[Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

[Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Original reddit post here.

Hello! I'm htig, and I run a shop on Etsy selling gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables. I'd like to share everything I've learned so far with dyeing mechanical keyboard cables. I did attempt to make a video, but without a tripod, it was very difficult and the result was not satisfactory. In lieu of a video (for now!), I'll share this long post instead.

Why am I sharing this information? I've learned a lot from the internet and especially reddit, so I'd like to pay it forward by sharing everything I've learned. I think sharing information is extremely important, and I believe that it will actually help my business rather than hurt it. Cable-makers, most with other full-time jobs and careers, work really hard to create elegant and beautiful products, so learning about what we do behind the scenes can only help people appreciate our products more. Both creative adventures and DIY are things that I really enjoy, so I'd like to share that joy with other people. Even if only one person is interested, I think this guide will be worth it.

Why should we dye cables?

Dyeing cables adds more variations to the aesthetics of mechanical keyboard cables. In the photo below, I dyed lengths of paracord with an identical gradient, then covered them with different sleevings: clear, dyed clear, dyed white, and white. IMO, dyeing sleevings produces different results that are worthy of being finished products. I think gradient dyes work best with coiled cables.


r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Four lengths of cable with identical gradients with different top sleevings: top, clear; second from top, dyed clear; third from top, dyed white; and at the bottom, white.

How to use this guide

The sections Important Materials and Basic Process is everything you need to know to dye your first gradient cable. The sections following will be more technical and will explain things I've learned about Rit DyeMore and gradient cables.

Important Materials

  1. Synthetic dye - Paracord is usually made of out nylon or polyester. Both can be dyed with synthetic dye, though I've read that you can dye nylon with all-purpose and other dyes. However, PET sleevings, like Techflex, need synthetic dye. I've yet to try dyeing other sleevings, like MDPC-X.

  2. Stainless steel pot - I've read that it's recommended to use either a glass or stainless steel pot when dyeing with Rit DyeMore, something about the aluminum or non-stick coatings reacting with the dye. I've only used Rit DyeMore in a stainless steel pot and can't speak for any other methods. Quality stainless steel pots can be expensive, and you cannot use the pot for food ever again, so be careful with the pot you choose. Cheap stainless steel pots that will burn food at the bottom will probably also melt your cable if your cable is left in contact with the bottom of your pot. I got a high quality stainless steel pot for $6 at a local thrift store, so I'd try my luck there if I were you.

  3. A weighing scale that goes down to the gram. It's basically necessary to be able to get a weight ratio of .4% dye to water. Try 4g dye to 1L water or 8g to 2L. I have not tried scaling up beyond this. Controlling the quality of the gradient was difficult in large batches and with multiple cables. So, I do one at a time.

Basic Process

  1. Sleeve your cables as normal.

  2. Follow all the instructions for use and safety on your dye product. Boil water in a clean stainless steel pot. When the water starts to boil, add dish soap -just a bit to get some bubbles (half a teaspoon maybe), then add your dye for synthetics -a weight ratio of .4% dye to water is a good place to start. Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to just below boiling and keep the heat on.

  3. Submerge sections of your cable that you want to dye, in decreasing intervals, starting with the darkest part of your gradient: for example, 4 inches for 6min, then the next 4 inches at 5min, etc, until you're down to 1 minute, then just dipping the cable 2-3 times); Keep the dye bath moving by moving your cables. the longer it is in the dye bath, the more saturated the color will be. It will help to map out the sections in your head before you start dyeing.

  4. Rinse your cable, and let dry at least half a day, the longer the better.

Important tips: Follow all the instructions for use and safety on your dye product! Do not get the ends of your cable wet, and do not let your cable sit at the bottom of your pot. Move the cable or dye bath often -constant agitation, and do not leave your stove. Monitor the temperature at all times. Let your cable dry -do not attempt to coil your cable immediately. The amount of water in your sleevings will make cables difficult to handle.

Disclaimer: Dyeing paracord or PET sleevings may change the quality and reliability of your sleeving. (I don't know for sure.) Dyeing is for aesthetic purposes only, and I wouldn't recommend using your paracord or sleevings for anything beyond just looking at it.

This is everything you need to know to get started! Please read on if you're curious about my failures and successes.

