Ageing Sprays – Tips & Techniques

On which fabrics can I use Dirty Down Sprays?

  • Identify the textile you are about to age before applying any of the sprays or crayons for the best results. Check:
    • adhesion- will the product stick
    • resistance- does the product rub off
    • washing- will the product wash off
  • When possible test on hidden surfaces or off/cuts, then let dry and wash in cold water with washing powder to check the results. Bear in mind that some of the effects are irreversible and can cause discoloration.
  • Textiles are normally classified by the type of fibre they are made of and its origin, which can be:
    • Natural fibres. Cellulose (from plants): cotton, linen, hemp, ramie, sisal and jute.
    • Protein (from animals): silk, wool, cashmere, mohair, angora and alpaca.
    • Synthetic fibres. Nylon, viscose, polyester, acrylic, cellulose acetate, cellulose triacetate, rayon, polyethylene, spandex and many more.
    • Mixed fibres. Some fabrics are produced with a mix of different fibres, synthetic and natural, like silk and viscose for example which is commonly used for the devoré technique.
  • Each type of fibre reacts in a different way, so try to adapt to the nature of it instead of trying to achieve the same results with all of them.
  • Natural fibres are the best for dyeing as they are very absorbent and will resist many techniques and treatments, such as high temperatures and chemicals.
  • Cotton is the most widely used natural-fibre cloth in clothing today, so you will find lots of garments made of it. It is used for period costumes, upholstery and furniture, and is often a cheap alternative to linen.
  • Some materials blend cotton with other fibres, such as rayon or polyester, so you should know this may affect your final results too.
  • There is a wide range of cotton fabrics according to its texture, thickness, softness.
  • Synthetic and mixed fabrics are not so absorbent, this means the dye will stay on the surface, therefore it will be easier to wash out but it may also be less resistant to uses.
  • As said above, try spraying a small piece of the fabric before applying to a bigger surface.

What colour fabrics are best?

  • The colour of the fabric you use is very important.
  • When possible use white, off-white or lighter colours. The results will be better, you can do tone over tone or faded effects easily and any of our colours will be visible.
  • You will find though that some colours are barely noticeable on dark fabrics and hard to apply. This can be frustrating sometimes if you haven’t got the chance of changing the garment’s background colour.
  • A great tip is to make a clear/ lighter base with our CRAYONS, which will also help fixing the ageing sprays on to the fabric.
  • Try applying a coat of CLEAR or YELLOW OCHRE wax, then let dry in the air or fix with an iron and then spray the fabric with the colour desired. You will then be able to see dark brown or khaki for example on a black cloth.

Adhesion, How to Fix Sprays and Crayons to Fabrics?

  • As said above, adhesion depends mainly on the fabric, but you can also try and fix it with some products and procedures.
  • The dye in the spray will be absorbed into the material which cannot usually be removed (see instructions for WASHING below).
  • If sprayed lightly, Dirty Down will tend to rest on a surface as a dry powdery coating which can then be spread using a dry or wet cloth. Drying time is usually less than a minute.
  • Find out how many times the garment is going to be used and if it is going to require many washes, because then you will have different needs regarding fixing.
  • It is not the same if it is going to be worn just once for a photo shoot or an easy scene on TV or a movie than if it is going to have to survive a whole theatre tour or many scenes due to continuity – mainly because you will have to wash it and the original effect will change.
  • The resistance and intensity of colour will vary depending on the number and thickness of coats applied.
  • You should bear in mind as well that some colours (see COLOURS description) are more liquid than others, such as SOOT BLACK, due the amount of dye in them, so we do not recommend its use for final retouches or if you have a deadline and then drying time is very little for you.
  • Prepare the fabric before applying any products with a greasy- oily base like our CRAYONS, in matters of long lasting effects – and to help the colours blend in most cases.
  • A base of CLEAR or YELLOW OCHRE wax will create a coat between the fabric and the next layer of paint which will not only help you with adhesion, but will also add an amazing background colour for aged effects.
  • In order to fix the products, you can spray ironing starch on top of all this. Let dry in the air or speed the procedure with heat. A domestic iron or a hair dryer are a good thing to have near you.
  • Always protect the garment with baking paper or a clean piece of cotton cloth when ironing.
  • We have tried other fixatives such as varnish in spray, but this changes the flexibility of the fabric, making it more stiff and crispy.
  • It can be good though if you are looking for this particular effect, which actually is very good for ageing as the varnish alters the colour and makes it look as if had been worn out and washed several times.
  • Dirty down sprays are a dye and therefore hot water and classic fixatives such as vinegar or salt will help them stay on absorbent fabrics.
  • Try washing the garments in the washing machine or sink in very hot water with a handful of salt or plenty of vinegar- do not use any soap in this case.
  • This may wash out some of the colour, but it will definitely leave some marks that can be your guidelines for the next step in the ageing process or may as well be an ageing technique itself.

Can I wash a garment that has been aged with Dirty Down products?

  • Ageing sprays are water soluble but in many cases you will end up with marks in the fabric that may never wash of.
  • Read carefully the COLOURS section for particularities.
  • Always do tests first to avoid irreversible results and uncomfortable surprises.
  • Natural fabrics such as cotton may never go back to their original state.
  • Synthetic fabrics wash better as they are less absorbent, but discoloration can be caused sometimes by the dye, especially in white or off white fabric.
  • Permanent stains can be useful as a background for a second coating of sprays and crayons.
  • If you need to make a garment look less new even after ageing, try washing it with an aggressive washing product, such as bleach or vanish. This process will damage your work in a way but it will also add years of use to the piece of clothing.
  • For heavy staining, soak the stained area in Methylated Spirits, leave for a few moments, and then rub it. I find the best way of rubbing is to hold some of the stained fabric in each hand and rub your hands together with fabric in between. Do this a few times. Then wash by hand, rubbing detergent or washing up liquid into the stain. Take care if using Methylated Spirits and do not inhale the fumes, best use it outside.
  • For light staining, spray with “Vanish” and leave for a few minutes, following manufacturer’s instructions. Wash using a good quality powder.
  • If you have sprayed a little too much on fabric and the stain is too dark and you would like to make the stain fainter. Then take some Ageing Spray off by rubbing the stain with a cloth soaked with Methylated Spirits. Methylated Spirits smells, so you might need to wash the fabric after use. Don’t let any Methylated Spirits touch your skin, and do not inhale any fumes from the Methylated Spirits.
  • For Props, rub the stain using a cloth soaked in Methylated Spirits. If Methylated Spirits is to strong, dilute it with water, perhaps 1 part Methylated Spirits to 1 part water (or more), then rub on.


  • Leather can also be aged using our sprays.
  • Try darker colours on a light- coloured leather to make it look very old and used.
  • If the leather is too new and hard and you have the feeling it is not going to absorb the dyes, put it in the oven for up to 15 minutes.
  • Try to do it both dry and damp; even dipped a bowl of water, and you will see how the flexibility changes after some minutes.
  • Please watch the time because it can shrink- imagine it is like our skin and how heat and dehydration would affect it.