Tie-Dye Shirts: How To Care For Them Update 07/2022

Seeing the vibrant starbursts of color for the first time after breaking the rubber bands off a freshly tie-dyed garment is the best part! However, if you want to keep the vibrant tie-dye pattern you worked so hard to create, coloring your shirt is just the beginning. You’ll need to learn how to wash tie-dye shirts if you want to keep your designs looking their best.

You can avoid stains by washing tie-dye garments immediately after the dyeing process has finished. Tie-dye stays vibrant when washed with a dye setting agent like vinegar, synthrapol, or heat. Tie-dyed shirts can be washed in the washing machine or by hand as long as they are washed with other tie-dyed shirts of the same color.

You’ll discover seven different ways to set and wash your new tie-dye shirt in this post. How long should the dye sit before washing and whether or not your shirt can be put in the dyer will be answered here. Finally, you’ll learn how to clean a tie-dye shirt of stains!

How To Wash Tie Dye Shirts

How to Wash a Tie-Dye Shirt for the First Time

Because of this, you can wash a tie-dye garment for the first time and not risk destroying the design if you follow these guidelines: It’s also important to follow proper dyeing and shirt-fabric care instructions.

Tiedye kits commonly include water-soluble dyes that work best on cotton fabrics. As long as the polyester t-shirts are dyed with dispersion dyes and boiling water is used to set the color, you may also dye inexpensive polyester shirts. Using polyester would necessitate different dye-setting methods than using cotton!

Tie-dyed cotton t-shirts:

  1. You should keep the shirt in its plastic bag and rubber bands overnight so that the dye has time to set. It is only during this resting period that the water-soluble dye may fully penetrate the fibers of the fabric.
  2. Rinse the clothing in cold running water after that. Seeing the colour go away is a little unnerving. Don’t be alarmed; this vital step will prevent dye from smearing later on.
  3. A vinegar treatment can be added to the initial wash to make it even better. The washing procedures discussed later in this article have further information on this.
  4. Last but not least, you may simply throw the t-shirt into your washing machine and wash it in cold water on its own.

Using disperse dyes or acrylic paint to color polyester is the most important distinction when working with the material. Tie-dye kits that use water-soluble dye will not work with this.

The first time you wash a polyester tie-dyed shirt:

  1. In hot water, rinse the garment until the dye is completely removed from the shirt’s fabric.
  2. Soak the garment in synthrapol solution. Later in this essay, we’ll go into more detail about it!
  3. Finally, you want to wash the shirt by itself in your washing machine using cold water and allow the shirt to air dry.

Finally, you want to wash the shirt by itself in your washing machine using cold water and allow the shirt to air dry.

Finally, wash the garment by itself in your washing machine with cold water and air dry it.

How Long Do You Wait to Wash a Shirt After Tie-Dye?

How Long Do You Wait to Wash a Shirt After Tie Dye

Depending on the type of dye you use, the amount of time you need to wait before washing a tie-dyed shirt varies greatly For water-soluble colors, you must leave the shirt in an airtight plastic bag for at least eight hours or up to twenty-four hours. When using dispersion colors on polyester, the process is faster because the dye is applied by boiling water on the stove.

A tie-dyed cotton garment should not have to sit in a washing machine for so long. Cotton’s fibers are so thirsty for moisture that they quickly suck it in. The water-soluble pigment needs time to penetrate the fibers.

Polyester is a synthetic plastic that is impervious to moisture. This necessitates the use of a heat-adhesive dye that can be applied to the fabric. Tie-dyeing polyester is a little more time-consuming, but the dyeing takes done all at once on top of your stove, making the process move a lot faster!

How to Rinse Tie Dye Without It Running

This step is crucial, as running water washes away any colour that did not cling to the fabric throughout the dying process. For example, by using a stencil, you may define the edges of your design and prevent a lot of bleeding.

You should wear rubber gloves and old clothing during this procedure. Otherwise, you might end up with tie-dyed hands!