Small note on dyeing cables and sleeving

Dye your cables with the sleeving on. Dyeing sleevings will change their size, making it difficult to sleeve and match the gradient properly. Once dyed, it will also be very difficult to move the sleevings at all. It may be tempting to think of using a "dyeing cable" that you don't mind submerging and won't ever use, but I think it ends up taking more time -it is very difficult to remove and re-sleeve. It ended up being easier just to be very careful not to submerge any part of the cable ends. An idea that does work is to leave an extra couple inches of cable at each end to ensure the ends are never submerged, then cutting off the extra cable after.

Other dye bath conditions: temperature, storage, cleanliness, constant agitation

  • Temperature: Temperature of your dye bath must be consistently below boiling. Anything less or any fluctuations will result in unpredictable or unsaturated colors.

  • Storage: In my experience, dye baths sitting out overnight or those that have been heated for more than an hour will also result in unpredictable or unsaturated colors.

The cable below was dyed in a dyebath that was used once, then left overnight. I attempted dye it twice after, with increased dye concentration, but the dye didn't take. I learned you have to get it right on the first try.

r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

A failed dyed cable.


  • Cleanliness: Your pot or whatever you use to hold your dye bath must be washed between every use. I use soap and hot water, boil that, then rinse.

  • Constant agitation: The dye bath needs to keep moving over your cable to get a consistent color. Not doing so will result in an uneven gradient, with some sections much lighter than they should be.

Dye Concentration and time

How sensitive is color to dye concentration? - Very sensitive.

Compared to dyeing clothes, the surface area of cables is much smaller, and therefore, you do not need a lot of dye. However, the colors produced are very sensitive to dye concentration. I've used weight ratios of dye to water from .2% to .8% with huge differences in results.


r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Sapphire Blue cables at different dye concentrations, but the same time intervals. At the top, "vivid"; middle, "regular"; and bottom, "light".


r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Coils dyed with Tropical Teal with a high concentration "vivid" and a relatively lower concentration "regular".

How sensitive is color to time? - Depends on concentration.

With small concentrations, the time intervals to produce gradients are manageable. Over the course of 30 minutes, I'll move sections in and out of the water with time periods of 4-6 minutes. More time in the dye bath results in a more saturated color.

Can I trade off time with dye concentration? - Yes, but not recommended.

Yes, you can, but I do not recommend it. Controlling color becomes extremely difficult at higher concentrations. At dye concentrations of 1.2% and 1.6%, cables came out at the most saturated color at any time above a minute. Meaning, to get a gradient, intervals are to the second while maintaining regular agitation and reducing splashes. For reference, the last 2-4 coils before white (coils 3-7) are dyed within 2 minutes.

This cable was dyed at a high concentration in a unwashed pot. It was meant to be a one-way dye, dark to light across the coil. I had a lot of failures in this process before getting to a consistent, reproducible product.


r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Another failed gradient dye.


Rit Dyemore - $6 at my local craft store; Stainless steel pot - $6; Kitchen scale - $10, for a total of $22 to start out. The biggest cost is time and mistakes. It takes about an hour and a half to set up, dye, clean, and prepare for another cable. Mistakes are also costly: after dyeing a set of sleevings, you cannot dye them again or fix them. I also wouldn't recommend using a cable whose ends got submerged and may have water inside.

The End + Fun Stuff

There are so many possible colors of cables.

r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

11 cables with single dye formulas.

Combining dyes is worth it. Potentially all shades of Rit DyeMore formulas are possible with cables. May be a bit optimistic, but it still is a lot of colors.


r/MechanicalKeyboards - [Guide] Everything I've learned so far about gradient dyed mechanical keyboard cables

Comparing single dye formulas and combination dye formulas. The top cable is dyed with one color, Apricot Orange. The second cable from the top is dyed with three colors, Racing Red, Daffodil Yellow, and Apricot Orange. The third cable from the top is dyed with two colors, Daffodil Yellow and Apricot Orange. The cable at the bottom is dyed with one color, Daffodil Yellow.

Future Work

  • Dyeing MDPC-X

  • Multi-color gradients

  • More color-matching

Closing notes: Thank you for taking the time out to read this guide! I hope that it was helpful, and I'll also be happy to answer any questions. I'm glad to report that I've gotten to a point where all my cables are reproducible and consistent. I'm hoping to make more guides and cables for you guys!

Author note: This post was edited from the original reddit post to correct grammar mistakes.

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