How to Tie Dye: Tips, Patterns, Techniques and DIY step-by-step [2022]

How to tie-dye - faverie

The tie-dying process is not at all something new. In fact, some of the earliest examples are from the 5th century in China. However, in the Western World, it didn’t become popular until the 1960s. 

Interestingly, tie-dying is something we’ve all done as kids in summer camps, birthday parties, or sleepovers, to name a few. But, as many adults, you probably do not remember how to tie dye properly.

Well, if you are among those who love DIY activities, tie-dying is for you. In this post, I’ll explain the whole process in detail, and I’ll help you all the way through. Doesn’t it sound exciting?

Let’s get started!

Introduction to tie-dye

In this chapter, I’ll deal with tie-dye fundamentals. Thus, I’ll start by providing an accurate definition of tie-dye. And then, I’ll talk about some common supplies you need during the process.

What is tie-dye?

Tie-dye, as the name implies, consists of tying and dying a piece of clothing. What you do in this process is fold the fabric or cloth into a pattern. And then you have to tie it with rubber bands or string. The last step is to apply dye only into some parts of the fabric.

Hand over tshirt paint

Interesting, isn’t it? Tie-dye is a resist dyeing method in which some areas are dyed while others remain undyed. It is precisely this what results in such beautiful patterns. 

Not to mention that it is a quite simple and cheap way to decorate your clothes. You can use some old clothes you want to transform or renew. The tie-dye process is characterized by the use of bright colors. Usually, saturated bright primary colors are preferred. 

Tie-dye is a method in which you dye textiles to generate patterns. Basically, what you do is tie some parts of the item of clothing together so that they don’t absorb the dye. This way, the dye only affects those parts that are exposed. 

The method of tie-dying was traditionally done by hand. Yet, these days, it has been adapted to machines. Thus, it’s up to you whether to do it one way or another. Not to mention that it’s so fun to decorate your clothes by tie-dying.

YouTube video
Tie-dye pattern P212 : Watermelon
by Chandye

When a piece of clothing or garment is tie-dyed, this means that it is tied in knots and then put into the dye. You can make different patterns depending on how you tie the knots. After that, you have to put the garment into the dyebath. Next, you let it dry. 

And when you untie the knots, there would be irregular circles, dots, or even stripes. What’s more, you can make patterns with different colors. All you have to do is repeat the processes of tying and dyeing. 

Common supplies

Now that you know what tie-dye is, I’d like to provide a complete list of supplies you may need. Before you get into the nitty-gritty details, you must know what materials are necessary.

Here is a list of the most common tie-dye supplies: 

Dye.

There exist cold water dyes and hot water dyes. The former are called like this because you mix them with cold water. Likewise, hot water dyes have to be used with warm water in the dyeing process. 

Bags dye street

I really like using powder dyes from Jacquard since you can find them in many colors. Although you can use as many colors as you like, I advise employing just three or four per item. 

Hot water dyes, like those of Rit, are available in liquid form. I really like this because it’s premixed. So you don’t need squeeze bottles with these ones. You can also find them in lots of colors. 

There are dyes from lots of brands like Dharma, Tulip, Jacquard, Rit, and more. You can get them from Amazon or in your nearest craft store or drugstore. Whether to buy them liquid or powder is up to you. 

Soda Ash. 

Soda ash is what makes the fabric or cloth soak up the dye better. It looks like white-chalk powder. What it does is to balance the water’s pH so that your pieces of clothing can absorb the dye better. In other words, it helps make the dye stay permanently in your tie-dyed clothes. 

Urea. 

Hand glove holding balls

Likewise, urea is an element that you add to the water and dye mix so that your colors end up being more vibrant. In other words, it’s something that helps your garments damp during the curing process.

Dyeables. 

There’s a lot more to tie-dye than old white t-shirts. You can tie-dye sweatshirts, socks, onesies, napkins, towels, tote bags, picnic blankets, curtains, and even scarves. What matters is what your dyeable is made up of.

White clothes on basket

Preferably, you should use 100% cotton items. Yet, at times, these can be a bit hard to find. Linen or silk can work too. As to the color, it’s better to use white garments. But, you can also tie-dye clothing that’s light gray or light pink. 

