Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where's the Rit?

I concluded yesterday that most people don’t bother to try to reclaim ruined clothing, preferring instead to toss it out just like a broken toaster. When did they quit selling Rit fabric dye in every grocery store?

I luckily managed to escape the first load of wash in Italy where it became apparent that there was bleach in the Italian laundry detergent we had bought at Tutti per Tutti. I looked sadly at the splotchy clothes that came out of that load.

Instead I waited until I got back to do the same thing with Clorox! After bleaching some stains out of a white shirt, I rinsed it out (or so I thought) and tossed it in with a load of light-colored clothes. Most of them survived just fine, but a favorite cotton shirt must have gotten a little too close to the white shirt in the washer and the result was devastating.

It was a soft teal shirt I really liked so I decided to try to fix it with fabric dye. I soaked it in Clorox water to remove the remaining color. Then I drove to the super-sized Giant and went to the aisle that carries things like thread and safety pins. That’s where the Rit dye should have been. No sign of any sort of fabric dye. A seasoned employee told me they hadn’t carried it for years.

So I drove across the street to the CVS. By this time the storm had moved in with buckets of rain and 60 mph wind. I managed to make it into the CVS and asked an employee where I might find fabric dye. I knew I was in trouble when he responded “What you use that for?”

I made it back to the car without getting completely drenched and called Pearl Art Supplies (back across the street). Yes, they had Rit in multiple colors at $2 a box. So then I concluded it had been relegated to the craft of tie tying.
I purchased the Rit in teal, an approximate color of the shirt. I subsequently noticed another shirt in bright green also somewhat affected by the original problem. Taking a shortcut I decided to just throw it into the washer of teal dye in hot water.

The first shirt looks better than ever. The second one isn’t so great because I got lazy and didn’t remove all the color first, but it will be fine for yoga and just knocking around.

I can imagine that anyone under 35 reading this will never have heard of Rit. Most people over 35 probably haven’t bought a box of Rit in the last 20 years.

I’ve also been known to fix a broken toaster instead of tossing it out. This is my father’s legacy to me.


Blogger Kristin said...

I actually was just wondering about Rit! I had an incident with my favorite tote. The bag's structurally sound but splotchy. I want to fix it. Though, I've got to admit that I'm scared to try.

12:33 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

And OLD NAVY had really cute t-shirts in all colors for 6.00 each. Almost cheaper than a box of RIT and running around in the rain.
I actually had recently used RIT to dye fabric for a chuppa I had to make. She needed a pretty champagne color, (not the white or ivory that I had). The grocery store still had it then.
Hmm, tie dye, I remember those days.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- If you can figure out what color you need, I know where to get it!

Gewels -- Yes, you would probably know about Rit with all your wedding decorations. I'm impressed you made a chuppa!

Maybe some grocery stores still carry it, but I was amazed that my Giant which is about as big as a city block no longer has it.

1:05 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

I have never heard of Rit. I thought you were going to tell us that it's an exotic food you fell in love with in Europe and cannot find back here.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- My point exactly. You are of the generation that just throws out everything that's damaged or broken!

2:25 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

In the summer, I usually have a pen in my pocket when I'm lazing around (so, not all that often really, but still...), and I like really thick ink, and so, I have two pairs of shorts that used to be some other color until I got the big ink stain on them. I still haven't quite got the knack of the Rit -- it still fades faster then the ink stains do.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I've never heard of Rit, either. But that's because I proudly wear shirts with splotches!

4:40 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

ok, just because I'm from Northern California doesn't mean I know all about tie dye... wait, I do know a little and what I do know is that most self-respecting tie dyers use procien dyes which they get from

It's a cool place to visit if you are ever in the North Bay (Marin County, CA).

Just my Northern CA prespective.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ulysses -- I live with a husband who often forgets to put the top on the pen before putting it in his pocket. We are always looking for a good ink remover. That's different from needing to restore color that has been removed!

Steve -- I'll look for the blotches the next time I see you!

Kelly -- You Californians are such purists! I'm sure Rit is not organic so it would never pass muster in CA.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

The stores still sell it here though it now comes as liquid in a bottle instead of powder a box. My second graders just tie-died shirts for our field day. They looked great!

9:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I'll have to check out the liquid Rit! You were brave to do such a project with young children.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Colette Amelia said...

Welcome home, the trip looked fabulous!

11:35 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

oh! We had great fun! The kids spent half an hour twisting rubber bands around their shirts. I allowed them to gently drop them into the dye mixture and stir the bucket - not a drop was splashed. We let them sit for a couple of hours, then the kids took their dyed shirts home in zippered plastic bags to have their mothers wash them in cold water. The next day every child wore his or her shirt proudly - they were an array of crazy designs and caused no end of appreciative comments.

6:50 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

i like this post - i come from a family of fixers. In fact, fixed some converse just last week and was thinking of posting about it...

over here its Dylon though, not Rit. But i think its still pretty widely sold

3:44 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

I couldn't believe it the other day when I saw Rit dye in the powdered form at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. They had the liquid kind too. There weren't very many colors available, but they did have Teal.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- G Street was next on my list if Pearl hadn't come through.

10:56 PM  

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