Rinsing a freshly coloured shirt can be done in a variety of ways.

  • To remove dye off a polyester shirt, place it in a sink full of hot, running water while using tongs. Using a faucet with a lower water temperature, gradually lower the temperature of the water until the shirt is comfortable to touch. After using boiling water to set the disperse color, you can safely handle the polyester shirt using this rinse procedure.
  • Cold running water can be used from the beginning to wash a cotton shirt. This can be done in a utility sink or your kitchen sink. Using a bathtub is definitely out of the question because the dye may stain the porcelain.
  • Using a garden hose, you may also spray the clothing on a sidewalk if the weather is fine. Using this approach, you may safely dispose of the excess colour without having to clean up any spills. If you need to wash ten or twelve shirts at once, this is a great option to use.

How to Wash Tie-Dye Shirts: 5 Methods with Washing Instructions

Washing Tie Dye Shirts

To keep your tie-dye garment looking vibrant, try one of several different washing procedures. If you used the same colors on all of your shirts, you should wash the tie-dye shirt in the same wash as the other freshly dyed shirts, regardless of the technique you employed.

The first three to five washes will always show some additional color bleeding, no matter how meticulously you follow the instructions below.

This won’t be a problem! It should not detract from the overall look. Extra dye that never completely “stuck” to the fabric has now been washed away, resulting in the color being washed away.

1. Wash By Hand

In order to maintain the finest possible condition of your tie-dyed shirts, you must wash them by hand. In addition, this eliminates the question of whether or not your tie-dyed garment will bleed into other clothing! It also saves water because you won’t have to run the washer for an entire load of freshly dyed shirts.

The following are the instructions for washing a tie-dyed garment by hand:

  1. A bucket or washbasin may be preferable over a sink or bathtub if you want to prevent a lot of dye cleanups. Either way, add a spoonful of mild laundry detergent to the water in your washing machine.
  2. Use your hands to create foamy suds while wearing rubber gloves.
  3. Do not scrub or wring out the tie-dyed clothing after it has been in the soapy water.
  4. Allow the clothing to soak for around 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the drenched garment from the basin and run cool water over it until there are no more soap bubbles. It’s perfectly fine if some of the color washes out of the shirt when you wash it for the first time!
  6. Wringing out the clothing will cause it to shrink. This could cause the fabric to stretch or be damaged.
  7. Remove excess water from the garment by pressing it between your palms once you’ve finished rinsing. Now fold up the towel with the shirt inside it and set it on top of a clean towel to finish drying. To get the best results, use an old towel.) The clothing may lose some of the dye.
  8. Allow the clothing to air dry completely before putting it away in its original location.

2. Washing Machine

If you need to wash your tie-dye shirt for the first time or fiftyth time, you can do so in the washing machine! Your clothing could need a few washes in hot water to get rid of the excess colour. To keep the shirt’s vibrant colors, wash it in cold water most of the time.

  1. Once your tie-dye garment has been washed several times, it is okay to wash it with your regular laundry. If you haven’t already, wash it in a separate load to avoid staining other items.
  2. Choose cold water and a mild cycle in your washing machine, if it has those settings.
  3. Laundry detergent can be added to the mix. Color-fast detergents may be necessary if you have recently colored a clothing. Older tie-dyed clothing can be washed with any old laundry detergent!
  4. The shirt should be taken out of the washing machine as soon as the cycle has finished. If you leave it in the wet, closed basin, the colors may bleed and smear your lovely tie-dye design.
  5. It’s time for the clothing to dry out. A freshly dyed shirt can be dried in the dryer, but older shirts can fade faster if they are exposed to high temperatures.

3. Vinegar

Applying a vinegar solution to your cotton tie-dyed tee before the first wash is an excellent technique to keep it looking new. Two cups of vinegar will keep your tie-dye looking new for years to come, and you probably already have a jug of vinegar in your house!

If you’re using a water-soluble dye in cotton, this procedure can help set it. Skip to the following section and use synthrapol if you’re dyeing polyester.

