9 Secrets to Successfully Tie-Dyeing your Clothing | FASHION DIY



While we are all at home more, there has been a big revival in transforming unused clothing, creating unique garments and brightening up our lives with some colour. Tie-dyeing is one of the Fashion DIY trends that all age groups are enjoying and it's bringing out the inner Hippy in all of us.

Here I will share some proven tips and some little secrets on how you can successfully get great results with little experience when dyeing fabric.

9 Secrets to Dyeing at Home

1| Wet your fabric

If you fully wet your fabric before dyeing, the dye will absorb and spread through the fabric more. You do not have to wet the fabric, just remember though, some fabrics are harder to absorb dye so it all depends on how you would like the end result to be. 

For a more vibrant result, wet the fabric before dyeing

2| Use dye within a day of mixing

Most fabric dye you buy needs to be mixed. The longer the dye has been mixed for, the less concentrated it will become. This will result in less vibrant colours and longer dyeing times. After a day this normally happens, so only mix as much dye as you need for a project. 

Fabric dye can be expensive, there is no reason to waste it on mixing it all at once.

3| Pre-wash the garment

Always, always, always prewash 😊 I know, who can be bothered right? It really is worth the effort.
Pre-washing clothing will do a few things,  
  1. It will prevent fibres from shrinking when you rinse the dye out with warm or hot water. Which means no shrinking on your freshly Tie-Dyed garment.
  2. It will wash away any chemicals that are left in the fabric from production, which can prevent dye from sticking or absorbing. 
Do not use too much laundry detergent, this is not needed. A little will go a long way when pre-washing.

4| Use salt when dyeing dark colours

Salt is the secret kitchen ingredient that everyone has in their cupboard. Adding everyday salt can do 3 things when dyeing clothing. 
  1. It will stop dye bleeding and will create a more even colour tone all over the fabric. 
  2. Salt also helps absorb the dye into the fabric, even when you are using natural fibres. 
  3. If you add salt to your wash after you have rinsed your dye out, it will help set the dye and reduce colour fading in the future. I recommend you do this when Tie-Dyeing as the above 2 methods are used when submerging fabrics into a body of water for a full dyeing process.
It's recommended to only use non-iodised salt, so check your salt before use.

5| Boil water 

Some fabric dyes require you to submerge your fabric in a boiling pot of water. This is the only way my sister dyes fabric, she swears by it and has amazing results. But with tie-dyeing, you can not submerge for hours boiling the fabric in a pot as the ink would bleed through all of the fabric and no patterns would be left. So if the dye instructions ask you to boil, still boil the dye and mix it in a pot and while the mix is hot, pour onto your fabric using a gravy jug or something that can take hot liquids. Do not use a plastic jug in case it melts or your best teapot as it may stain. Always be extra careful when handling hot liquids. You can also pour when the water has cooled down and warm but results may be less consistent.

This is not the recommended way to tie-dye but it still can have great results if you are willing to experiment. This method is not recommended for children.

6| Use Natural Dyes

There are so many things you may have around the house already that you can use as a natural dye. You will be amazed at what products are in your kitchen or garden you can experiment with.

I have used hundreds of teabags to dye in the past as it is my favourite natural product to use. You can see HERE how I used tea bags to dye white clothing to create the Walking Dead for a street parade. This was done in bulk and had wonderful results on all types of fabrics.

Vegetables & Fruit that can be used for natural fabric dyeing are 
  • Beetroot
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Spinach
  • Citrus fruit
  • Cabbage
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Onions
  • Carrots
Lots of flowers and plants can also be used, if a flower has a strong colour, the odds are it will produce a dye. Leaves & most seeds can also create some beautiful coloured dyes. 

This is a great way to use your food scrap waste for good and help the environment on the way.
7| Experiment

One of the best things when tie-dyeing is that you will never know what the end result will be. This makes it the perfect fashion craft to have fun with, try out different colours, and patterns and get crazy!

This is the time to start trying out that psychedelic pattern you have seen on Tik Tok or the ombre tie-dye you saw a cool person at the local shops wearing. I have seen some great effects over the top of vintage 90's t-shirt prints, that is what I will be trying next.

8| Heat your fabric up

Heating up your clothing or fabric after tie-dyeing is your best friend. This will set the colour and reduce the colour fading in the future.

Some people like to iron their garments to set which works wonderfully. But if you are lazy, then throw it in the dryer for a little while on low heat. Just remember not to put fabrics like wool that may shrink in the dryer, check your labels.

9| Use Natural Fabrics

Fabrics are the most important fact when Dyeing. If you use any fabric that is not a natural fibre, the dye will not stick or hold, no matter what you do or how long you leave it on for. This also is the case when using Bleach to take colour away from fabrics. You may get a slight hint of colour but you will never get a vibrant result with a non-natural fabric. 

Examples of fabric that will not be vibrant when dyed are Synthetic, Nylon & Polyester. Fabric Blends like a T-shirt which is 70% Cotton and 30% Polyester will accept colour but will be lighter. You may need to experiment with fabric blends to find the result you desire.

Fabrics that get great results when dyeing are
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Linen
  • Silk


Lot's of major brands are using traditional tie-dyeing techniques in their latest collections this season, so why not create your own versions with an old t-shirt. This is a great way to revamp a favourite old tee and a way to test out some Tie Dye patterns without ruining a $50 new item of clothing

Learn how to Tie-Dye your clothing

DIY Supplies
  • A piece of clothing (t-shirt, track top, shirt, jogging pants, hoodie etc)
  • Elastic rubber bands
  • Fabric dye or a Natural Dye Product
  • Spray bottle or squeeze bottle

You can find 5 Techniques on how to get different patterns and use your rubber bands HERE 

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Twist, fold, squish, scrunch, roll or mould your fabric any way you can imagine creating a pattern
  2. Place your rubber bands around the fabric tightly
  3. Next either drip the dye from a bottle onto the fabric that is over an old tub or bowl. Fabric dye instructions on how to mix the dye and any other fabrics like boiling in a pot etc.
  4. Let the clothing sit for an hour to a day, read your instructions or wing it. Take all the rubber bands off and rinse. You can then wash, dry, set and wear it!

To find out how to bleach your clothing for a reverse dye effect, learn HERE 

TIP - Always wear gloves and old clothing when working with dye. Do not dye in an environment where you would not want the dye to splatter, stay away from your new white laundry 😉

Which piece of clothing would you like to Tie-Dye? 
Let me know below in the comments 

Stay safe & smiling

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