie. She's been running Tried & True for over 7 years and her tutorials have been featured in numerous craft books and publications.


    • Interesting. When my daughter was a toddler (she is now 25) I just went to second hand stores like Goodwill and bought old scarves. She loved em and even wore a red one round her head so she would have beautiful ‘red’ hair like the Little Mermaid.

  1. quick question, if i dye my pillow covers….. will koolaid be all over my face when i wake up from a night of drooling?

    PS- very kool idea.

  2. it’s sort of freaky that people let their kids drink kool-aid if it can produce cloth dyed this vividly.

    • well there are all kinds of natural foods that can do the same thing…beet juice is used in plenty of dyes, think about how pomegranates dye your hands, I don’t think that the way kool-aid dyes something is a reason to not drink it…I think its the sugar content that kids shouldn’t drink it.

  3. My gosh. This stuff can do wonderful things to fabric. I cant believe people actually drink it. Imagine what it must do to your insides!

  4. I’m really glad stumble brought me here. I can’t wait to try this. Thank you for sharing the color chart!

  5. I stumbled on this as well, and I love it! I have a baby on the way and this is going to be a great project for me during my away-from-work down time (hopefully I’ll have some!) I had no idea this could be done with kool aid. My only question is, will the color bleed out in the wash?

    • If you are major worried about the color coming out in the wash you can put color catchers in the wash. I put them in with all the clothes we wash.

  6. GREAT stumbled it XD its so cool and easy to understand and i think imma try it thanks

  7. hey, im just wondering, how permanent is this. if i were to do this to a shirt would it wash out?

    does it need to be a certain type of material for the dye to permanently stain it?

  8. Stumbled this too. You should def sign up for google AdSense and try to make a little money from the stumble popularity. I’ll thumbG up it.

  9. OMG I love tie dyes. This is great! I use to temporarily dye my hair with Kool-aid. Thanks for the idea. Stumbled her too.

  10. yes – kool aid will permanently stain light fabrics, with pretty much no exceptions. not much will take it out ever. it might become lighter after washing but will be permanently stained.

  11. V – how exciting to get so much traffic 🙂 I’m so happy for you and I hope it turns into more business as well! Yay!

      • Yes, playdate! We’re leaving for vacation soon, but I’ll get in touch with you again when we return to town 🙂 Again, congratulations on all the new traffic (I hope it turns into business, too!).

  12. To the folks amazed that people drink it when it can dye so vividly. Have you ever eaten beets, had red wine, or spilt grape juice? Most dyes are made from natural sources that are completely harmless.

    On a side note. Kool-aide will wash out, and it will bleed with moisture. It also makes a pretty nifty temporary hair dye for halloween, or just for fun colors in general. It will last a couple of washes, but is rather simple to remove in just one shower session if you choose. It will also wash out of any fabric dyed with it eventually.

  13. It’s a real shame that I’ve spent so much on actual fabric dye all these years! Never again! Thanks for this tip! (I stumbled onto your page as well — Congratulations on the traffic!)

  14. I love this idea. Who knew you could do this???? One question is when you say silks you did not give the yard length. or is it just a yard??? it would be nice to know.

  15. Just stumbled in and found your dye project and loved it!! Thanks for the color chart…it sure helps!! I couldn’t find the printable option so I guess I’m going to have to run from the kitchen to the computer….LOL! Hugs from Ecuador!

  16. this makes me smile. can’t wait to try it out.. is the material being silk key? or will this work the same with cotton?

  17. Worried about drinking something that can dye fabric this vividly??? Then please stay away from blueberries, grape juice, coffee, raspberries………

  18. I remember back in middle school when it was the “in” thing to color your hair with it. Red was my fave! Beats Manic Panic.

  19. this is so cool! my baby’s just about to turn one so i will definitely get good use out of something like this. also found this through stumble.

    this helped me to realize why i don’t like koolaid much any more. anything with food coloring seems to dye my tounge more than a normal person’s. 🙂

  20. This is soooo freakin awesome!! It just shows you the ultimate greatness of
    Kool-aid!!! It’s a drink but it has sooo many more uses!