Squeeze bottles. 

Clear squeeze bottles are essential unless you use a kit with premixed bottles of color. Besides, squeeze bottles give you full control over the amount of dye you apply. It’s better if they are clear so that you can see the color of the dye.

Female hand hold bottle

What’s more, you can mix up the dye in these bottles. And, they are reusable and dishwasher safe. You’ll need one for each color you use. Once you’ve finished, don’t throw them away, you can reuse them in future projects. 

Buckets or a dyeing vessel. 

If you don’t want to use your sink to tie-dye, you’ll need to get some buckets or a dyeing vessel to tie-dye outdoors. What vessel you use is up to you. As long as it’s big enough to tie-dye your clothes.

Hands bucket dyeing vessel

Besides, if you use a plastic bucket or vessel, cleaning up is much easier. And, it’s a must-have for those who prefer to tie-dye outside. Once you’re done, you just have to pour and wash. And then keep it somewhere for the next time you feel like tie-dyeing. 

Water. 

It comes as no surprise that you need water to tie-dye. You’ll not only use it for the dye mix, but it would be necessary to wash your tie-dye clothes once they’re ready. And, finally, to clean up all the materials you used. So, make sure you have a water supply nearby. 

Rubber gloves. 

Dishwashing or latex gloves are mandatory to prevent the dye from getting onto your hands. You should also wear old clothes. An old t-shirt together with rubber gloves that go up to your elbows will help you prevent unwanted stains on your skin. 

Rubber bands.   

Rubber bands are of utmost importance. What’s more, you need thin and thick rubber bands to customize your patterns. After you place rubber bands on a garment, you should wet it before applying dye.

Rubber bands
Source: Michael Walter on Unsplash

Besides, rubber bands thickness does matter. You can use rubber bands to create unique and dynamic patterns. They’re used to mold the tie-dye piece of clothing into the shape that you want. I’ll explain how to create specific patterns later on in this post.

A color fixative.

A color fixative will help you ensure the colors stay as bright as when you applied them once you wash the garment. In other words, a color fixative is a must-have to preserve your colorful tie-dye work of art.

A color fixative also prevents your tie-dyed garment from bleeding and fading. You can either find them in liquid or spray form. What to use is up to you. Remember to use a color fixative right after the dyeing process. You can also use it before washing your tie-dyed clothes. 


Now that you know what tie-dye is and what supplies you need to carry out the process, it’s time we move on. In the next chapter, I’ll explain how to tie-dye step by step. Ready?

How to tie-dye

In this chapter, I’ll show you how to tie-dye. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s quite easy to carry out. All you have to do is follow the steps I’m about to explain below. No matter your age. This is an activity anyone can take part in. You can do it alone or with your kids.

Let’s have a look at it!

Here are the tie-dye steps you must follow: 

Preparation

There are several things you have to prepare: the workspace, the dye, and the garments you are going to use for tie-dye. As to the former, if you are going to tie-dye inside, you must do something to protect the table. Large trash bags or a plastic tablecloth will do. Yet, if you can, it’s advisable to work outside since it gives you more freedom.

As regards the garments, you must prewash them, especially if they are new. This will help you remove scratch or chemicals that can affect dye penetration. What’s more, it’s advisable to prewash your clothes even if they are old to get rid of any oils or dirt they may have. 

Besides, you have to prepare the dye mixture. This will differ depending on what type of dye you buy. Make sure you follow the instructions in the package. You’ll also have to gather the rest of the supplies like gloves, squeeze bottles, rubber bands, and more. Caution! Put on your gloves before preparing the dye mixture. Once the mix is ready, you can transfer it to the squeeze bottles.

Fold and tie your garment

There exist lots of ways to fold and tie your tie-dye garments. How to do it depends on the pattern you want to obtain. Some fold and tie methods are quite simple, while others can be somehow more elaborated. 

It is advisable to start simple. You can try complicated patterns as time goes by and you become an expert. Choose a tying method you feel comfortable with and tie up parts with rubber bands or string.

I’ll explain the different patterns available later on in chapter 3. 

