Learning how to wash tie dye correctly is essential to avoid ruining your dyed fabric and other items you need to wash. Remember that tie-dyed items can bleed out color when exposed to water, depending on whether or not you're washing them the first time. This guide will provide detailed instructions on washing your tie-dyed socks, shirts, or other fabric-made items right after the tie-dying process.
How to Wash Tie Dye for the First Time
After the final rinsing stage of the general process of tie-dyeing, you would need to wash the fabric to remove any remaining loose dye altogether.
While you can always hand-wash it, we highly recommend using your washing machine for many reasons, including consistent water temperature and wash and rinse cycles.
What You'll Need
Apart from your washer and/or dryer, the two other items you need to prepare to wash your tie-dyed garments successfully are:
- Laundry detergent
- Mesh bag (For delicate items)
Best Laundry Detergent for Washing Tie Dye
The laundry detergent you should use will depend on the type of washing machine that you have at home. We highly recommend using special, dye-safe detergent products if you have a top-loading washer.
The most popular one is Synthrapol detergent. This concentrated and industrial-strength formula works well in rinsing excess dye. It removes the excess dye powders without mixing them all together. Thus, you won't have to worry about your multi-colored tie-dye shirts having the colors all bleed together.
Since Synthrapol detergent is sudsy in nature, it is not suitable for front-loading machines.
How to wash tie-dye garments for front loaders? Well, you can go ahead and use your regular laundry detergent. Alternatively, opt for a dish soap product like Joy and Dawn.
Mesh Laundry Bags for Washing Tie Dye
Some fabric types are better off being hand-washed due to their delicate fibers. While cotton is the best fabric for tie-dyeing, we understand that some of you probably used a different fabric, like polyester, silk, or rayon.
In that case, you need to have a mesh laundry bag to protect the fabric from any damage that the washer may cause. Choose a mesh bag you don't mind disposing of after use, as it will be covered with stains.
How to Wash Tie Dye the First Time Step by Step
When washing tie dye the first time, follow these six basic steps:
- Add the right amount of water and detergent.
- Load your tie-dyed items in the washer.
- Run a wash and rinse cycle.
- Check rinse water to ensure it is clear.
- Repeat the process when needed.
- Allow to dry.
Step 1: Add the Right Amount of Water and Detergent
Just like washing other laundry items, fill your washing machine with the right amount of water. Then, add your detergent. The amount required is as follows:
- Synthrapol Detergent: Check the label for exact amounts. Most brands specify an amount per weight of the fabric or volume of water.
- Regular Detergent: Follow package instructions.
- Dish Soap: One to two drops.
Step 2: Load Your Tie-Dyed Items in the Washer
Now that you're all set, the next step on how to wash tie dye is to place your tie-dyed fabric items in the machine. Put any delicate fabric items inside a mesh laundry bag before doing so.
Since you are trying to wash out excess dye, it would be best to wash the items separately. Doing so will prevent color bleeding to your other garments. You can wash them together if you've tie-dyed two or more items using the same colors.
Step 4: Run a Wash and Rinse Cycle
Set your wash cycle to warm or hot since the dye ultimately sets better at this temperature. Once you're all set, you have to run the machine and let it do its job.
Step 5: Check Rinse Water
Since the primary purpose of washing your tie-dye t-shirt and other items is to remove the excess or loose dye, expect that the rinse water will be colored.
Clear rinse water will indicate that you're done washing your fabric. That's why it's best to peek through the machine's glass door or slightly open its lid during the rinse cycle to examine the water's color.
Of course, there is a high chance that the water will still be colored during the first wash.
Step 6: Repeat the Process When Needed
You need to repeat the entire process of how to wash tie dye (from Steps 1 to 5) until the rinse water no longer looks colored. Depending on your detergent, you may need to repeat the entire process a few times.
Step 7: Allow to Dry
The best drying method is to air dry your tie-dyed items. Unlike when using a dryer, it will prevent shrinkage and damage. Air drying ensures the colors stay brighter for extended periods.
If you still prefer to use your dryer and have a dryer-safe fabric, never use a dryer sheet. You must also use a medium or low heat setting, even if the fabric's care label says you can dry it at high heat.
Don't hang tie dye items in an area exposed to direct sunlight when air drying. Otherwise, the tie-dye colors might fade, or your fabric might shrink due to the high heat. If you are drying multiple items, ensure they do not touch.
Tie Dye Washing Instructions - Extra Tips
The key to success in washing your tie-dyed fabric is more than just following the steps above. You also have to be aware of the do's and don'ts.
