How to get tie-dye off your hands?
It all happened to us as a moment or another, without you noticing maybe. We all have spilled dyes onto our hands or on another part of our skin and we are wondering “how do I remove this dye from my hands?”. Or it could even be your kids with the stained hands, but the question remains, how to clean dyes off your skin?
First, know that dyes used in tie-dye are non-toxic, they are safe to use. Even kids can use them and not have any negative effects. The first thing you should do is clean your hands in the sink with soapy water. This should help you. If the problem persists, you can try other methods.
Now we are reassured that nothing bad happened, staining our hands is all part of the fun. If you are really serious about not getting color on your hands, you can try wearing gloves they work great and keep your hands clean at all times. But what if you were in a hurry and needed to remove the dye as fast as possible, what could you do in this situation?
The easy answer is to use a very gentle abrasive like baking soda that almost everyone has in their house. It is a very common household product and is safe to use. You can use it by mixing it with water and making a paste. You can then scrub the paste gently over the stains on your hands. Continue scrubbing until the color fades away and there’s no more dye on the skin.
Does tie-dye come off skin?
Fiber-reactive dyes that are used in tie-dyeing, while they are safe they can also stain the skin a little bit. The dye, when mixed with soda and will become reactive and will stain natural materials like fibers and even skin! The trick is that the dye only dyes the very top layer of the skin, and just with a little bit of scrubbing with a paste of gentle abrasive like baking soda 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.
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 xyz, 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.
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.
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.
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.