Apply the dye

There are several ways to apply the dye to the fabric. You can immerse it into buckets of dye, or you can apply the dye with squeeze bottles or paintbrushes. The second option will provide you more precision. 

Hands hold cloth dye

Remember, you can adjust the intensity of the colors by adding more water to the dye mixture. Besides, it’s key you consider color placement since colors may bleed together at the border, and they’ll create new colors. 

Thus, you must learn about the color wheel. For example, if you place red and yellow together, they’ll create orange on the border. Some other color combinations might not be as desirable. So, you must consider color combinations before applying the dye to your garments. 

Let the dye set

Once you finish applying the dye, it’s detrimental that you allow it some time to set. It’s advisable to keep the fabric damp and warm. Thus, I advise you to place the garment you’ve tie-dyed in a plastic bag and leave it in a sunny spot.

Around 6 to 8 hours is enough, but I recommend you to leave it like that for up to 24 hours. This way, you’ll get brighter colors. If you do not want to use a plastic bag, you can wrap the dyed garment in plastic. What to use it’s up to you. 

Rinse and wash your garment

Not surprisingly, the washing-out process is of vital importance. I advise leaving the rubber bands on while you rinse the tie-dyed garment under cold running water. Afterward, you can remove the rubber bands and rinse the garment again until the water runs clear. 

Woman doing tie dye

Then, you can wash the tie-dyed garment in the washing machine. You shouldn’t wash items with different colors together. And, you should wash your tie-dyed clothes separately from the rest of your clothes, at least the first couple of times.  

Let it dry

The last step is to let it dry and iron the garment so that it looks perfect and clean. You can either let your tie-dyed clothes dry on the clothesline or use the clothes dryer. Yet, I prefer the air to do its thing unless it’s an emergency and I really need my clothes to dry fast.


That’s all for now. In this chapter, you’ve learned the tie-dye process step by step. Carry on reading! In the next chapter, I’ll cover the most beautiful tie-dye patterns so that you can impress others with your tie-dye pieces of clothing.

How to tie-dye with patterns

In this chapter, I’ll explain how to tie-dye using different patterns. Some are easy to implement, while others might be a bit more complicated. Still, once you learn how to do it, you’ll realize it’s not a big deal.

Let’s have a look at the different tie-dye patterns!

How to tie-dye techniques

There exist lots of different tie-dye techniques. Here are a few of my favorite tie-dye designs you can use to impress others and leave them speechless. 

How to tie-dye hearts

First of all, you have to lay your tie-dye garment out flat on a surface. Next, fold it vertically in half-length. Afterward, you need to draw half of a heart on one of the folded edges. Make sure you use a washable marker. 

Tie dye heart

Pick one end of the line you drew and start making small accordion pleats. You must fold the pleats all along the line you drew. Ensure you make your pleats deeper in the outside section and narrower on the inside to obtain a heart shape.

Once you finish folding in pleats, pick a rubber band thick enough to secure your work. Put the rubber band on the line itself. Yet, you can use more rubber bands on the outside and inside as desired. 

Make sure you’re wearing your gloves before applying the dye. You can apply as many colors as sections you created with your rubber bands or use just one color. Rotate the garment and apply dye on the sides and back. 

How to tie-dye spiral

 To begin with, you have to lay your tie-dye garment out flat onto the covered table. Next, locate the center and pinch the fabric at this point. Then, twist it into a swirl. As you twist, your garment will fold in on itself.

Two men hug
Source: Joshua Stitt on Unsplash

Keep twisting until the entire garment forms a spiral shape. Once you’ve finished, secure it with 3 or 4 rubber bands crisscrossing them over the center. Once you’re done and wearing the rubber gloves, apply a different color in each section you created with the rubber bands. Don’t forget to apply the same color pattern on the back. 

How to tie-dye mirror images

Mirror images are really cool. To male them, lay your garment out flat onto the table. Then, fold it in half. Next, pick a ruler and a washable marker and draw a line on a random section of your tie-dye garment.

Afterward, make sure the two pieces are together and fold your piece of clothing all along the line. Once you’re done, use a bit of string or a rubber band to secure the shape. You can repeat the process on other parts of your fabric so that you get more mirror images.

