Your Guide to Tie-Dyeing *Literally* Everything In Your Closet

Ann Wang
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Seventeen

I've been quarantined for 5201 days now and have officially run out of things to do. So instead of starting and abandoning yet another puzzle, I've decided to keep myself busy by tie-dyeing basically every item in my closet.

If you haven't noticed, tie-dye sweats have become the unofficial uniform of pandemic 2020. That means, now is the perfect time to DIY tie-dye all your old tees and sweats, which could allll use an upgrade. Sure, you could go online and buy yourself an overpriced set (if so, click here), then wait two weeks for it to come in the mail, but what's the fun in that? Answer: there isn't any.

Here's your go-to guide for how to tie-dye at home. Time to meet your new favorite hobby.

What You'll Need to Tie-Dye

  • Any item you want to tie-dye

  • Garbage/plastic bags

  • Rubber bands

  • Rubber gloves

  • White towel

  • Pitcher/container to mix dye

  • Dye

  • Hot water

  • Dish soap

  • Squirt bottles

If you don't want to track down all these items individually, you can easily purchase a pre-made tie-dye kit that comes with everything you need to get started.

Prepare Your Tie-Dye Space

If you plan on coloring more than one item (highly recommend, since you've already set everything up), cover your workspace with layered garbage bags. Not only will this protect your flooring, you'll be able to easily wrap up each item after you finish dyeing it. That way, the color can saturate the fabric fully, without any leaking (a total lifesaver if you're doing this inside the house).

Choose Your Tie-Dye Design

There are so many tie-dye patterns you can create when you're DIYing it yourself. Before you start randomly applying dye to every piece of clothing you can lay your hands on, watch these videos for inspiration.

Bullseye, Swirl, Stripe, and Ombre

Ice Dye

How to Tie-Dye

Dyeing materials ✔️, space prepped ✔️, design and color scheme ✔️. Now, it's time to start dyeing your whole wardrobe. Here's a step-by-step.

  1. Dampen the item you want to tie-dye to help the color stick.

  2. Scrunch or twist each section, then use an elastic to hold it in place. Do this to ALL of your items before you start dyeing.

  3. If you're mixing your own dye, shake it up, and mix it with hot water to get the most accurate pigment. Do this in an empty pitcher/container, add a little bit of dish soap, and color mix. Test the color by dropping a spoonful on a white towel. Once you're satisfied with the color, fill your squirt bottle with the mix.

  4. Now the fun part! Lay the item flat (well, flat-ish) over your garbage bags, put on your gloves, and soak each tied section with color.

  5. Once you've finished soaking the item with dye, you can either wrap it up with the trash bag that it's already laying on to let it saturate or remove the rubber bands to check that enough dye has covered the garment. If not, you can re-scrunch the places that are still white, soak with more dye, then wrap it up in the trash bag. Fast forward the above video to 1:17 for a tutorial.

  6. After you're finished dying, let the items sit overnight to really soak in the color.

  7. Once they've set, rinse each piece in cold water then machine wash and dry accordingly.

Heads up: if you're dyeing a brand new item, wash it first so that the dye clings to it better.

Watch These DIY Tutorials

Without a Tie-Dye Kit

With a Tie-Dye Kit

If you're reading through this and thinking that's a lot, here are some pre-dyed items you can purchase with just a click. No judgement.

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