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How to Wash Tie Dyed Clothes the Right Way!

Tie dying your t-shirts and other clothes can be a lot of fun, but you might worry about how to wash them. What is all the dye bleeds out? Is there a proper way to wash these newly dyed tie-dye clothes so they don’t lose their beauty?

You are in the right place! Here is the proper way to tie dye your clothes, set the color, wash it in the washing machine, and treat stains to your tie dye wears.

Tips for How to Tie Dye

There are many ways to tie up your t-shirt or other clothes to make a cool design. Some people like to wrap up their shirts and band them together in a circle. 

Others like to twist them into several sections and then tie dye them that way. There are several different options and it is up to you what you choose!

Once you have tied up your item in the way that you prefer, then you get to dye it. There are some important tips to remember:

  • Use the right size rubber bands for your tie dying 
  • Wear rubber gloves or you tie dye your own hands
  • Wear an apron to protect your clothing or wear something you don’t mind dirtying
  • Use warm water to mix the dye powder
  • Put the dye in a squeeze bottle for more detail or a bucket for less detailing
  • Make sure you have enough dye (or use dye kits)
  • Have a plastic bag (such as Ziplock bags) at the ready
  • Don’t tie dye your shirts inside!

Follow these steps and you will have a great tie dye job and fun while doing it!

If this is your first tie dye project, it’s a good idea to get a tie-dye kit! It comes with everything you need – a fabric item, squirt bottles, rubber bands, dye colors etc. Many even have design ideas to help you create amazing works of art out of a simple white t-shirt! 

Once you finish, you might be concerned about washing your item. The last thing you want to do is wear your shirt and get dye all over your clothes. Here’s what you need to do after you have finished dying your t-shirt.

How to Set the Color

First things first: do not touch your tie dyed item for at least twenty-four hours! This can be tempting as you really want to wear your new shirt or use your cool bandana but cutting the time short could cost you. This will result in poor coloring, and it won’t properly set. 

However, if you might be thinking the more time the better, this is not true. As with any clothing, letting your newly tie-dyed clothes sit for days on end will result in mold or other issues such as a bad odor. To avoid this, make sure you keep track of how long is has been since you let your t-shirts sit out and wash accordingly!

When you allow the item time to sit for at least a day, you allow the color to set into the fabric. After a day, now is the time to wash it and clean out the remaining dye. There is a very specific way that you should do this to make sure that you keep the color and keep yourself clean.

How to Properly Wash Your Tie Dye the First Time

The first time you wash your tie dye t-shirt or any tie-dye clothing, you’ll need to follow these special instructions. This is because you will be washing out some of the leftover dye and making sure it is clean and ready to wear. 

You can treat your tie dye t-shirt like any other shirt after this first washing, but in order to keep the vibrancy and the beauty you created with your dying, follow these steps the first time you wash your tie-dyed t-shirt.

1. Rinse in cold water

It is important you rinse your shirt in cool water before you start with the washer. You should do this for a few minutes and make sure that the dye begins to seep out of the shirt. This will remove the excess dye and leave behind the dye that you want to keep in the shirt. You can do this manually or you can do this with the rinse cycle for your washing machine.

If you do this by hand you may want to wear gloves so the bright colors don’t transfer on to your hands!

If you want to be incredibly thorough, check your t-shirt label to make sure you wash it properly and according to the suggested routine. 

2. Wash your tie dye item in a gentle cycle

After you rinse the shirt the next step is to wash it. Unless you want to have different colors on your other clothes, make sure to wash your tie-dyed t-shirt alone for the first time. 

You can wash it with other clothes in the future, but you want to make sure you get all the dye out the first time. Washing your t-shirt on a gentle cycle washes the shirt but keeps it soft enough to keep the color in the t-shirt.

Make sure you wash it in cold water and add detergent (regular laundry detergent is fine but skip the fabric softener!). You can treat it just like any other t-shirt and allow the excess loose dye to come out of the shirt. If you can, you can try to find a mild detergent that is more friendly to dye rather than ones that end up taking away the dye from your garments.

In the final rinse cycle, you should be able to see if your t-shirt came out properly. If you see muddy water, you might want to wash it once more to get the excess fabric dye out. There’s no harm in washing it again, just as long as you get all of the dye out and you are able to wear it! It it’s clean water you’re good to go!

3. Air dry or dry on high heat

After your wash your item, do not leave it in the washing machine for too long! This can damage your clothes and encourage bleeding. You might come back to a t-shirt that has lost some of its color if you leave it too long. That’s why you need to dry it right away and the right way!

Drying your tie dyed clothes properly can help solidify the dye and make sure that it is fully ready to wear. The heat helps to set the color and make it stronger against fading. This will help with future washes and make it so you have a long-lasting tie dye shirts for years.

What Happens If It Is Faded?

It can be unfortunate when the dye fades after you wash it. However, you can always re-dye it if you want to. This can help keep the color but might make the color faded over time. It is best to start with a new t-shirt if you aren’t satisfied with your tie dye job!

How Do I Treat Stains?

Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to treat stains on your tie dye t-shirts. Maybe you dropped spaghetti sauce on your t-shirt. Or perhaps someone spilled wine on the edge of your sleeve. Either way, there is a specific way you can get rid of stains and keep the color of your shirt.

Make sure you select the right pre treatment spray or spot remover. If you have the wrong one, it could lead into removing the stain and the dye from the shirt. This would be terrible if this happened! Choosing one that is color safe that doesn’t contain bleach will give you the best results.

To avoid any fading, make sure you follow the instructions clearly and only leave the treatment on the t-shirt as long as it says. If you do, you will have saved your shirt and preserved your tie dye too!


Tie dying can be fun, but you must make sure you do it the right way. There are specific steps to follow for dying, then preparing and washing your shirt. If you follow the steps prescribed above, you will have a beautiful t-shirt with vivid dye in no time!

For more washing fun (hehe!) check out how to wash your converse shoes to keep them nice and white or how to properly wash a down jacket!

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