After rinsing the newly dyed clothing, employ this washing method right away. For a one-time colorfast procedure, you do not need to wash a tie-dye shirt in vinegar more than once.

  1. Put the t-shirt in a bucket or plastic bowl that is large enough to hold several Gallons of water and the bucket or bowl Make sure that this container is nearly full with cold water.
  2. Make sure the bucket is outside if you can. The vinegar will have a strong fragrance, so give it some time to sit.
  3. Add two cups of white vinegar to the mix.
  4. Your shirt should be lowered into this solution at this point.
  5. Allow the clothing to soak for around 30 minutes.
  6. Toss the damp clothing into the washing machine on its own, then hang it up to dry. Use cold water and a gentle cycle on the washing machine. Add a small amount of mild dishwashing liquid to the mix.
  7. Hang the clothing to dry when it’s done washing!

4. Synthrapol

You can use Synthrapol in order to speed up the process of dyeing. Cotton tees can benefit from this, but polyester tees benefit the most. After you’ve dyed a polyester tie-dye shirt once, you only need to use the synthrapol wash technique once.

  1. After you’ve dyed and rinsed your polyester shirt, let it air dry for a few minutes.
  2. You’ll also need to get a huge pot from a secondhand store. Use a saucepan that you won’t be using to cook food in!
  3. Using a measuring cup, measure out two-thirds of the water.
  4. Bring the water to a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. One teaspoon of synthrapol is needed for every gallon of water in the pot.
  6. When it’s time to cook, add the tie-dyed tee.
  7. Stir the shirt in boiling water and synthrapol for ten minutes with a long stick or an old wooden spoon.
  8. Finally, move the garment to your kitchen sink with a wooden spoon and rinse it until no dye or soap suds are visible.

5. Tulip Tie-Dye Method

In addition to selling popular tie-dye materials, Tulip also provides step-by-step instructions on how to color and wash your garment.

Using Tulip colours, Tulip suggests following this washing procedure:

  1. Plastic wrap the clothing for 8-12 hours before washing it.
  2. Using cold water, remove any remaining dye. Keep rinsing until the water is clear, and you’ll be finished. You don’t need to wring out the shirt; all you need to do is gently move it under the tap.
  3. Before adding it to another load of washing, run the clothing through the wash on its own several times.
  4. Make careful that the wet clothing does not come into contact with any other fabric, since this could cause the dye to spread!

Cotton shirts are a wonderful candidate for these processes. Shirts dyed with tulip dye will not take on the color of polyester. Synthetic material necessitates the use of dispersion dyes, such as Rit DyeMore.

How to Dry Tie Dye Shirts

How to Dry Tie Dye Shirts

You should hang your tie-dye clothing to dry naturally. The heat and friction in the dryer can damage and fade the fabric, so this helps keep it from fading over time. Wet dye can bleed onto other surfaces and clothing if you don’t hang up the shirt right away.

When washing a tie-dye shirt, some dyeing experts advocate using a dryer to remove any loose dyes. This can aid in the setting of some dyes and the prevention of subsequent color bleeding.

Is it worth the danger to use the dryer? Consult the dye packet’s directions for usage. In some cases, it’s recommended to heat the coloured material. Some people don’t understand this.

How to Keep Tie Dye From Bleeding

Dye-setting soaks and thorough rinses following the first dye application will help to prevent future bleeding. Regardless of how carefully you follow the instructions in this article, some dye will leak from the shirt the first few times you wash it.

Cotton shirts can benefit from a vinegar wash, whereas polyester shirts can benefit from a synthrapol wash. However, there is no perfect method!

Consider these suggestions for keeping your tie-dye design’s edges crisp:

  • Water should always be ice cold. A thousand times more likely to produce clothes bleeds in the laundry is hot water!
  • The first few times you wash the clothing, do so on its own. Freshly dyed clothes containing multiple hues of dye should never be washed together. Your design will be ruined if the colors spill over from one garment to the next.
  • Washing your shirt by hand is an option to consider. If you’re concerned about color seeping into the white patches on your tie-dyed garment, you may want to stick with this approach. When compared to the harshness of a washing machine, hand washing is kinder on your tie-dye garments.

