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Safe Washing Guide for Tie Dye Clothing

March 23, 2023

Tie dye clothing is made with special dyes that are fiber-reactive, meaning that they react with fabric molecules.

More specifically, the fiber reactive dyes will bond with the material (e.g. cotton fabric, rayon, and linen works best) and becomes a part of the garment.

The result is permanent; the colors will not fade even with multiple washings.

How to Tie Dye Your Own Shirt

how to tie dye clothingOne of the best things about tie-dye shirts is that you can easily make them at home. You just need two things – a tie-dye kit and a white t-shirt, the former of which you can probably find at a craft store.

Aside from that, everything else you need you probably already have at home (e.g. apron, protective gloves, ziplock bags, etc).

To make a tie dye shirt, all you have to do is apply the dye to the shirt.

There are various techniques that you can use to add different patterns, and don’t hesitate to play around with more than one color. If anything, it’ll give your shirt a more vibrant look.

Once you’re finished dying, seal the shirt in a ziplock bag and let it sit overnight. Your tie dye shirt will be ready in the morning.

Keeping Your Tie-Dye Items Clean

Tie-dyed items may be bright and colorful, but at the end of the day, they’re still clothing, meaning that they will get dirty and smelly.

This is especially true if you leave them in a pile on the floor.

Not only that but your tie dyed garment can also become stained and the longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to remove.

How to Wash Tie-Dye Shirts For the First Time

how to wash tie dye shirts first time

Can you wash tie-dye clothing like normal clothing? How can you prevent the dyes from fading? Are there certain products that you want to avoid?

These are some of the things that we’ll be addressing below.

Are Tie-Dyed Garments Machine Washable?

Generally speaking, you can treat your tie-dye shirt like any other shirt and put it in the washer.

Unless you’re washing it with other tie-dyed items, however, it’s best to wash them separately – that way, you won’t have to worry about the transfer of colors.

The first thing that you want to do is to rinse the shirt with cold water.

So don’t start the wash cycle right away.

Rather, you want to fill the washer with cold water. That will allow you to rinse out any loose dye that might be on the fabric, which will prevent it from loosing too much color at once.

Once you’ve rinsed all the excess dye off the shirt, you’re ready to wash it.

tie dye washing instructionsFor the best results, place the tie dye shirt in a mesh laundry bag – that will prevent it from being damaged in the machine.

If you don’t have a mesh bag, you can improvise with a clean pillowcase; just tie off the end with some rubber bands.

Place the shirt in the washer and select a delicate setting. Next, add the detergent.

For the best results, you want to use a synthrapol detergent – it’s a special type of chemical that’s effective at rinsing excess dyes. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.

And skip the fabric softener and other chemicals – it can lead to a dye reaction, which can cause the colors to run.

Check to see if your shirts look clean after the final rinse cycle. Ideally, the water should be clear – that means that it’s done washing.

Drying Your Tie Dyed Items After Machine Washing

If the water looks muddy, you might want to run a second gentle cycle (it’s not uncommon for new tie-dye shirts to require more than one wash).

Finally, you want to air dry the shirt. Assuming that it’s made from cotton, it’s best not to put it in the dryer – the heat can cause the material to shrink.

When in doubt, check the care tag label for drying instructions.

Hand Washing Tie Dye Shirts Properly

how to hand wash tie dye clothingFirst things first, rinse the tie dye shirt with cold water. For example, you can place it under the faucet in the sink. The goal is to rinse out all of the excess dye; you can tell when you’re done by the color of the water (you want it to turn clear).

Once you’ve rinsed out the tie dye shirt, fill a basin or tub with warm water; the heat will help set the remaining dye so that it will not transfer to other items.

Add a small amount of laundry detergent and mix to create soap suds. Place your tie-dyed shirt into the basin and let it soak for at least 15 minutes (longer if necessary). Wear rubber gloves, if necessary.

Wash the tyie dye shirt gently with your hand afterward. Avoid rubbing the material as that can cause the tie dye colors to run.

Next, soak the tie dye t-shirt again. For the best results, refill the basin with clean water. Once you’ve done that, rinse the shirt with cold water.

Do not twist or wring the shirt as that can harm the fabric.

Drying Your Tie Dyed Item

Set the shirt onto a flat surface. Consider covering the area with a piece of plastic wrap or a plastic bag to prevent stains.

Blot the tie dye shirt gently with a towel to remove some of the excess water before allowing it to dry naturally in a well-ventilated room.

Best Way to Remove Stains From a Tie-Dye Shirt

Stains should be treated as soon as possible. Unlike regular shirts, however, you want to be careful about the type of spot remover that you use; the wrong product can easily remove the stain together with the dye.

To be safe, it’s best to use regular laundry detergent as a spot treatment. To do this, mix a bowl of warm water with a little bit of detergent (we recommend using ACTIVE Detergent).

Using a soft-bristled brush, apply the solution to the stain. Make sure to saturate the entire area.

Once you’ve done that, leave it alone for 20 minutes; that will allow the detergent to lift the stain.

Rinse the shirt with cold or cool water afterward.

Check to see if the stain is removed. If it isn’t, repeat the steps again. If it’s gone, you can wash the tie dye shirt as normal.

Tips For Setting Tie-Dye on Clothing

Here are a few tips on how to set your tie dye shirt properly.

Use White Vinegar

how to set tie dye on clothingFill a sink or a bucket with cool water. Add 1-2 cups of white vinegar, depending on the size of your tie dyed items.

Swish the water with your hands until it’s thoroughly mixed and place the tie dye items in.

Leave them in the sink and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes—the longer the better. Rinse with water afterward.

Using Table Salt and Vinegar

Vinegar can also be used with salt. Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar into a sink or bucket.

Add a generous amount of table salt and mix everything with cool water.

Submerge your tie-dye items and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes, making sure that the fabric is completely immersed. Wash the garment as normal afterwards.

How to Wash Tie Dye Items – FAQs

What do I need for a tie dye project?

You’ll need tie dye kits, which you can find at most craft stores. You’ll also need a white t-shirt for the project. You can also use soda ash if you want to brighten the shirt.

Should you wash tie dyed items with hot or cold water?

It’s best to wash tie dyed shirts with cold water. Hot water can cause the colors to fade quickly.

What’s the best way to remove excess dye from a shirt?

The best way to remove excess dye is by rinsing the item with cold water.

Can you wash tie dyed shirts with other clothing?

No, it’s best to wash tie dyed garments by themselves in the washer as there’s always a chance the dyes can run and transfer onto your other clothes.

This is especially true for the first few washes as there may still be excess dye on the fabric.

Remember, the most important thing is to rinse the garment before washing, especially if it’s freshly dyed. That’ll help prevent the excess dye from running.

It’s also important to wash them seperately from your other clothes as you don’t want the colors to transfer onto other items.

Add in a mesh laundry bag and your tie dye item will look as good as new for years to come!

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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