How much water do you put in tie-dye bottles?

How much water do you put in tie-dye bottles?

You may be asking yourself : “how much water do I need to put in my bottles in order to complete my tie-dye project?”. The thing you may be worried about is either to not make enough dye and you are left with white parts on your shirt or that you make too much dye and you have leftovers dyes. We will cover both of these scenarios and we will teach you to know how much water you need in your tie-dye bottles.

The answer we found is that it entirely depends on the bottles you are using and the number of shirts you are using. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a full medium bottle which is 8 oz to 12 oz in order to tie-dye a single shirt completely. If you purchased a tie-dye kit you can follow the instructions that come with the kit. If you do not have instructions, you can fill up the bottles you have 3/4 of the way to full. The reason we don’t full the bottles is that we need empty space in the bottle to mix the dye by shaking it.

The following chart we compiled is an approximation of the lower limit of water you can use to dye a number of medium shirts. There is a lot of variation to this and during the process of tie-dyeing you will probably use more than you need. Especially when we are a beginner, we will spill some dye here and there and lose some water that way. Other than spilling, we can have a tendency to overuse the dye on certain portions of the shirt and flooding the fabric, which makes the excess water flow out bringing the dye with it.

About us

We are Samuel and Francis. About two years ago we bought our first tools and supplies for tie-dyeing. Ever since then we’ve been learning the skills of folding and dyeing in intricate ways. We’ve learned from our experiences on the field about what techniques works and what doesn’t. This is the site were we share everything we’ve learned.

How much water and dye per shirt

1/2 cup (125 ml)
1 cup (250 ml)
2 cups (500 ml)
1 quart (1 L)

Dye powder
1 tsp
2 tsp
4 tsp

# of shirts

This chart is a lower limit and it will certainly take you more water than that, at least for your first times, until you are experienced with squirting the dye without wasting a drop. You can start by using a total of 250 ml for your first few times so you are sure that you have a bit more dye if you missed some spots while dyeing.

We do not recommend that you mix a second batch of dye to finish the shirt because the two mixes can have a different color, even if you measured them correctly. We are better off by simply making a bit more than anticipated. If you have leftover it’s not a big deal, just grab another piece of clothing and give it the tie-dye treatment! Alternatively you can dispose of the excess dye.

Do I have to fill the bottle?

You may be wondering if you can make a smaller dye mix than what is recommended. You may be wanting to make a very small sample of maybe you just need a bit of this color for your project. The way you would go about adding water to your bottles in these situation would be different. Let’s explore what you would do if you wanted to make a smaller mix.

We already know that it is recommended to fill the bottle only up to 3/4 of the bottle capacity, so that there is space for mixing the dye in the water. You should know that you can fill up the bottle with as little water as you want. Let’s say your bottle can contain a total of 8 oz. a normal amount of water would be 6 oz, but you could just as well make a mix with only 1 oz of water.

You can choose to make very concentrated dyes this way without using much dye powder at all. You can put a lot of dye in a very small amount of water and make saturated dye water. Additionally, you can use a small amount of water and add some additives like soda ash and salt to create a substance which behaves a bit like a paint that you can brush directly on the shirt.

Samuel and Francis

We are the sole owners of this site, we live in Canada where we work everyday on making tie-dye more accessible to everyone. We are always looking forward to teaching you something new.