Rinsing, Washing, And Caring For Your Tie-dye (Explained)

Whether it’s a tie-dye shirt you plan on making or one that you just bought, washing and caring is the source of many questions.

People are sometimes afraid of having tie-dye in their wardrobe. They simply don’t know what to do with them. I’ll show you that there is nothing to be scared of.

In this article we take a look at how to properly rinse tie-dye fabric so it doesn’t bleed. We then see how easy it is to wash and care for.

Table of Contents

Rinsing your tie-dye properly

You’ve dyed a garment and let it set for 24 hours. Now comes the time to rinse off the excess dye. This is best done in the sink or bathtub. The whole process can take 5-10 minutes to get most of the excess dye off.

1. Bring your shirt to the sink
Bring your tie-dye item to the sink. It should still be damp at this point. Keep the rubber bands on for now.

2. Start rinsing under cold water
Turn on the tap on cold. Place your shirt directly under the running water. You should see colored water run off the shirt. Rotate and move the shirt to expose all its exterior surface to the water.

3. Open up the shirt
Slowly, start removing the rubber bands. Continue rinsing while doing so. Open up the shirt, exposing its interior to the cold water. You will start seeing glimpses of your tie-dye design. It’s normal to feel excitement at this point.

4. Turn the shirt inside out
While rinsing, unfold the shirt. Turn the shirt inside out to expose its interior to the water. 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 until the water runs clear.

5. Let the shirt soak in hot water
When the water runs clear, plug up your sink and let it fill up with hot water. Use enough water to submerge the fabric. Let the shirt soak for a few minutes so the water penetrates deep into the fibers. This will dislodge any remnants of dye.

6. Wring out the shirt
After the shirt is fully rinsed you can wring it out. Remove excess water and get ready to place your tie-dye in the washing machine.

How long to wait before rinsing?

After dyeing you need to wait 8 to 24 hours for the dye to set. At this point the fabric will be saturated with color. After waiting you can then rinse off the excess dye that isn’t attached. Don’t wait too long, you don’t want your shirt to dry up.

Should you rinse with hot or cold water?

Always rinse with cold water first. Cold water interrupts the dye reaction and prevents its from staining the fabric. Use cold water until most of the dye is dislodged.

Rinse cold until there is no excess dye remaining. Clear running water is your cue to increase the temperature. Warm water is used last to open up the pores. It let’s you release the last bits of unused dye.

How to prevent backstaining when rinsing?

Backstaining is the redeposition of dye particles on the shirt during the rinsing process. This happens when water picks up active dye and deposits it on another part of the fabric.

My favorite technique is to dunk the shirt in a bucket of cold water. I quickly untie and open the shirt underwater. This stops the reaction in its tracks and immediately prevents the dye from staining the fabric. It’s like cutting the oxygen to a fire.

Washing your tie-dye for the first time

Rinsing does an amazing job at removing loose particles. But nothing beats the washing machine for making sure that everything is squeaky clean.

Run the shirt through a complete cold cycle in the washer. Throw in some towels, tie-dye shirts or dark clothing. Hot water can also be used if you prefer a deeper cleaning, but this is not necessary.

We need friction between clothes in the washer. The agitation and scrubbing will remove weakly bonded dye molecules.

How to prevent tie-dye from bleeding in the wash?

At this point there is not much risk of bleeding. A shirt that’s been left to soak in hot water during rinsing can be safely washed even with whites.

As long as you rinsed the shirt properly there isn’t any risk of bleeding in the washer. The rinsing serves as a first hand-washing. Any loose dye remaining

Do you wash with soap/detergent?

Yes, using detergent is a good practice as it helps remove the last remaining bits of dye. Detergent breaks the surface tension of water, allowing it to reach deep into the fabric more easily.

Does tie-dye 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 will 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 you wash multiple tie-dye together?

Won’t the colors mix if you wash multiple tie-dye garments at the same time? Assuming the shirts have all been rinsed correctly, you can absolutely wash them all at the same time.

Yes, you can wash multiple tie-dye shirts together assuming they have been rinsed properly. Once a tie-dye shirt is set and has had the excess dye removed, it will not bleed.

Washing multiple tie-dye shirts at the same time is the preferred method of many tie-dye businesses as it saves time and water. When rinsed properly you can even wash your tie-dye with whites without a single stain.

Can you wash tie-dye with regular laundry?

Yes, but we recommend not to include light colors for the first wash. As you gain more experience you will gain confidence and know when you tie-dye is rinsed well enough.

You can wash your tie-dye with any other normal garment after you’ve washed it once by itself. You can include them in your color loads.

Will tie-dye ruin my washer?

Tie-dye will not ruin your washer. The dye itself cannot stain metal. The washing machine drains out any dyed water when the cycle is over. Any remaining water will be so diluted to be unable to stain clothing.

How many times should you wash your tie-dye?

Washing tie-dye once is enough. You can wear your it after a single wash. Most tie-dye businesses will wash their garments multiple times to offer peace of mind. But this is not required.

Caring for your tie-dye

Contrary to popular belief, tie-dye shirts don’t need any special treatment. You can care for them the same way you would with any cotton clothing. Wash cold and hang or tumble dry. The color is resistant to both washing and sun damage.

Wash your tie-dye inside-out to get the most life out of it. Wash it cold and tumble dry or hang dry. You can expect the colors to last as long as the fabric itself.

Can tie-dye shirts go in the dryer?

Yes, tie-dye can go in the dryer, this is the preferred method for fast drying. Hang-drying is also great, as it saves energy.

How to prevent colors from fading?

Tie-dye is naturally resistant to fading and discoloration. The dye used are some of the most resistant on the market. They are washfast and lighfast.

Wash your tie-dye inside out in the washer and keep from leaving it hanging in direct sunlight.

Damage to the fabric will also damage the color. After some time, like any garment, the color will fade slightly because of rubbing in the washer and UV rays from the sun.