How to Wash a Tie-Dye Shirt Without It Fading

Using cold water and a mild wash cycle is the best method for washing a tie-dye shirt without it fading. Handwashing your clothes is the kindest care you can give them, and it will keep them looking great for even longer if you have the time.

As a result, your tie-dye garment is safe to be washed in the washing machine. Avoid unnecessary fading by following these guidelines:

  1. Before putting the clothing in the washing machine, flip it inside out. In this method, the majority of the friction will be transferred to the inside of the shirt, where it won’t fade it.
  2. Always wash your clothing in cold water and hang it up to dry. Heat has the potential to accelerate the fading process.
  3. Tie-dye clothing should not be washed with chlorine. It will wreak havoc on your clothes and may even spread the color to other items!
  4. When washing a tie-dye shirt, avoid using fabric softeners as well.
  5. When drying your garment by air, it’s best to avoid hanging it up in direct sunshine. The colors may also begin to fade as a result of this.

Can You Wash Tie-Dye Shirts Together?

Tie-dye shirts can be washed together if they all use the same dye. If they don’t, you run the risk of getting color smudges on your tie-dye pattern and spoiling it.

However, once you’ve laundered your shirts individually three to five times, you can begin to mix them up. Hopefully, by now, all of the excess dye has been washed away. Your clothes should no longer bleed into each other.

It’s important to watch what you put in the washer when you’re washing a DIY-dyed garment. The blue dye from your jeans could end up damaging your shirt if you wear them. To be on the safe side, don’t mix a dyed shirt with dazzling white clothing, since the homemade dye may saturate the whites.

How to Wash a Store-Bought Tie Dye Shirt

If you bought a tie-dyed shirt from the store, you can wash it like any other item of clothing. Keeping these suggestions in mind, however, will ensure that the shirt retains its vibrant color for a long time!

  • Use just cold water. The fabric’s color will fade over time if it is repeatedly exposed to hot water. You’ll save money on your electric bill as well if you use cold water.
  • Find a place to air-dry your shirt in the same vein. You can hang it on your shower curtain rod, stretch it out on a sweater drying rack, or use a clothesline outdoors if you have one.
  • You should wash your shirt in a gentle or delicate cycle to avoid rubbing the fabric, which will cause the fibers to wear out faster.
  • Avoid washing your garment with anything very abrasive. Things like pants, jackets with zippers, or bulky hoodies will also put a lot of friction on the tie-dyed shirt during the wash cycle.
  • The garment can be washed in the dryer. Your clothes will last longer if you hang them up to dry, even if you don’t like it.

How to Get a Stain Out of a Tie-Dye Shirt

It’s possible that removing a stain from a tie-dye garment without ruining the colour will be difficult. Many commercial stain removers can remove dye as well as the stain, so you’ll want to avoid them!

Instead, try rinsing the shirt with cold water after it has been discolored. Gently stir this area with a small amount of dish detergent. Check to see if the stain has been removed by rinsing the soap away!

Add 14 cup dish soap and 12 cup ammonia to a bucket of hot water to remove the dye from a tie-dye shirt. Rinse the shirt in cold water after it has been soaking in the solution for an hour.

Baking soda can be used to remove colour off your hands at any stage during the process. Scrub your hands with a simple solution of baking soda and water.


Handwashing or putting them in the washing machine by itself is the best method for washing tie-dye shirts. When washed in cold water and air-dried, the shirt’s colors will remain vibrant and sharp for an extended period of time. Tie-dye designs are less likely to bleed if you use a colorfast dye-setting procedure.

This shirt will last a long time if you wash it in cold water and avoid using the dryer, so do so! If you want to be extra delicate with the tee, you can wash it by hand.

Is this your first time dyeing a shirt? Do you know what type of dye you used? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

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