We've already mentioned a few of them while discussing the instructions, but here are a few more that you need to keep in mind:
- Wear Protective Gear
- Don't Overfill Your Machine
- Remove the Fabric From the Machine Immediately
- Don't Use Fabric Softener or Conditioner
- Place Your Rinsed Tie-Dyed Fabric on a Flat Surface
Wear Protective Gear
Although tie-dye kits and powder products are generally safe, you will want to wear rubber gloves through the washing process. Wearing protective clothing like an apron or old clothes is also highly recommended. Doing so will ensure you don't stain your skin and clothes.
Don't Overfill Your Machine
Whether washing your daily clothes or tie-dyed fabric, ensure you don't overfill your machine. This won't be a problem regarding how to wash tie dye because, as mentioned, you'll probably just wash one or two items at a time.
Load your machine with three to four similarly colored tie-dyed fabrics, depending on the size, if you have a small washer. For bigger units, you can place up to five to six.
The secret is ensuring that the fabrics have enough room to move around so that the machine can efficiently wash off the loose dye. This will save you time and effort because you won't have to wash your items more cycles than required.
Overcrowding can make the water a little more colored than expected because there would be a higher amount of loose dye in the water. This means it will take more time to thoroughly rinse the excess dye.
Remove the Fabric From the Machine Immediately
Once the rinse cycle is done, make sure that you remove your tie-dyed items from the washing machine. Remember that they're still damp, so the color can still bleed.
Don't Use Fabric Softener or Conditioner
Stay away from any fabric softeners or conditioners as they may affect your dyes.
Place Your Rinsed Tie-Dyed Fabric on a Flat Surface
While preparing your machine for washing, place your tie-dyed fabric on top of a flat surface. Remember that this stage is done right after the rinsing procedure of the standard tie-dye process.
Cover the surface with paper towels or newspaper, then cover them with plastic wrap or plastic tablecloth. Doing so will protect the surface from stains.
Also, spread the fabric onto the surface, not crumpled or folded, to ensure the "colored" or "dyed" water drips freely. Of course, you should also protect your flooring from stains by covering it with a tarp or similar materials.
How to Care for Tie-Dyed Fabric
After learning the process and tips on how to wash tie dye the first time, you should also ensure that you maintain the quality and brightness of the colors for a long time. After all, you took time, effort, and money to learn how to tie dye.
Keep the following care instructions in mind or share them with the person to whom you're gifting or selling your tie-dye project:
Use Cold-Water, Gentle Cycle for the Succeeding Washes
Now that you've removed the excess dye successfully, you can wash your tie-dye fabric with the rest of your laundry. Of course, ensure you mix it with light or dark-colored items; the basic rule of washing any fabric.
You also no longer need to use warm or hot water because cold water will prevent the color from fading. Not only will this maintain the color's quality, but it also ensures no die leaches out from the tie-dyed garment. Also, set your machine to a gentle wash cycle for the same reasons as above.
Use Color-Safe Detergent Products
Remember that you're literally washing colored fabric. Hence, choose laundry products that are color-safe.
Aptly named, this type of detergent has color protectors to prevent fading. While this feature makes some people assume it won't work for stains, that's a misconception. These products are formulated with enzymes that focus on removing particular stains.
Turn Your Tie-Dyed Fabric Inside Out
Turning colored fabric, such as t-shirts, socks, and hoodies, inside out will help protect the color from fading. That's because they're not in direct contact with the detergent, the machine's moving parts, and even the heat when air or machine-drying them.
In the case of how to wash tie dye items, this technique will also give you peace of mind, especially if you're unsure whether you've thoroughly washed off the excess or loose dye. When turned inside out, you wouldn't risk staining the rest of the fabric if there's still excess dye.
Treat Stains With Bleach-Free Products
Treating stubborn stains on your tie-dye fabric can be a bit tricky because some parts are colored while others are white.
That said, you'll find several bleach-free spot removers or pre-treatment sprays that work wonders on your fabric. Use them even if the stained area is white to be 100% sure that you don't expose the colored part to any bleach.
Simply follow the instructions on the package on how you'll use the product.
Use our Tie Dye Washing Instructions to Wash and Maintain Your Tie-Dye Fabric Correctly!
Mastering DIY arts and crafts techniques are truly all about patience and practice, but some mistakes are preventable, such as dye staining your other fabrics.
Learn the steps and tips to wash tie dye items and care for them to save you effort, time, and money. After all, the process is like washing your other clothing with just a few tweaks and unique but accessible laundry products.