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You are here: Home > All About Hand Dyeing > FAQs > Safety > Pregnancy


Is it safe to dye clothes with Procion MX type dyes during pregnancy?

Yes. There is no evidence that proper use of relatively non-toxic dyes, such as Procion MX dye, is harmful during pregnancy, as long as the usual appropriate precautions are taken to prevent dye absorption or consumption.

⇒Ask your dye supplier for the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for each of the dyes which you are planning to use, and follow the indicated precautions.

Unfortunately, health care providers almost never know anything about the differences in hazards between different types of dye. As a biologist, I think that it is safe to dye with fiber reactive dyes during pregnancy, as long as one is careful not to breathe dust powder (wear a dust mask when measuring out dyes), to wear gloves to prevent much skin exposure to the dye, and to wash any spilled dye to make sure that none is inadvertantly consumed. There will be no danger to your baby from the dye, if you do not absorb any of the dye.

If wearing a dust mask makes it hard for you to breathe, you should get someone else to measure out and dissolve your dyes while you are out of the room. It is not good to breathe less when you are pregnant. Or, you could consider buying dyes which are already dissolved in water. Remazol dyes are fiber reactive dyes that can be purchased in liquid form and used for up to one year after purchase. In the US, Remazol dyes are sold as Liquid Reactive Dye by PRO Chemical & Dye in Massachusetts, and as Vinyl Sulphon or Jacquard Red Label dyes by Jacquard retailers, such as Dharma Trading Company. If you are in Australia, you can order Drimarene K reactive dyes already dissolved in water from Batik Oetoro.

You should also avoid prolonged exposure to Synthrapol detergent or other cleaning agents - don't sniff it at length - but any danger from the extremely brief exposure involved in simply adding it to a washing machine load, if it exists at all, is too small to even be calculated. Using bleach as a laundry additive is certainly far more hazardous. (You should avoid exposure to bleach fumes, whether or not you are pregnant.)

Some people claim that since there's no proof that doing anything at all does not harm in pregnancy, you should not do anything when you are pregnant. This implies, of course, that you must not load a dishwasher (chemicals in the dishwashing detergent are far more toxic than Procion MX dyes or dye auxilliaries), scrub a floor (most household cleaners are far more toxic than Procion MX dyes or dye auxilliaries), or clean a bathroom (chlorine bleach and toilet bowl cleaners are vastly more toxic than Procion MX dyes or dye auxilliaries). Oddly, there is no clamour for women to give up housecleaning when pregnant; only art work is considered dispensible.

I would certainly warn against using other types of dye that belong to more dangerous dye classes, such as the naphthol dyes, which include some chemicals that are thought to be carcinogens or mutagens, during pregnancy, and some of which can easily pass through intact skin. However, I generally warn against their use in the home at any time.

Obviously, I am not and cannot be your health care provider; I cannot legally advise you as to what you should do for your health, or the health of your baby. I can only mention that I continued, with care, to do dyeing throughout my own pregnancies.

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Last updated: August 12, 2011
Page originally created: November 13, 1999
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