How to Care for Adire Fabrics

Originating from the Yoruba people in Southwest Nigeria, adire is a cotton fabric that has been resist-dyed using indigo. This gorgeous textile takes on a look similar to batik or shibori fabrics. Traditionally, adire dyeing has always been done by women; using either locally grown indigo leaves or imported grains.
Adire or Tie Dye fabrics are each unique in their own way- no two are ever alike. A good way to test any fabric for colourfastness is to dampen a piece of white fabric, lay it on top of the ‘suspect’ fabric and iron them both until dry. If there is any rogue colour, it will bleed out onto the white fabric.
Wash your new Adire first before wearing and hang to dry. This will get out any excess dyes. Below are two common Adire types and how to care for them.

Hand-dyed Indigo Fabrics
Unlike chemical dyes, indigo does not bleed. But because many hand-dyed indigo cloths contain excess indigo on the surface of the fibres, this excess can rub off onto your hands or your sewing machine. Therefore, you should wash indigo before you use it. Use a washing machine for best results. While you may prefer to hand wash very delicate tie-dyed fabrics such as silk or rayon, most materials do best in the washing machine. Using the machine provides the efficient and complete wash your fabric needs. Leaving loose dye in the material may cause bleeding in the colors and patterns. If you don’t have a machine at home, ask a friend if you can use theirs. Be sure they understand that you’re washing tie-dyed material and may need to run the machine several times. Soak the fabric for at least 15 minutes in cold water. Then wash at 30° C and rinse in cold water. Repeat until the water runs clear.

Hand-dyed Kola Nut & Indigo Fabrics
Kola nut is a natural dye that gives tones of brown-orange. When mixed with indigo, the colours combine to become almost black. You can wash kola nut & indigo fabrics by hand at 30° C. Because the kola nut is not as strong as indigo, you will probably lose some of the brown colour. This fabric will vary with each batch and the amount of colour that washes out will vary.  Over time the colours will generally soften.

When Washing Adire in Washing Machine;


  • Turn your washing machine to its normal cold-water cycle. Just as with hand-rinsing, Adire fabrics should be washed first in cold water. This allows the loose dye to slowly rinse out, preventing the fabric from losing too much color at once.
  • Choose synthrapol detergent for top-loading machines. Synthrapol is a special detergent that’s particularly good at rinsing excess dyes from fabrics. It’s a highly concentrated substance that will create a sudsy wash, so it should only be used in top-loading washing machines. Add 1-2 tbsp. to the machine. For heavily dyed items that you’re hoping to wash more thoroughly, add up to a ¼ cup
  • Avoid overfilling the machine. While it’s safe to wash tie-dyed fabrics together, they need enough space in the washer to get fully washed and rinsed.
  • Dry fabrics by following the instructions for the material type. Different materials require different drying methods. Cotton, for example, may shrink a bit the first time it goes through a full dryer cycle. Other, more delicate fabrics may need only a tumble-dry. Check the tag to ensure you’re drying your material correctly. If you’re worried about damage or shrinkage, allow your items to air dry.