I’m really very grateful right now for spray bleach. Without it, my basically white kitchen would resemble a Jackson Pollock wannabe. I’ve been on a dyeing spree and it’s a gloriously messy business.
I’ve been a big fan of giving faded items a facelift with store-bought dye since college. At the laundromats, the only setting seemed to be super-duper heavy duty. My ever-trendy wardrobe was often bargain items, as well, hence things had a tendency to lose their zip.
These days, I don’t have time or the inclination to spend hours and days searching for new red tennis shoes. Yes, I have a special fondness for red sneakers and you’d be absolutely amazed how hard it is to find the “right” ones. That would be ones that fit my fat feet and/or don’t cost way too much.
Even expensive tennies tend to fade, and if I am still happy with a faded pair, it’s time to dye. Up until now, I’d just dye things in my top-load washing machine. I’d follow it with a bleach-only cycle and it worked quite well. But just before it coughed out its final death spin, I went a little crazy and bought myself a gorgeous, shiny, front-loader. I imagine I could dye things in it, but I just can’t bear to risk besmirching it. Maybe in five to 10 years, but for now it’s back to the old-fashioned top-of-the-stove style.
Fortunately, one of my wedding gifts was the biggest cooking pot I had ever seen. When I got it, I marveled that I would ever need it. It has since boiled 10 pounds of shrimp, made clam chowder for 50 and, now, is my dyeing tub. It saves me from imitating Ma Kettle with a bucket in the backyard.
First I dyed my black tennis shoes … and the laces, two T-shirts and some dainties. Then I boiled up a batch of navy blue for another pair of kicks and tossed in several shirts I have ruined with a bleach stripe across the front. Voila!
While I had a pot full of hot dye, I also dismantled and tossed in my fading backyard director chairs. Then I did the same with a batch of red … the aforementioned tennis shoes and more deck chairs.
The final batch was dark green to resuscitate my favorite sweatshirt from Maine. It had some very mysterious bleach spots on the back. I find myself wondering if I have been cleaning in my sleep, wearing my clothes backward.
Nonetheless, I felt so frugal, I nearly burst. I found myself madly searching my closets for anything else that had the bad judgment to fade on me. It would be immediately dyed back to health.
Part of my enthusiasm is prompted by the fact that the dye was harder to come by than it used to be. My local supermarket has annoyingly decided to stop carrying clothing dye. As my search widened, I discovered the nearest drugstore never has had it. I was horrified! After a three-city search for drugstores and supermarkets that do carry it, I will now take my business elsewhere, and I’m buying up several bottles of all my favorite colors, just in case.
After the big one hits and you realize all you have to wear is that faded old bathrobe or some tacky T-shirt, just drop on by. You might be hungry, but I’ll see to it that you will never be dull.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.