Okay so I took the plunge and tried using my HE Washer. I used only a single yard of fabric since I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out.
After doing the initial dyeing in my buckets I used the cold water from the bathtub for the initial rinse. The water was still colored when I put the fabric into the washer with some synthropol and some detergent. I set it on hot and let it do it's thing. After it was finished just to be safe I ran it through with nothing but water, one more time.
it looks like it did a good job on the fabric, I've tested for running and the excess dye all seems to be gone. I am going to run the washer through now with a piece of white fabric to see if I have any excess dye, but it looks like it's fine.
So just as a disclaimer, I'm not recommending you do anything that is outside your comfort zone. I chose to try this (I have an LG frontloading washer). If you choose to it's at your own risk!
Just a note about HE washers. I checked the manual that came with mine and it offers a special code to "deep clean" the washing machine. I have used this "special only found in the manual method" to freshen up the machine after 4 years of constant use. It worked well. Not sure if it will work for freshly dyed fabric residue.
Well I turned the drum and heard no 'swishing', but I do know there is an area to drain water when you clean the filter. I called the manufacturer and they were not much help. They don't want me to do anything that is not in the manual.
I may try it with a small batch and then run the washer without anything in it after.
I have a high efficiency washer too and while I've read that some have tried it in this type of washer, I was told not to because each of these types of washers 'hold' a very small amount of water inside of the drum (even after the wash is done).
Try this and see if you hear the water -- After washing a load of clothes and emptying the washer, take your hand and spin the inside of the drum in a circle (like if it was on the spin cycle). Do you hear a slushing of water?
This is normal but wouldn't be good for the dyeing process or so I'm told. I don't want to take a chance on ruining my washer or future clothes so I haven't attempted it, but I sure would love to try dyeing of fabric.
I have been an avid dyer and happily spent many hours creating my own fabric. I had some health issues and had to take a break and in the interim my fiance and I purchased a new washer and dryer. It wasn't until I felt better and wanted to start dying again that I happened to think about a possible problem.
My washer is one of the 'low water' washers that use HE detergent. Previously I used the washer to rinse out the excess dye.
Has anyone here ever used the low water washers for their dying and if so do they work?