Scouring cotton yarn - cotton floating on top of water

Scouring Yarn before Dyeing

Cotton yarn I'm attempting to scour. At first it won't do anything but float!

Recently, I begun scouring out some ringspun cotton to restock in the shop. Have you ever tried washing unmercerized cotton? Between plant waxes and spinning oils, it takes some effort to get that cotton to wash up!

But it's also a very good example of why it is so important to scour, or pre-wash, anything you plan on dyeing.

I always scour my materials before dyeing. Some materials require more effort than others. With Tencel™, I usually use hot tap water, and add a pot of boiling water to it to make it hotter than what comes out of the tap. Some washing soda and soap, and a little agitation is all you need to scour Tencel™

Please note, I only use the drain and spin cycle in my washer. NEVER EVER use the agitation cycle with yarn or untangling yarn is your new full-time job!

But the ringspun cotton? I HAVE to scour that on the stove. It takes some serious boiling to get the waxes and oils to release from the cotton. The water turns an orangish-yellow, and all of it has the potential of resisting dye.

For more information on yarn scouring, download this Scouring Yarn PDF.

Pouring out scour water after boiling cotton
Pouring out the scour water after boiling unmercerized cotton. So much came out of the yarn! All of that has the potential of resisting dye.

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