Everything You Need to Know for Tie-Dyeing at Home

Bored on a summer day? Looking to refresh your wardrobe in a cheap way? Tie dye is the answer! With just a few simple supplies, you can spend an afternoon creating something unique and beautiful.


  • Fabric items such as clothing, socks, tote bags, or pillowcases (natural fibers like cotton or linen work well)
  • Rubber bands
  • Squirt bottles or 5-gallon buckets (one bucket per color)
  • Fabric dye (Rit is popular and easy to find at craft stores)
  • Gloves 
  • Plastic bags


  • Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting messy.
  • Work outside or cover your work area with newspaper, tarps, etc.
  • Wear latex gloves to avoid dyeing your hands.
  • Keeps some rags or paper towels nearby.
  • If you want your colors to be lighter or more pastel, add a bit more water when mixing the dye. If you are using the bucket method, the longer you hold your item in the dye, the darker the color will be.


  1. Prewash your clothing or fabric items. This will clear away oils and dirt which will resist the dye.
  2. Pinch, fold, or roll your fabric. Check out Sarah Maker's blog for unique folding techniques to try. 
  3. Twist rubber bands tightly around different parts of the fabric. The rubber bands will leave white marks behind. Try different patterns with different pieces of clothing or other items you are dyeing. 
  4. Mix the dye. Follow the instructions for your dye. You may need to mix powdered dye with water, or add water to liquid dye. Add the mixed dye to squirt bottles. You can also mix the dye by pouring one bottle into a bucket and adding water based on the measurement listed on the bottle. This will allow you to dip your fabrics into the dye, rather than spraying them.
  5. Squirt the dye onto your fabric. Get creative with your colors and placement. Remember that if two colors seep into each other, they will create a third color. 
  6. Let the dye set. Place your dyed fabric into a plastic bag and let it sit in a sunny spot outside. Let your item set for 24 hours prior to washing.
  7. Rinse and wash. Before washing in the washing machine, leave the rubber bands on and thoroughly rinse your items in cool water. Once the water starts running almost clear, you’re done rinsing. Remove the rubber bands and wash on cold in your washing machine without any other items. It is recommended to do an empty load afterwards to make sure you completely wash the dye out of your machine. Ta-da! Your tie dye creations are complete.

Learn more information about tie-dyeing and techniques from Rit Dye and this blog from Sarah Stearns.