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How to Wash Tie Dye So It Stays Vibrant

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Tie dyed t-shirts drying

Tie dye shirts are vibrant and beautiful. By learning how to properly wash and dry your tie dye tops, you'll be able to ensure that color stays strong throughout multiple wearings.

How to Wash a Tie Dye Shirt the First Time

If you make your own tie dye shirt, you'll need to follow a special procedure the first time you wash it. If you bought your-tie dye wash in the store, it's still a good idea to follow the first-time instructions for machine washing and drying.

Initial Rinse for a DIY Tie Dye Shirt

Wait 24 hours after tie dyeing a shirt, then thoroughly rinse it prior to running it through your washer and dryer. Keep the shirt in the bag it was placed in immediately after dyeing until rinsing.

  1. You can rinse it under running water in a sink, or place it on a concrete or asphalt driveway or patio and spray with a hose until the water runs clear.

  2. Remove the rubber bands or string from the shirt, continuing to hold it over the sink or outdoor surface.

  3. Wring out the shirt under running water, continuing to do so until the water runs clear.

  4. Allow excess water to drip out of the shirt. (Consider placing it outdoors for this step; you can hang it on a clothesline or tree branch.)

Machine Wash and Dry to Set the Dye

Once the shirt has been thoroughly rinsed and wrung out, it's time to wash and dry the shirt.

  1. Place the shirt in your washer by itself or with other newly tie-dyed items in a similar color scheme. Do not place other items in the washer with the tie dye shirt, as the dye will run.
  2. Set the washer load to the smallest size.
  3. Add a small amount of your favorite laundry detergent.
  4. Set the water temperature to hot. (The hot water will help set the dye.)
  5. Run the wash cycle.
  6. Place the shirt in the dryer, again by itself or with other items that have also just been tie-dyed.
  7. Dry on high heat until completely dry.

Note: It may take several hot water washings for the dye in a new tie dye shirt to set. It's best to wash it by itself or with only other similarly colored tie dye items several times. You could also wash it with dish towels or rags if you don't care if those items get discolored during the wash.

Continuing Wash a Tie Dye Shirt Without Fading

As you wear your shirt, it's important to follow appropriate laundry practices to keep your tie dye top looking its best. Don't continue using hot water or the high heat setting on the dryer after the first few washings. Key tips to keep in mind include:

  • Continue to wash tie dye shirts alone, or with other tie dye items or similarly colored garments.
  • Turn tie dye garments inside out before placing them in the washing machine.
  • Use a high quality laundry detergent.
  • Run the washer on the gentle cycle using cold water.
  • Promptly remove your shirt from the washing machine after the cycle finishes.
    • If the shirt sits in the washer too long while it is damp, the color could bleed.
    • Not only will this cause the shirt to fade, it could also damage other items in the washer.
  • Air dry if possible. If not, dry in the dryer on a medium or low heat setting.

Keep Your Tie Dye Tops Looking Terrific

Following these procedures will help make sure that your tie dye masterpieces maintain their bright colors for a long time. Wear your tie dye creations proudly, confident in the knowledge that you know how to keep them looking their best!

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How to Wash Tie Dye So It Stays Vibrant