Another way to obtain mirror images is using marbles. For this option, you also have to fold the item of clothing in half. Then, you have to insert a marble to tie into a double layer of the tie-dye garment. The next step is to ensure the two pieces are together while you tie in the fabric. You also have to use rubber bands or a string as usual.

Whatever option you decide to try, you’ll have to apply the dye carefully. Make sure you repeat the dye pattern on the back so that you get a mirror image once you get to the part when you have to open up the garment. 

How to tie-dye stripes

Whether you want horizontal, vertical, or diagonal stripes, this technique is quite easy to apply. To make horizontal stripes, you have to lay the garment out flat on your covered work surface. 

Tie dye stripes

Then, start from the left sleeve and fold the tie-dye garment in accordion pleat form. You must alternate the folds back and forth. Then, you have to secure the garment either with a string or using rubber bands. 

You can place a rubber band every 1 or 2 inches. Last but not least, you’ll have to apply the dye in different sections, alternating them. You can use several colors or just one, as you prefer.

Likewise, to make diagonal stripes, you have to lay your garment on a table. Find the bottom-left corner and fold the fabric in accordion folds. As explained before, you have to alternate the folds back and forth. Next, you have to secure the tie-dye garment with rubber bands. And then, you can apply dye colors in alternating sections.

Finally, to make vertical stripes, you need to lay the piece of clothing out flat on your work surface. This time you have to start folding from the bottom hem. Similarly, make sure you alternate the folds back and forth. And then, place rubber bands as always to secure your pattern. To create horizontal stripes, apply the dye in alternating sections.  

How to tie-dye scrunch pattern

The scrunch pattern is one of the easiest to create! All you have to do is place your tie-dye garment on a flat surface. Then, you just need to scratch the fabric towards the center. You can either form a snake-like shape or a rounded one.

Tie dye scrunch pattern

Once you are ready, pick rubber bands and place them in several directions to secure your scrunched shape. Don’t be afraid to use as many as you need. You can either use several colors or just one to dye your clothes.

A confetti of colors looks awesome with this pattern! Make sure you apply dye on the entire outside of your garment. Try not to leave white spots! When you finish, allow the dye to set and place your tie-dye garment in a plastic bag.

How to tie-dye with marble wraps

You can use marbles to create awesome tie-dye patterns. Start by placing your tie-dye garment on the table. Then, choose various places to wrap marbles with rubber bands. Keep on binding marbles till you feel satisfied.

You can use marbles of different sizes if you wish. Make sure you leave enough space in between to allow the dye to penetrate into the fabric. Once you finish with the marbles, it’s time to apply some dye. You can use just one color or mix several colors. 

I advise you to employ squeeze bottles for more precision. When you’re done, you must cover the fabric with a plastic bag and allow enough time so that the dye can be set. 

How to tie-dye with ice

As always, you have to lay your tie-dye garment out flat on your work surface. Ice-dyeing is easier than traditional tie-dyeing. There is no folding of the garment, nor do you have to use squeeze bottles.

To tie-dye with ice, you have to place your tie-dye garment on a wire rack. Then, put ice cubes on top of the fabric. Next, you need to sprinkle some powdered dye over the ice. 

When the ice melts with the dye powder, it creates beautiful patterns. All you have to do is wait for the dye to set and then rinse and wash your garments.

How to tie-dye with food coloring

Tie-dye with food coloring is similar to traditional tie-dye. You can create the pattern you wish, from the basic spiral to a star. Once you’ve made up your mind about a design, you’ll have to fold and crumple your piece of clothing until it gets the shape you want.

Dye glass water
Source: Luke Schobert on Unsplash

Next, you have to secure your pattern with either rubber bands or string. The following step is to apply food coloring. To create the mixture, you need to mix 16 drops of food coloring with half a cup of water and then shake. I advise you to use squeeze bottles since it’s the best way to mix up food coloring dye.  

You’ll have to mix up a separate bottle for each color. Make sure you apply enough dye to saturate the fabric. Don’t forget to apply dye on both sides of the garment. You can copy the same pattern or change it. 

