How to Wash Tie-Dye

The first wash after a successful tie-dye project can be daunting. With the bold colors of tie-dye being their main selling point, washing your clothing might be scary.

You have to be careful when washing to avoid ruining the distinctive colors and design of the tie-dye. The last thing you want to do is wash out the dye of the clothing.

Even if your tie-dye clothing is store-bought, you should wash it like a DIY project.

The Right Way to Wash Your Tie-Dye Without Fading it

Wash Your Tie-Dye Without Fading

Color will bleed out the first few times you wash your tie-dye clothing, which is normal. As a result, you should only wash with other similarly-colored tie-dye clothing. After about five or six washes, you should be able to launder with regular clothing.

Machine Washing Tie-Dye

Machine Washing Tie-Dye
  1. Use the cold water setting to enhance the intensity of the colors. But it is best to follow the water temperature instructions on the fabric label. For instance, if your tie-dye is polyester, you will have to use the hot water setting. Other fabrics might require cold water.
  2. Set your washer to the “normal” wash cycle. A normal wash cycle typically takes between 50 minutes to one hour to completely wash and rinse.
  3. Use a color-fast laundry detergent. Make sure you use just enough detergent to reduce rinse time. 
  4. Do not overload your washer, so your clothing has enough room and the water in the washer does not get too muddy.
  5. Turn your tie-dye clothing inside out. Doing this will protect the design from the friction of the washer.
  6. Remove your clothing from the washer immediately after the wash ends. Leaving your tie-dye clothing wet in the washer causes too much dye to bleed, which will ruin the design.

Hand Washing Tie-Dye

It is labor-intensive to wash your tie-dye clothing by hand, but it is more sustainable and gentle because:

  • You are in control of how the wash goes. 
  • You are preserving the tie-dye design because of the mild wash process.
  • You do not have to worry about the dye staining the white part of the clothing.
  • You will not have to worry about wasting water and energy by running a wash cycle, particularly if you have just one item to wash.
  • You do not have to worry about transferring color to other clothing.

The steps:

  1. Wear gloves and an apron to avoid stains. This step will not be necessary after a few washes.
  2. Fill up a basin or a bucket with cold water. Avoid using a bathtub or a sink because of dye stains.
  3. Pour in a mild laundry detergent and swish to form soapy suds.
  4. Place your tie-dye clothing in soapy water. Leave the tie dye to soak for thirty minutes.
  5. Rinse the shirt gently with cold water. Try not to squeeze the clothing; it can damage the design or the fabric.
  6. After rinsing, gently press the shirt with your hands to remove the water.
  7. Place a clean old towel on a flat surface. 
  8. Lay the freshly-washed tie-dye clothing on the towel. Roll the towel tightly with the shirt inside. Do not squeeze. The towel will remove some of the water from the tie-dye clothing.

How to Dry Your Tie Dye Clothing

Dry your tie-dye clothing immediately after washing, or the color can bleed out.

Air-dry your tie-dye clothing. Tumble drying can destroy the design and cause the colors to fade because of the heat and friction.

Washing Your Tie Dye for the First Time

Washing Your Tie Dye for the First Time

The dreaded first wash is imminent whether you buy brand new tie-dye clothing or make it yourself. 

There is a delicate balance here. You want to wash the clothing so it’s clean and wearable by removing the excess dye. But you don’t want to ruin it.

  1. Rinse with cold water.

You have to rinse your new tie dye to remove the excess dye. Rinse your clothing one by one to prevent the colors from transferring. 

Wear gloves and an apron or old cloth to prevent dye stains. You either rinse in the sink or outside with a garden hose.

Cotton fabric calls for cold water. But with polyester, you have to start rinsing with hot water and gradually change to cool water.

  • Start rinsing your clothing under running cold water while it is still tied.
  • While rinsing, untie the tie-dye clothing and then turn inside out.
  • Leave to soak in water for thirty minutes to ensure the tie-dye clothing stops bleeding color.
  1. Wash your Clothing

After rinsing your tie-dye clothing, wash immediately. Any delay can damage your new tie-dye creation. 

Follow the wash instructions above. 

How Soon Should You Wash Your Tie-Dye

After your tie-dye project, you should wait a few hours for your dye to set before you wash it. Different tie-dyes have different wait times.

Leave water-soluble dyes used on cotton fabric to set for 8 to 24 hours. This step is crucial because cotton needs time to soak up the tie dye to produce vibrant colors.

But with polyester fabric, since it can’t absorb moisture and the dyeing process is different, the wait time is significantly shorter.

How to Deal With Stains on Tie Dye

There are bound to be a lot of stains when dealing with tie-dye clothing. 

Removing Stains from Your Tie Dye Clothing

Do not use regular stain removal methods for your tie-dye clothing to avoid removing the dye along with the stain. 

  • Check for stains on the clothing.
  • Wet the stained area of your clothing with water.
  • Apply a little detergent to the wet-stained area.
  • Gently agitate the stained area with two fingers.
  • Rinse 
  • Repeat the process for other stains on the clothing.

Removing Dye Stains from Your Hand

If you have dye stains on your hand, mix baking soda with little water to form a paste. 

Wash your hands with soap and water, and then scrub your hands with this paste. 

The dye stains will come off.

Removing Dye Stains from Your Washer

Your washer getting dye stains is an unlikely scenario as tie-dye won’t stain metal. But on the off chance that it does, you can remove the stain.

  1. Pour bleach and washing machine cleaner into the washer. One cup of bleach is suitable for regular top-loaders, while 2 cups are suitable for heavier top loaders or front loaders.
  2. Some washers have a wash cycle just for cleaning the washer. In the absence of this wash cycle, place your washer on its hottest washing cycle.
  3. When the wash cycle ends, open the lid. Inspect the washer with a flashlight and a white paper towel for leftover dye.

Leave a comment