For Beginners: How to Tie Dye Your T-Shirts at Home

Nada Abbady
5/27/20, 12:00 AM

Tie dye is making a strong comeback in 2020 fashion trends, and you’ve probably noticed this by now on runways and even in stores. Also the urban outfitters tie dye collection almost on every Instagram style page. This is why I am going to introduce you to tie-dye instructions for beginners, different tie dye patterns and how to tie dye with bleach.


Image credits: Urbanoutfitters

Basic instructions to help you achieve the best tie dye results

There are ready tie dye kits, but they might not be easy to find, so you’re going to need to gather your supplies yourself.

What you will need:

- Protective gloves

- An apron or old clothes

- Fabric dye or bleach

- Plastic squeeze bottles or you can just make a hole in an empty water bottle

- Rubber bands

- Large ziplock bags

- A dye fixer such as salt or soda ash (AKA sodium carbonate, you can find it at any supply store)

- A container and hot water

- A plastic cover

- Items to dye

After gathering all your supplies, there are 3 steps you’ll need to follow before you start dying..

Step 1 - prepare your space

If you’re doing this at home, you’re going to need a plastic cover or a garbage bag to protect your space from the mess, wear an old T-shirt or an apron and gloves of course to protect your hands from getting dyed.

Step 2 - prepare your dye or bleach

Instructions will vary depending on the type of dye you’re using, but I personally use powder dye and mix it with hot water to dissolve properly, then transfer it to your plastic squeeze bottle.

As for bleach, mix one part bleach to one part water, and follow the same instructions mentioned bellow.

Step 3 - prepare your shirt/piece of clothing

Always use cotton fabrics when tie dying, 100% cotton favorably, but 50% is also acceptable, cotton is the best material for fully sucking up the colors and holding them. To prepare the shirt, especially if it’s not brand new, pre-wash it with hot water, this ensures that any residues of oils and chemicals that might resist the dye are washed out.

Now that you’re all set, choose your tie dye pattern and the colors and get going..

If you're having trouble deciding on the colors, check the 2020 top 10 color trends to look for.

There are countless tie dye designs and patterns, but I am going to introduce you to the most common three designs to try out.

Bullseye dye pattern

- Pinch the center of the T-shirt and pull upward, forming a tube.

- Place rubber bands with even spaces throughout the length of the tube.

- Apply dye of different colors or the same color to each section.


Photo credits:, Pinterest

Spiral tie dye design

- Start from the middle of the T-shirt, set a tube or a stick and start twisting it till it turns into a tight spiral shape.

- Using rubber bands, start dividing it into pie pieces.

- Apply dye to each pie piece on both sides, and make sure it’s the same dye color on both sides of each section.


Photo credits:, Instagram @kelsrfloyd

Crumple tie dye effect

This technique is the easiest and most random...

- Simply keep scrunching and crumpling a T-shirt till it gets so messy.

-  Turn it into something close to a pancake shape and place a few rubber bands just to make it tight.

- Apply the dye.


Photo credits:, Pinterest

You can also check these tropical prints and bright color pairings for some inspiration.

Post tie-dye care

This is the last step and it’s applicable to all the patterns.

When using dye:

- After dying, you place the T-shirt in a plastic ziplock bag for 6-8 hours or overnight.

- Add the dye fixer to warm water (not hot) and then add your T-shirt and leave it in the water for a while.

- Wash your T-shirt with cold water and hang it in the fresh air to dry.

When using bleach:

- Bleach should be left for 8-10 mins to really seep into the fabric, but try not to leave it longer so the bleach does not damage your garment.

- Wash with cold water.

- It’s better to let it dry away from the sun for the first time, to avoid the whole sun-bleach stains for the first wash.

Main image credits: Pinterest



Looking for another creative DIY? We've got a ton here!


Nada Abbady

An animal lover and a travel buff who grew up in a house with four women where fashion and beauty were the language. Whenever she is not writing she is probably sitting in front of a canvas all covere...

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