To get vibrant results, you should let the dye sit for about 24 hours. Make sure you rinse and wash your tie-dye garment in cold water since clothes dyed with food coloring are likely to fade over time. 

How to tie-dye mandala

For this tie-dye pattern, you’ll have to create multiple lines of symmetry. To make the tie-dye mandala design, lay the garment out on the table. Then, fold it in half lengthwise vertically. 

Tie dye mandala

Next, fold the garment again widthwise. Afterward, you’ll have to fold it again in a diagonal line. The next step is to repeat this diagonal folding. Now, your tie-dye garment will be folded into sixteenths. 

What remains left is to secure your piece of clothing with rubber bands and apply the dye as you wish. You can apply colors in whatever pattern you like. Once you’re done, make sure you place the tie-dye garment into a plastic bag. Wait for the dye to set, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye reverse

This technique is different from the others since you first have to remove color with your design and then apply the dye. To tie-dye reverse, you need a dark 100% cotton garment so that you can remove the color with the color changer.

Woman outdoor dress
Source: Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Crumple or fold your tie-dye garment as you wish and then secure it with rubber bands or string. Afterward, wearing gloves, apply the color changer to your piece of clothing, rotate the fabric as needed. 

Give it some time to set and when you’re happy with the result, remove the rubber bands and rinse and wash. Next, lay your tie-dye garment flat on your work covered surface. Then, you can apply the dye colors in the lightened sections.

After that, you’ll have to place your piece of clothing into a plastic bag as usual. Give it enough time to let the dye set. Finally, you just have to rinse and wash again. Make sure you follow the instructions.

How to tie-dye accordion

Lay your tie-dye garment out flat on the table. Next, create tight accordion pleats, fold back and forth across the entire piece of clothing. Then, use rubber bands or string to secure your pattern. Leave some spaces in between.

Afterward, apply colors. You can get creative while having fun. Make sure you rotate the piece of clothing and apply colors on the other side too. Once you’ve finished, place the garment into a plastic bag. And wait for the dye to set. When ready, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye diamond

To create a diamond tie-dye pattern, lay your tie-dye fabric on the table and fold it in half vertically. Afterward, fold in half horizontally. Next, use a washable marker to draw a line from the center of the left side. Then, start folding the fabric along the line you made with the marker. Make sure the line appears straight on the top of the pleats.

YouTube video
TIE DYE DIAMOND PATTERN SHIBORI FOLDING BEGINNER TUTORIAL| Onyx Art Studios
by Onyx Art Studios

Once you finish, use rubber bands to secure your work. After that, you’ll be ready to apply the chosen dye colors in between the rubber bands. Make sure you rotate the item and apply matching colors on the other side. 

When you’re done, it’s time to put the garment into a plastic bag and wait till the dye is set. What remains left is to rinse and wash separately from the rest of your clothes.

How to tie-dye shibori

Shibori is a Japanese technique. To begin with, lay your clothing item out flat on your working surface or table. Then, try to accordion fold the fabric from the bottom edge to the top in even folds. Next, accordion fold again in the other direction.

When you finish, pick rubber bands to secure your work. You’ll have to crisscross the rubber bands. Wearing plastic gloves, apply dye to all the exposed areas on both sides. Then, put your tie-dye garment into a sealable plastic bag. 

And wait for the dye to set. You can leave it for a couple of hours or overnight to ensure you get bright colors. When it’s ready, you only have to remove the rubber bands, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye rainbow

Wrapping up your garment in a rainbow shape is quite similar to folding a heart. What’s more, it’s even easier. You just have to lay your tie-dye garment out flat as usual. Next, fold it in half lengthwise.

Tie dye rainbow pattern

Then, pick a washable marker and draw a rainbow arch on the folded edge. Afterward, you’ll have to make small accordion pleats. Make sure you fold pleats all along the marked line. Thus, the marked line has to appear on the top of the folds. 

Once you’re done, secure it with rubber bands. After that, apply the dye in rainbow order and wait for the dye to set. Make sure you repeat the same pattern on both sides. Put the garment into a plastic bag and wait. Finally, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye spider

To make the tie-dye spider pattern, lay your item of clothing out flat on a surface and fold it in half. Then, pinch it somewhere and twist it until it ends up in a spiral form. Place enough rubber bands to create six wedge shapes. 

