How to wash tie-dye shirts?

How to wash tie-dye shirts without stains

It can be a nerve-wracking experience to wash your tie-dye shirts for the first time. It might even stop you from buying a tie-dye shirt. Will it stain my clothes or my washer? What about washing a freshly made tie-dye shirt? You want to be sure and follow the best instructions.

Contrary to popular belief, tie-dye shirts can be washed like any other clothes. In fact, the dyes commonly used to make them is actually more bleed-resistant than what is found on store-bought clothes. When a tie-dye shirt is made by following the standard procedure, it can even be washed with white clothes without staining them. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Even with all these rainbow colors, a well-rinsed tie-dye shirt will not bleed in the wash.

In this post we’ll go into details about what makes tie-dye shirts so great at resisting bleeding and fading. We’ll also see what you should do in most common scenarios. Finally, we’ll go over the most common tie-dye washing questions.

How to rinse a fresh tie-dye shirt?

Let’s first get into the scenario where you’ve freshly dyed your tie-dye shirt and are wondering how to wash it without staining it. As part of the standard tie-dye process, the shirt needs to be rinsed out to remove the excess dye. When this is done properly, no free dye molecules should remain on the surface of the shirt.

After the dye has had time to react and while the shirt is still wet, you should now rinse out the shirt. This is best accomplished by submerging the shirt in a bath of cold water. Once the shirt is submerged, being untying it and exposing fresh water to its whole surface. Be thorough when rinsing, you need to work the water into the shirt and open every fold to release the dye. Continue rinsing the shirt this way for a few minutes.

Once the whole shirt has been exposed to cold fresh water, it’s now time to give it it’s final rinse. Rinse out the shirt under lukewarm running water until it no longer releases dye. Once every nook and cranny has been flushed out of excess dye, you can consider the shirt rinsed. All that is left is to wash the shirt in the washing machine by itself to remove any possible dye we may have missed. Use cold water and a bit of detergent. Once that is done the shirt should no longer bleed and is ready to be worn. You can now wash it like any other piece of clothing.

How to wash a newly-bought tie-dye shirt?

You should always be careful when washing a bought tie-dye shirt for the first time. You never know if the rinsing process has been accomplished well or not. To test this, you can soak the shirt in lukewarm water for a few minutes and see if the water changes color.

With a bought tie-dye shirt you’re always better to wash it by itself first. You never know how well it was rinsed out before getting to you. Simply wash it by itself for the first time using cold water and a bit of detergent. After this first wash it should now be ready worn. You can then wash it like any other piece of clothing.

Do tie-dye shirts bleed in the wash?

Freshly made tie-dye shirts will run the most when you are rinsing them. The moment wen you are done rinsing the shirt and have washed there should be no risk of bleeding or running in the wash.

If rinsed out correctly, a tie-dye shirt should not run in the wash. We recommend that you use your best judgment, especially if you are a beginner. Always wash the tie-dye shirt first by itself to ensure it will not run.

Can I wash multiple tie-dye shirts at the same time?

Assuming the shirts have all been rinsed correctly, you can absolutely wash them all at the same time. No matter their colors, once a tie-dye shirt is set and has had the excess dye removed, it will not bleed. 

You can wash many tie-dye shirts at the same time without problem. This is the preferred method of many tie-dye businesses as it saves time and water.

Do tie-dye shirts need to be washed separately?

After the shirt has been washed one time you can wash it with regular clothes without worry. You do not need to wash the tie-dye shirt separately assuming that the shirt has been properly rinsed. You can wash them with regular clothes and you can wash them with other tie-dye shirts.

Do you wash tie-dye with soap/detergents?

Yes, using detergent is a good practice as it helps remove the last remaining bits of runoff dye. There are even specialty detergents that are made specifically for the purpose of washing tie-dye shirts with extra protection from back staining and color fading. What we recommend is to use a small quantity of regular clothing detergent when washing the tie-dye shirt.

Can tie-dye shirts go in the dryer?

Yes they can. The dyes we use are the same as many industrial clothing manufacturer. It means that if you do it for a regular shirt, you can do it with a tie-dyed shirt! Once the shirt has been washed it is just like a regular shirt in the sense that you can then wash it and dry it the same way you would for any other similar piece of clothing. Let’s say you tie-dye shirt is made from cotton, then you will dry them the same way you dry your other cotton shirts.

Will tie-dye ruin my washer?

No it won’t! The dyes are perfectly fine and safe. The washer will drain out any dyed water and you should be good to go. If you want to be extra careful, do not put in white clothes right after washing a large batch of fresh tie-dyes. We have seen rarely that some colored water droplets may stay on the surface of the washing machine drum, and can possibly stain other clothes.

If you see colored water droplets in the washing machine after you have washed a tie-dye shirt, you should try not to put in white clothes, and rather should make the next washing batch be with dark colored clothes. This problem does not typically happen and will only be seen if you have not rinsed the shirt enough during the tie-dye process.

Best practices and care instructions

Simply wash inside-out with cold water. Tumble dry at medium to low heat. This is it, you don’t need to do special tricks to keep your tie-dye looking good, the dyes you use are professional grade and permanent, they will stay bright forever.

There are some things that can affect the brightness of the colors, those things are typically chemical processes that can affect the fibers themselves. For example, if you leave a tie-dye shirt outside in the sun for days at a time, the ultraviolet rays of the sun will affect the fabric and can cause a washed and faded effect on the colors. Some people use this effect to make tie-dye shirts that have a nice softer color scheme.