  21. Stumbled this and its absolutely brilliant wow the colors are gorgeous although I’ll definitely not be drinking cool aid or allowing my kid sister to if this is how it dyes things thats worrisome.

  22. Let’s stop talking about what KOOL-AID does to our insides. Most everything that’s bought and eaten today has food coloring in it. It’s harmless. Are you worried that your insides will turn pretty colors’? Yeah, thought not. Grrr.

    • i agree with you. suckers turn your tongue different colors and people still eat them… idk what the big deal is. i found this on stumble the day after Easter though, but i will save it for next year to dye eggs

  23. These are fantastic. Did you use uniform silks for this? Is it a special kind of scarf or can you use anything? Do certain materials work better than others?

    Thanks for sharing!

  24. Oh. My. God.

    I Stumbled on this, and I think it’s fantastic!

    I ordered those scarves from the site you linked, and got 8 of them for about $20 with shipping included!

    I’m recently OBSESSED with scarves, and buying them for a minimum of $5 a piece is….a ripoff now. 😀


  25. i have a small tie dye business and i thought that kool aid dying would be way cheaper than buying the packets of die but when i tried it my shirts came out white after i washed them. what exact process do you use?

  26. I love this idea! i’m studying to be a preschool teacher and want playsilks to be a part of the atmosphere. Does anyone know where to get the silks?

  27. Do you have to use silk or is there any other fabric that can be used? I’ve read about dyeing yarn and they say to use animal fibers like wool. What do you think? I appreciate any help!

  28. You are a genius! Thank-you for sharing your wealth of kool-aid knowledge with us. I know I will benefit from this masterful chart you put together. It might even save me some heartache! I love your site too!

  29. I would love to make some for my Kindergarten class. My students wear white dress shirts as part of their uniform so my inquiry is all about how you kept them from the colour bleeding? Can you please share.

  30. Thanks for a great post.
    You mention using the koolaid as hair dye.
    It works! But a word of caution, it may not fully wash out. I used it once on my dark blond hair. Most of the color washed out after 2 weeks. But a few pink streaks stayed on and on. I know I still had some pink a year later.

  31. The chart is really helpful! Thanks. Our daughter goes to a Waldorf Kindergarten and they collect marigold petals to dye silks every fall for Michaelmas. I would have to ask what the fixative is but they come out bright yellow and beautiful!

  32. I love how these look. Were you able to dye multiple scarfs with each dye bath or did it take 3-4 packages of kool aid for each scarf?

    • Sarah- I’ve dyed yarn with Kool-Aid and I would say each dye bath can be used for multiple scarves- BUT- I would put them all in at the same time if you want them all to be the same shade. If you dye one, take it out, dye another, take it out, dye another, take it out, they will progressively get lighter.

  33. Kool-Aid drink powders are basically acid based dyes and as such won’t work on cotton or other cellulose fibers (ie linen, etc).

    If you add some vinegar to the water with the Kool Aid, it will create a more acid dye bath and help the color bond to the fabric.

    Another type of dye that is food safe is Wilton cake dye. These are particularly fun to work with as you can get several colors from one source, depending on the temperature of the water. The purple and black are loads of fun to watch. You only need a very little bit of the cake dye to get very intense colors.

  34. how much water did you use?
    I love this idea we always have extra kool-aid around and I am going to be redecorating mine and my husbands bedroom and have a really cool idea and would love to to this with some white sheets we don’t use. so would like to try this and someone previously had mention if we add some vinigar to the water it might stick so I am going to try this if i can get a answer soon!

  35. I have rayon skirts from Dharma Trading. Will kool aid work on that fabric – if I set it in vinegar afterwards?

  36. I am not only a crafter but also a sewer. I think white cotton would work pretty good as well. Leave it at its 45″ wide off the bolt, and either have 1 yard cuts which is 36″ or have it cut 1 1/4 yard for 45″ square. Then zigzag the raw (cut) edges before laundering and dying.

    For those those are worried about staining, has no one ever cleaned up spilled red kool-aid with a little bleach? Works instancly and like a charm.


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