Not surprisingly, you’ll have to use a different color for each wedge shape. Make sure you apply matching colors on the other side for a more professional effect. Then, you’ll need to apply black dye to one side of the spiral covering the colors. 

After that, you must cover your work using a plastic bag. Let the dye set for at least 6-8 hours. It’s better if you leave it a bit more. And then, you’ll only have to rinse and wash. Do not wash your tie-dye garments with the rest of your clothes, at least for the first time. 

How to tie-dye folding

The folding tie-dye technique is super easy. You just have to fold your tie-dye garment into squares and then apply the dye colors as desired. First of all, you’ll have to lay your piece of clothing out flat on the table. 

Ginger woman back head
Source: Tyler McRobert

Next, fold the fabric in half. Then, repeat the process and fold again. Do it one more time until you get eight layered panels. Afterward, you need to apply dye to the folded edges. 

You can use one or several colors. Make sure you repeat the process on the other side. As explained before, the following steps are to place your garment into a plastic bag, wait for the dye to set, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye bullseye

To make a bullseye tie-dye pattern, lay the garment you want to dye on your working surface. Then, select a small section and pinch it. Next, you’ll have to pull upward, making a cone shape.

After that, you need to wrap a rubber band around it. You can start about an inch below the top of the cone. Use as many rubber bands as color sections you want to create. When you’re done, apply the dye to the different sections you created before. 

It’s better if you use alternating colors for a more dramatic effect. Once you finish, place the tie-dye garment into a plastic bag, wait for the dye to set, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye chevron

To make the tie-dye chevron pattern, fold your tie-dye garment in half lengthwise. Next, you have to fold the upward half in half vertically. Then, flip the garment over and repeat the process. Thus, fold on the other side of your fabric. 

Girl holding cloth tie dye

After that, pick a washable marker and draw several lines diagonally across your folded garment. Then, pick rubber bands and wrap them at each of the diagonal lines you drew before. 

It’s time to apply the dye. Apply your first color in each section. Use a second color to fill the remaining sections. If you want, you can even use a third color. Let the dye set, rinse and wash. 

How to tie-dye polka dots

To make the polka dots tie-dye pattern, lay the item of clothing out flat on your working surface. Then, pick dried beans or beads. You’ll also have to cut a plastic wrap into squares. 

Take a bead or dried bean and place it inside the item of clothing. Then, pinch a section and apply the square of plastic. Then put a rubber band to secure it. Repeat the process to make more polka dots. 

You can do the same on the backside if you want to have some more dots there. When you finish, apply dye all over the fabric, except for the knobs. As usual, place your garment on a plastic bag, give it some time so that the dye can set. When it’s ready, rinse and wash.

How to tie-dye sunburst

To make the sunburst tie-dye pattern, lay your tie-dye item on the table. Then, pinch a small section and pull it up to create a small pointed cone. Next, secure it with a rubber band or string. 

Woman holding yellow cloth

Repeat the process for as many sunbursts as you like. Afterward, apply dye to the cone tops. Then use a different color for the background. You can use more colors if you want. When you’re done, place the tie-dye garment on plastic wrap. 

Allow enough time for the dye to set. When it’s ready, rinse and wash, following the instructions of your tie-dye kit. 


These are my favorite tie-dye patterns. I hope you found some you’d like to try for your next project. There exist more patterns, such as the ombre technique, the unicorn technique, or the jack-o-lantern tie-dye technique, to name a few. Yet, the ones mentioned above are the most representative.

In the next chapter, I’ll explain how to wash your tie-dye garments. Carry on reading to ensure you know how to do it properly.

How to wash tie-dye items

In this chapter, I’ll focus on how to wash your tie-dye garments. I’ll explain how to wash them for the first time, and I’ll also provide some tips for future washing. 

How you wash your tie-dye garments is extremely important. If you wash a tie-dye piece of clothing incorrectly, it might fade away. 

