How to get tie-dye off your hands
Getting dyes on your hands is something that happens frequently while tie-dyeing. Rest assured that the dyes are pretty much harmless and will come off the skin by themselves in a matter of hours. If you still are unsure or want a quicker solution to remove dyes from your skin then read the rest of this guide.
Is tie-dye toxic?
No, the dyes used in tie-dye are non-toxic. They are safe to use and even kids can use them and not have any negative effects. Just be sure not to inhale any dye powder and avoid exposing your skin to the dye purposefully. Skin that has been exposed to dyes will normally get stained but not for very long. The fiber-reactive dyes used in tie-dye will come off on their own in a matter of hours. You can speed up the dye removal process by washing and scrubbing the area.
How do I remove dyes from my hands?
It can happen to the best of us. You weren’t cautious or simply spilled some dye on yourself. You notice the color on your hands and wonder how you will ever get it off from your skin. Try running some water over it and if that doesn’t do the trick you can try a homemade recipe and make a gentle abrasive.
The first thing you should do is clean your hands in the sink with soapy water. This will remove most of the surface dye, but can still leave you with stained hands. If the problem persists you can gently scrub the affected area with a paste made from sodium bicarbonate (the cooking kind) and water. Simply paste up a small amount of sodium bicarbonate with some water and scrub the dyed skin with it.
Rest assured that nothing bad happened to you. Staining your hands is all part of the fun and will not cause long term effects. The worse thing that can happen is that people will notice the color on your hands and you will now have a fun story to tell.
How do I prevent staining my hands?
If you are really serious about not getting color on your hands, you can try wearing gloves. Common gloves made from either plastic, nitrile, latex or silicone work great at preventing the dyes from touching your skin. They will prevent your hands from getting dyed and will keep them clean at all times. This is especially useful when dyeing a shirt or when preparing your dye mixtures.
Does tie-dye come off the skin?
While they may stain the skin temporarily, fiber-reactive dyes which are used in tie-dye will eventually come off on its own. Dye spills and accidents are common, especially for beginners but can happen at all skill levels. It all happens to us from time to time without us noticing.
While they are safe to use, dyes can also stain the skin a little bit. The dye, when mixed with its dye activator (soda ash) will react and bond with natural and porous materials like fibers and even skin. Luckily for us, the dye only stains the very top layer of the skin, and just a bit of scrubbing with a paste of gentle abrasive made from baking soda and water will remove this dye.
And if you are like me and don’t mind having a bit of color on your skin, you can try just waiting, it doesn’t typically take very long, as much as a few hours and all the dye should have disappeared. For example, if you go to bed with stained hands, you can expect to wake up with clean hands. This is not a big problem, fiber-reactive dyes remove themselves quickly from the skin.
Can a tie-dye shirt stain my hands?
Once the dye is set on a piece of clothing, then it should not come off and stain you. Once the piece of clothing is well and truly washed, you should not fear handling the clothes themselves. The only time you really can make a mess of your hands is when you are either mixing the dyes in the bottles, or when you are dyeing the folded shirt itself. Also what can happen is if you are dyeing without gloves and you want to flip the shirt to dye the other side and you use your bare hands on dye.
What if I spilled dye on ... will it stain?
I really feel for you if you are in a situation where you spilled dyes on any furniture, equipment, or material that you wanted to stay clean. Maybe you are afraid if it will permanently stain or even ruin a piece of furniture like a sofa, couch or chair. What you need to do is act quick and stay vigilant when coloring your clothes.
What we found is that the most critical piece of furniture that can be stained permanently are the ones made from cloth. Couches and sofas are especially vulnerable to the dyes, because the dyes are made especially to color cloth and fabric. If you spilled dye-water on the furniture, try to absorb as much of it as possible before it soaks too far in the fabric.
This is especially important for porous materials. You should know that the fiber-reactive dyes can affect a lot of natural materials, especially because they are porous and can accept the dye-water inside their pores. Wood can be affected by the dyes if the wood has no treatment of finish on it. If the wood has a finish like a wax or a paint, then this is not as much a problem and the dye should not stick.
Can the dyes stain my sink?
If you are dealing with materials that are not porous, let’s say what if dyes can stain you sink? Can dyes stain a plastic bucket? Those are very good questions to ask before attempting tie-dye if you are afraid of making a mistake.
Stay assured that we found the dyes do not react at all on surfaces which are not porous, we can safely say that tie-dye will not stay your stainless steel sink, and will not stain your plastic bucket. What about your counter top? Well if it has a finish or is polished or generally is made with plastic, or other artificial materials, then it will likely not stick and not stain. It should not stain your bathtub or your shower if you decide to rinse the tie-dye shirt there.
The surfaces of most tables is fine to use and can be wiped away easily with a wet rag or paper towels. You should be careful not to work on any surface that is not protected, if you have a raw wood table, then please do not spill dye on it if you don’t want to stain it. Raw wood will accept the dye in its pores and will get stained permanently. Keep in mind the right materials to use for your work station and if you have any doubt you can put a plastic protection sheet over the surface or even newspaper to protect the surface.
What if I got tie-dye in my hair?
This is a peculiar scenario that could very well happen to someone at one point or another, especially for kids and tie-dye beginners. If you’re even in this situation where you got dye on your hair, the best course of action is to rinse off as much as possible. If you can, use warm water to best remove the dye from the hair. Do not use water that is too hot because you could burn your skin.
Be very careful when using dyes so that you do not spill them anywhere sensitive. But even if you did spill it on a part of your body, do not despair! The dyes used in tie-dye are safe and will not hurt you. In the worst case, you can try waiting for a few hours to see if the dye will come off the hair, and if it doesn’t maybe you should consider seeing a hair professional.
Is tie-dye harmful for the environment?
This was and is still is a very big concern for us, as we are dyeing more and more clothing and trying to produce as less waste as possible. You were probably wondering at some point “is my tie-dye waste water harmful for the environment? We all know that this is a risk we take each time we rinse the shirt in the sink and watch all the excess dyed water fall off into the drain.
What we found in our research is that when used in small quantities, such as tie-dyeing at home there is no risk for the environment. The small operations we do at home is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things and your local water treatment plant can handle it without a problem. On the other hand, in big dyeing operations, such as the industrial production of clothes, wastewater management is a concern.
If you are producing a lot of dyed clothing then you should definitely see what you can do to reduce the waste water you make, and maybe try to treat the water yourself as much as possible because the dyes in large quantity are very stable and resistant. They should not be discarded in water streams in large quantities because they can stay suspended in the water for a very long time and will not degrade naturally and can affect the environment if they are too concentrated. For home use, no problem with flushing dye water down the drain.
How can I clean my tie-dye wastewater?
The best information we found on treatment of tie-dye wastewater is to use a simple filter made from activated charcoal. The small particulate of charcoal will react and treat the dye in the water and will remove most of the suspended color.
The easiest solution is to install a sink for rinsing with a specially purpose-built filter attached to the drain. You can make the filter yourself or you can buy something that will attach easily to the drain. All the water from the rinsing should go through the filter and be treated as soon as they contact the activated charcoal. Another solution is to use large retention tanks and just letting the dye-water accumulate and evaporate by itself over time.