Can You Dye Outdoor Cushion Covers? (Answered)

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The short answer is YES – you can dye your outdoor covers. But there are things you should understand about doing this before you even make your list to go to the store and gather supplies. 

Yes, you can dye your outdoor patio cushion covers. However, dyeing outdoor fabric is a different process than what you would need to go through to dye indoor fabric or clothing. There are other methods of changing the colors of outdoor fabric as well. 

Now that you know that you definitely can change the colors of your outdoor furniture coverings, let’s look at the whys and hows of this situation. Just keep reading and you might learn something that can save you time and money. 

Can you dye outdoor cushion covers

Why Would You Want to Dye Your Outdoor Furniture and Cushion Covers?

Some people may have their eyes set on a particular brand of cushion or furniture because of the quality or style, but then find out that the color palettes are limited. For others, it could be that over the seasons, their cushions have become discolored and need a make-over. No matter the reason, when it comes to dying your outdoor cushions, you should be aware that these cushion covers are not your typical material

Most outdoor cushion covers and even the fibers inside of them are made from some sort of blend with synthetic fabric. That means it’s probably at least 35% synthetic fiber (acetate, acrylic, or polyester most commonly). That means you cannot simply dye them the standard way. The heat needs to be consistent while dying a synthetic blend. 

What Is the Standard Method of Dying Outdoor Furniture and Cushion Covers?

The standard for dying synthetic outdoor furniture differs from the normal dying of material because the heat must remain consistent through the process. To do this, it’s best to have a large pot available to use on the stove or grill. You can find them in thrift stores or if you want to buy one online, you can find them for less than $100. 

  • Because covers tend to come with some sort of finish on them (spill resistance?) you should probably at least pre-wash the covers and just leave them damp. 
  • Be sure you are using dye made for synthetic materials. Otherwise, the color will not hold. 
  • Also, keep in mind how many pounds of material your choice of dye will take. You don’t want to skimp if you want vivid color.
  • You should fill your pot with as much water as you can, leaving room for displacement. For example, if you have a 10-gallon pot, you should fill it with between 8 ½ – 9 gallons of water. The material should be able to move around in the water. 
  • Add a spoon full of dishwashing detergent to the water to promote equalized dyeing.
  • The water should be heated to just below boiling. Then, you want to keep the water on a simmer at all times afterward. 
  • Put on gloves. 
  • Add the amount of dye you need per instructions. Stir it into the water well. 
  • Add the cushion covers.
  • Stir continuously without splashing. 
  • Once the color you want is achieved, you can remove the covers from the pot. 
  • Squeeze out excess dye and run the material under cold water until the water runs clear. 
  • Wash in warm water with mild detergent. Rinse. Dry. 
  • Add a water and sun guard to the outside of the covers (protecting it from both sunlight and moisture). Remember that the colors will dye darker, but once they’re dry, they will lighten up. 

Now, this is obviously time-extensive and somewhat monetarily expensive to accomplish. You can also wind up making a mess with the dye. Also, no matter what dye you use, it usually will fade all over again in the sunlight and weather. There are alternatives to dying your covers, or you could end up buying all new ones.

Can You Paint Your Outdoor Furniture and Cushion Covers? 

Some people swear by painting outdoor cushions. Yes. Painting them. I hadn’t heard of this before, so I did some research and it’s real. It’s actually a multi-step process that starts off like dyeing. And it can be messy, too. But, some people swear by it, because (according to the articles I researched) it adds extra protection to the cushion covers and helps them to last longer.

You will need to make the purchase of what is called Fabric Medium. You use this to keep your paint from cracking and being uncomfortable. You’ll need water to dilute the fabric medium and of course a container for all of that. Last, you’ll need enough paint to coat all of your cushions. It can be any latex paint you want to use. 

  • In a plastic bowl or container, mix one part fabric medium + one part paint + one part water. Mix it well. 
  • Dampen the fabric with a spray bottle of water. 
  • Paint the mixture onto the cushion Make sure the paint soaks into the fabric.
  • Let the cushion dry completely, then dampen it with water again. 
  • You will probably need to apply a lot of coats to accomplish this. 

Again, this method takes a lot of time and can be very messy. So you may want to just get new cushions or cushion covers. It depends on how much time and effort you really want to put into these projects.  

What Method Do You Think Would Be Best for You? 

Dyeing takes time and can be a mess. But so does painting. You could always go for purchasing new cushions, custom-made to your specifications. Or, if you’re lucky, you might find the material color and type you want and replace the cushion covers you have.

 In the past, I’ve decided to go for perhaps not so cheap, but much easier. I grabbed new cushions from discount warehouses and overstock stores. I don’t have the time to put into dyeing or painting. Not to mention, I’m accident-prone and scared I would make a mess. But, I hope reading this helps you make an informed decision.