It can be a bit messy until you learn how to do it properly. However, you must learn how to wash your tie-dye clothes if you want them to last for ages.

Washing for the first time

We strongly advise you to wait for 24 hours before washing your tie-dye garments. The longer you wait, the more time it has the dye to set. Make sure you keep your tie-dye fabric in the plastic bag till you start with the washing.

Handwashing clothes bucket

Use rubber gloves to protect your hands

It is more than advisable you wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and arms. Otherwise, you could get dye stains on your skin that can last for days. If this happens, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water. You can also mix baking soda and water to remove dye from your skin.

Rubber gloves yellow background

Rinse your tie-dye fabric under cold water.

As you may well already know by now, you must rinse your tie-dye clothes under cold water. This will help you remove the loose dye. Leave the rubber bands and rinse your item in cold water. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes. Rinse it under cold water till the water runs clear. 

Remove the rubber bands.

Once you’ve rinsed out the loose dye, you’ll be ready to remove the rubber bands or string you used to secure the pattern of your tie-dyed clothes. Use a pair of scissors to cut the rubber bands and gently unfold your tie-dye garment.

Rinse again under hot water.

Then, rinse your tie-dye fabric under hot water. Leave your garment under warm water until it runs clear. It usually takes less time than before. Yet, it can take as much as 20 minutes. 

Wash your item in the washing machine.

Woman using washing machine

After that, wash your tie-dye garment in the washing machine since it is more efficient than hand washing. And, you’ll save time and effort. Check any tags your piece of clothing may have and follow the instructions.

Wash it on its own or with other similarly colored tie-dye clothes.

Not surprisingly, it’s more than advisable you wash your tie-dye garment on its own for the first time. You can also wash your tie-dye garments with newly tie-dyed clothes with the same color scheme. Do not place other clothes on the washer since they can become stained with dye. 

Set the washer load to the smallest size.

It comes as no surprise that you should set the washer load to the smallest size. A small load fills up the drum for about a quarter of its capacity. This improves efficiency since you are not going to wash a lot of items. Besides, your tie-dye garments will have more space to tumble freely. 

Wash your item in cold water.

Tie-dye clothes need to be first washed in cold water. This matters since it’ll help you to rinse out the loose dye. Besides, it will help you to ensure your tie-dye clothing doesn’t lose too much color at once. 

Use synthrapol detergent for top-loading machines.

Woman bottle washing machine

Synthrapol is a special type of detergent that is used to rinse excess dyes from tie-dye clothes. However, you should only use it if your washing machine is top-loading.

Use regular detergent for front-loading machines.

As to front-loading machines, you must use your regular laundry detergent. You should use a high-quality one. Still, you may need to repeat this process a few times when using regular detergent. 

Wash your tie-dye fabric on warm or hot water for future washings.

We strongly advise you to keep on washing your tie-dye clothes separately for subsequent washings (at least two or three). Besides, you should carry on using the same type of detergent based on your machine type. Not to mention that you’ll need to wash your tie-dye clothes in warm or hot water to ensure you’ve removed the loose dye completely. 

Check the appropriate drying method.

Clothes dry air

Not all fabrics need the same washing and drying methods. In other words, some fabrics are more delicate than others. Thus, you should check the tag to ensure you’re not about to make any mistakes. When in doubt, it’s preferable to allow your tie-dye items to air dry. 

Future washing 

If you want to preserve your tie-dye garments’ quality and bright colors as time goes by, you must take care of them. It isn’t at all difficult. You just have to follow some common-sense steps. Let me outline them below: 

Wash your tie-dye garments with similarly colored items.

Not surprisingly, it’s better if you wash your tie-dye clothes with similarly colored items. Or, if you are worried that they can bleed, you can keep on washing them separately from the rest of your clothes. 

Turn tie-dye garments inside out before washing.

Before washing, you must turn your tie-dye clothing inside out. By washing your tie-dye garments inside-out, you’ll prevent dyes from bleeding. It also lessens the amount of fading on the outside of your tie-dye clothes. 

Wash your tie-dye garment on the gentle cycle.

