How to Tie-Dye White Shirts

Last Updated on April 2, 2021 by teamobn

Everytime I see a tie-dye shirt, I remember the early 90’s. It is mostly associated with the 1960’s era, but I know it became popular again in the 90’s. It was the time when almost everybody I saw was wearing these multicoloured tops.

I still think they are cute to own though. If you have old white shirts that aren’t pristine anymore, you can try giving them this hippie look.

Tie-dyes work best with 100% cotton, but you can also use silk or rayon. A 50% cotton, 50% polyester is okay but the results will not be as good. Don’t bother with 100% polyester as your dyes will not hold at all.

This tutorial shows how to do a spiral rainbow design, and uses three main colours – yellow, fuschia, and turquoise.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt


  • White shirt
  • Procion dyes (at least three different colours)
  • Apron
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber/plastic gloves
  • Squeeze bottles (depending on how many colors you will use)
  • Urea
  • Soda ash
  • Salt
  • Small Tub
  • Paper towels or old rags for cleaning
  • Plastic cover (to cover work area)
  • Ziploc


Always wash the shirt first, whether it is newly bought or not.

Wear old clothes. gloves and an apron for an extra protection.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

Mix warm baby-bath water, 2 tablespoons of salt, and soda ash (follow instructions on the soda ash package), and soak the shirt in it for about 10 minutes. Wring the shirt thoroughly, the drier the better the absorption of colours.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

Lay the shirt down on a flat surface. Hold the center either with a rod or simply with your hands and twist it.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

This step is more crucial than you think – it will determine the outcome of your shirt. Once your shirt takes the shape of a pie like this, carefully remove whatever it is that is holding the center. Make sure you don’t ruin the form.

Put rubber bands like in the picture. Halfway through putting the rubber bands on, carefully turn the shirt over and continue putting on more rubber bands. The idea is to keep the shirt flat – no parts are bulging or higher than the others.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

Now is the time to dye it. Place the shirt on a paper plate for easier flipping later on.

Start with the lighter colours first. Imagine that you are working with a real pie chart. Starting with the center, squeeze one colour out on 1/3 “pie” of the shirt. Do this in a steady manner to have a nice design.

Then colour the second and third pie with the two other dyes. Overlap the colours to make sure no whites will be left. Remember that some parts of the shirt are hidden.

Prepare a second paper plate and flip the first paper plate over it to transfer the shirt. Now you are working with the other side of the shirt. Dye it the same manner you did on the front side. Make sure the colours at the back and front match.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

When done, place the shirt in a ziploc and close it tight. Let the colours sit and bond properly with the fabric for 24 hours. If you can’t wait that long, you can check it after 8 hours.

Wear rubber gloves again and old clothes/apron before taking the shirt out of the plastic bag. Carefully remove the rubber bands and rinse the shirt with cold water. It may seem like all the colours are coming out, but don’t worry. Your shirt is well dyed. Keep rinsing until water runs clear.

How to Tie Dye a White Shirt

Wash your dyed clothes at least three times separately before washing them together with your other laundry.

Source: stinkymum




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