Dye Removal



Colors can be removed chemically or physically.  In the first case, the dye molecules remain in place on teh shell, but are altered enough that they no longer reflect light.  In the second case, the molecules are actually removed from the shell of the egg.

There's a half dozen different ways to remove color, in order of most traditional and least harmful to the shell:

Dyeing (Rinses):

Each successive color DOES remove its predecessor, to some extent. Obviously, yellow doesn't dye well over black. The traditional color order goes from light to dark to take advantage of this feature.

So dyes can be used to remove other dyes. Orange does a particularly good job of removing color, at least in part due to a lack of vinegar (UGS Orange); many pysankarky keep a separate batch of "orange wash" just for that purpose. It is used to go form the blue/green family of dyes to reds.

UGS Gold (without vinegar) and yellow can also be used to switch from reds to blue/greens.  And pink can be used to remove green.

Water Rinse:

A rinse under plain water will remove most dye, although actually soaking the dyed egg in a cup of water is more effective. The shell usually won't go down to a pure white, but may remove enough dye to allow you switch between color families (red/green) in many cases. Use tepid, not hot, water!


Washing a dyed egg with Ivory liquid and water will do a better job than water alone. Afterwards, rinse well with plain water and dip briefly into vinegar to reset the pH before putting the egg into your next color.


Rinsing with Simple Green cleaner (or Fantastic, in some formulas) works

better than dish soap. Spray on full strength and rub it around with your

hands. Scrubbing is not necessary, but you might want to use a soft

toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Again, rinse well and dip

briefly into vinegar before dyeing the next color.


Vinegar etching will remove a layer of the shell and the color along with

it. Submerge the egg in full strength vinegar until it bubbles. Take it out

and scrub it gently with a soft toothbrush. The top layer of the shell will

come off, leaving your waxed designs slightly raised. (this may or may not

be desirable) You don't want to do this too many times, or leave it in the

vinegar for too long, as the shell will get thin and break.


Bleaching is the last method you should try, as it tends to make the shell

difficult to dye afterwards. Clean the egg with Ivory or Simple Green to

remove as much dye as possible before submerging the shell in a 50/50

solution of bleach and water. I leave it in for only 10 seconds; take it out

and set it on a newspaper or paper towel-don't dry it. After 10 or 15

minutes, the shell should be white and dry. Other people recommend soaking it in bleach solution until it turns white. (Bleach will dissolve the egg's interior membrane, but will not dissolve the shell.) After bleaching, clean it off with water and Ivory liquid, rinse well, dip it into vinegar to reset the pH, and let it dry completely. Some people suggest letting it rest for a few days, I say an hour is fine. (this resting period seems to be important) You may have to let it sit in the dye a little longer than usual after a bleach bath. Bleaching ensures the whitest white shell, and is particularly effective when you wish the background color to be white.

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