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Tie Dye


Plastic tablecloth or garbage bags and tape
Large bowl of soapy water and paper towels
100-percent-cotton T-shirts (or other cotton products to dye)
Buckets or dish tubs (4-quart minimum)
2 or more colors of fabric dye
Salt (1 cup per dye bath)
Rubber bands and marbles and/or coins
Spray bottles and plastic squeeze bottles
Sealable plastic bags
Latex gloves


Step 1 Choose one or more tie-dye techniques. Here are 3 that can be mixed and matched for far-out fabulous results:

Marble Tie With Spray-bottle Dye

Knotted Tie With Squirt-bottle Dye

Twisted Tie With Dunking Dye

Step 2 Set Up Dyeing Station

Cover the work area with a disposable plastic tablecloth or a few garbage bags and tape your cover in place. Have a trash can and some paper towels nearby as well as a large bowl of soapy water for the kids to rinse their hands

Step 3 Prepare the Tees

To make sure the shirts are fit to be tied, soak them in water first. They'll be much easier for the kids to work with. If the dyes come with soda ash, dissolve it in a tub of water. After the kids have tied their wet shirts, soak the shirts in the soda ash solution for 20 minutes. This helps the dye to bond with the fabric more easily. If the dyes didn't come with soda ash, you can purchase it separately at your local crafts store and soak the tees in it for brighter, longer-lasting results.

Step 4 Make the Dye Baths

Prepare the dyes according to the manufacturer's directions. If the directions don't already call for it, dissolve 1 cup of salt in hot water for each dye bath and add it to the bath to help set the dye. See the box below for our dye recommendations.

Step 5 Washing and Dyeing 

Allow the T-shirt to set in the plastic bag overnight. Put on the rubber gloves and rinse the shirt, starting with warm water and then cool, until the water runs clear. Remove the rubber bands during rinsing. This is permanent dye, so be careful not to get any of it on your clothes.

Wash the shirt by itself in the washing machine with cold water to avoid shrinkage. It's a good idea to run the washer again with warm water and some soap to make sure that no dye is left in your machine.

Hang up the shirt to dry or dry it in the dryer on the coolest setting.

After wearing the shirt, wash and dry it separately once more in case the dye is not completely rinsed out.