It comes as no surprise that you must wash your tie-dye clothes on the gentle cycle. Besides, you shouldn’t wash your tie-dye clothes with heavy items, such as jeans or trainers. The friction could make your newly dyed clothes fade more easily. 

Use cold water.

Once the dye has been set, you must wash your tie-dye clothes in cold water. This helps to prevent dyes from bleeding. 

Use a high-quality detergent. 

Hand drop liquid washing machine
Source: The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

You must stay away from certain products like bleach or fabric softener. Besides, the quality of your laundry detergent does matter. You should use a product you trust. This is key to preserve vibrant colors in the long run. 

Don‘t leave your tie-dye garments on the washing machine.

You shouldn’t leave wet tie-dye garments in the washing machine for a long time since they can bleed. Once the cycle has been completed, you should remove your clothes from the machine. What’s more, if you don’t take your tie-dye garments out soon, they can even damage other clothes in the washer. 

Air dry if possible.

If possible, dry your tie-dye clothes indoors or in the shade. This will extend the life of your tie-dye clothes. Sunlight can make bright colors fade. It’s better to air dry your clothes. However, you can also dry them in the air dryer setting low heat. 

Tie dye clothes drying

Now you know how to wash your tie-dye clothes. Make sure you follow the instructions for specific materials. Watch out for the steps and tips above, and you’ll be proud of your tie-dye clothes. They’ll last for ages as if they were new.

History and origins of tie-dye

In this last chapter, I’ll share some details as regards tie-dye history and origins. Tie-dye is not something new. It dates back to ancient times. What’s more, it’s been present in lots of cultures. 

Let me outline the main details so that you can better understand where tie-dye comes all about.

Some of the earliest tie-dye examples were found in Peru, from 500 to 810 AD. These designs were quite simple. They included small circles and lines made of bright colors. 

Around 4000 BCE, we can find examples of tie-dye in India. They used a technique that’s known as “bandhani.” Interestingly, these garments were used in religious ceremonies such as funerals and weddings. It involves dyeing a cloth that was previously folded into small bindings to form a certain pattern. 

In Japan, there are tie-dye items that date as far back as 552 CE. They used a technique called “shibori.” It consists of binding and tying cloth before applying indigo dyes. It’s considered to be an evolution of an older Chinese tie-dyeing method. 

Another early tie-dye technique is the one of “ikat” from Indonesia. This tie-dye method involves wrapping before the cloth is woven. It’s applied to individual yarns. 

Colorful yarn hang
Source: Kayvan Mazhar on Unsplash

Besides, there exist tie-dye examples that come from Africa. This method involves binding some types of fabric before dying them. Then the tie-dye clothing is embroidered in traditional patterns.  

As to the western world, tie-dye became popular in the 1960s. There were popular rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian who helped to make tie-dye fashionable. Not to mention that tie-dye techniques were widely used by the hippies.

Woman holding lgtb flag
Source: Steven Weeks on Unsplash

Back then, tie-dye represented a rejection of the establishment. The hippies borrowed techniques from foreign cultures like African prints, Middle East kaftans, and Nehru jackets, to name a few.

Tie-dye became fashionable after Rit Dye was created in 1918. Rit dyes were not only affordable but also a cheap way to customize pieces of clothing and other garments. 

These days, tie-dye is also used. What’s more, it’s been widely practiced during the COVID-19 lockdown. There are lots of tutorials available on YouTube and Pinterest. 

Not to mention blog posts like this one that can help you step by step during the whole process. It seems tie-dye is not only a fad, but it has always been somehow present.

Conclusion

Tie-dye is a fantastic way to decorate your clothes and other items. It’s not only easy but also fun. You can do it alone or with children. It’s advisable to do it outdoors, especially in summer. Still, you can also carry it out in the kitchen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tie-dye post. I’ve covered from the basics to the most advanced techniques. Tie-dye can be extremely easy or a bit more complicated. You’ll be able to make sophisticated patterns as time goes by. There is no wrong tie-dye method or design. So, try to have fun and enjoy the process!

Now, I’d like to hear from you …

Have you got any questions about this post?

Is there anything important I forgot to mention to make vertical stripes?

What’s your favorite tie-dye pattern?

Leave a comment below to let us know!

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