We can name a bunch of the most satisfying things in the world – that sound of dry leaves when you step on them, untangling your earphones in one quick swoop, cracking open an egg perfectly, etc. And cutting the rubber bands off a freshly tie-dyed shirt and seeing the starbursts of color for the first time should be added to this list!
However, dyeing your shirt is just the beginning if you want to keep it attractive and vibrant. You’ll need to learn how to wash tie-dyed shirts to keep them colorful and eye-pleasing.
In this article I’ve provided all you need to know about tie-dyeing, including what tie-dyeing is, methods of washing a tie-dye, and how to wait wash out tie dye.
What is tie-dye?
Tie-dye is a method for drying natural fabrics that leads to fascinating, colorful patterns. The technique involves pleating, crumpling, or folding the fabric into various patterns, then tying it with rubber bands or strings, giving it its name.
You dip the fabric into dye vats to form the color patterns, then remove and rinse it. Tied parts of the material accept the dye unevenly amidst the folds, creating varied patterns in the final product.
What to know before washing a tie-dyed material
After tie-dyeing your garments, you need to stay away from the washing machine for about 24 hours. This will give the dye plenty of time to set on your clothes.
You’re also advised to wear gloves when it’s time to give your clothes their inaugural scrub. Then, give them a good rinse under running cold water to remove the excess dye.
You’ll see additional colors in the water during the first few washes. This is normal and isn’t going to harm your shirt’s design.
Methods of washing a tie-dye shirt
You can wash your tie-dyed shirt using several methods to keep it vibrant and colorful. However, regardless of the technique you use, make sure to clean the shirt by itself or with other freshly dyed shirts.
Here are the five most efficient methods of washing a tie-dye shirt:
Wash by hand
Washing your tie-dyed shirt by hand will take more time but keeps it in the best possible condition. Plus, this avoids wasting a lot of water and protects your other clothing.
Here is a step-by-step guide on washing tie-dyed shirts by hands:
- Add cool water and a tablespoon of gentle laundry detergent to a bucket or a washbasin. You may also use a sink or a bathtub, but that would mean many dye cleanups.
- With rubber gloves on, use your hands to swish around the soap to create foam
- Gently submerge the shirt into the water
- Leave the tie-dyed shirt soaked for about half an hour
- Remove the shirt from the washbasin and rinse it using cool running water. You may see some dye rinse away if it’s your first time washing the shirt.
- Don’t squeeze and twist the shirt, as that could damage or stretch the fabric
- After rinsing the tie-dyed shirt, gently press it between your hands to remove some water. Then use an old clean towel to remove more water
- Finally, air dry your shirt by hanging it.
Your tie-dyed shirt should look fresh and vibrant after air-drying it.
Using a washing machine
You can also wash your tie-dyed shirt using a washing machine. For the first few times, you may want to use hot water to clean the shirt to help remove the extra dye.
However, you should use cold water mostly to help the shirt maintain its vibrant and colorful appearance. Here is a step-by-step guide on washing your tie-dyed shirt using a washing machine.
- If it’s your first time washing the tie-dyed shirt, wash it separately to avoid dyeing other clothes. If you’ve washed it severally, you can mix it with other clothes.
- Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and cold water if you have that option
- Add the laundry color-safe detergent like Woolite Darks Laundry Detergent or the Laundress Darks Detergent.
- Promptly remove the shirt from the washing machine after the wash cycle ends.
- Air dry the shirt by hanging it. You can use a dryer for the freshly dyed shirt, but don’t try this with older shirts as they’ll fade.
Your tie-dyed shirt should look vibrant after drying it.
Applying vinegar solution during the first wash is one of the best ways to protect your tie-dyed shirt. You’ll need a bucket, vinegar, and water to clean your shirt.
Please note that vinegar only works well while washing cotton shirts. As discussed in the next section, if your shirt is polyester, you should use the synthrapol detergent.
This method is perfect when washing a freshly rinsed dyed shirt. Do not wash a tie-dye shirt in vinegar more than once!
Here is a step-by-step guide to washing your shirt in vinegar:
- Add cold water to a cheap plastic bowl or bucket
- Add two cups of white vinegar to the water
- Dip your shirt into the resulting solution
- Leave the shirt soaked for about half an hour
- Remove the shirt and place it in the washing machine. Add detergent to the machine and set it to delicate cycle and cold water
- Remove the shirt from the machine and air hang it to air dry
Since the vinegar smell is strong, you should clean your shirt outside. If applied right, this home remedy solution is going to leave your shirt looking sharp for years to come.
Synthrapol is a fabric cleaner that works best for polyester tie-dyed shirts. Like the vinegar wash, you should use this solution only once – immediately after tie-dyeing your shirt.
Here is a step-by-step guide on washing your shirt using the synthrapol solution:
- Leave your polyester shirt to air dry after dyeing and rinsing it
- Add water two-thirds full into a pot and heat it to around 140℉.
- Add about one tablespoon of synthrapol for every gallon of water in the pot
- Submerge the dry tie-dyed shirt in the solution
- Using an old wooden spoon or long stick, stir the shirt in the hot synthrapol solution for approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove the shirt and put it in your kitchen sink. Rinse it with warm water until all the dye washes away.
The shirt should be ready and look all colorful after drying it.
The Tulip tie-dye method
Tulip is among the popularly known dye producers on the market. And, yes, they also provide their clients with easy-to-comprehend instructions on washing tie-dyed shirts.
Here is the step-by-step guide on washing tie-dyed shirts, as recommended by Tulip:
- Leave the tie-dyed shirt wrapped in plastic wrap for about 8-12 hours.
- Rinse out the excess dye using running cold water. Don’t squeeze and twist the short; move it back and forth under the tap
- Wash the shirt separately severally before cleaning it with other clothes
- Keep the wet tie-dyed shirt away from others to prevent the transfer of dye to other clothes
Tulip tie-dye doesn’t work on polyester shirts. Use it when tie-dyeing cotton shirts only.
How to Wash out Tie Dye
It’s vital to rinse your garment after the die sets. It helps outline the edges of the design and prevents more dye from bleeding out.
With rubber gloves or old clothes tied on your hands, rinse your tie-dyed clothe as discussed below:
- Use tongs to hold a tie-dyed polyester shirt under hot running water in the kitchen sink. Control the water cooler gradually until it turns cool.
- Rinse the cotton tie-dyed clothes using cold running water. You can do this in the bathtub or the kitchen sink
Drying tie-dye shirts
Hanging a tie-dyed shirt to air dry is best to dry it. This prevents your shirt from fading over time and prevents the wet dye from bleeding onto other garments or surfaces.
Some experts also recommend drying the shirt in a dryer after washing it for the first time. This can help avoid dye bleeding.
However, check the instructions that come with the dye packet to ensure that your dryer is safe. Some brands recommend heating the tie-dyed material; others don’t.
Washing the dye off your hands
Whether you wash the tie-dyed clothes using gloves or bare hands, it’s possible to have splashes of color on your hands. Mix baking soda water and use the resulting solution to wash the color off your hands
The bottom line
Tie-dyeing is becoming a trend in the fashion industry. It leaves your garments looking vibrant and colorful.
Washing the tie-dyed clothes outlines the edges of the design and prevents more dye from bleeding out. It’s what leaves the clothe looking all fresh, vibrant, and attractive.
You can wash the tie-dyed clothes by hand-washing them, placing them in a washing machine, using vinegar or a synthrapol solution. Using cold water and air drying your clothing keeps its colors vivid and crisp for a long time.