Tie-dye Laundry – Washing and Aftercare (Explained)

Tie-dye shirt in front of a washing machine with its door opened.

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.

In this article we take a look at how to wash and care for tie-dye garments. You’ll learn how to prevent bleeding in the wash and keep your colors fresh forever.

How to wash tie-dye the first time

At this point, I assume you’ve already rinsed your tie-dye under cold water and are ready to throw the shirt in the washing machine.

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 washer cycle on cold. 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.

Adding items to the wash helps with the washing. The friction between clothes removes loose dye particles.

How to prevent tie-dye from bleeding

The single best way to prevent bleeding in the wash is to soak your tie-dye in hot water. This is best done during the rinsing process and before putting your tie-dye in the washer.

Let your tie-dye sit in a hot water bath for a few minutes. After this, rinse out and wring out the fabric. You will notice a lot of excess dye coming off.

Hot water helps loosen partially attached dye particles and opens up the fabric’s pores to let them out. The hotter the water, the greater the effect. But be careful not to burn yourself.

You can repeat this process a few more times if you wish, but a single hot water soak is enough to stop tie-dye from bleeding in the wash.

How to care for your tie-dye garments

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.

How to prevent tie-dye from fading

Tie-dye is naturally resistant to fading and discoloration. The dye used are some of the most resistant on the market. While they are permanent, they are still susceptible to direct sunlight, bleaching agents, and excessive scrubbing.

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. Over the years, like any garment, the color will fade slightly because of rubbing in the washer and UV rays from the sun.

Should you wash tie-dye with detergent?

Yes, using detergent is good practice. It helps remove excess dye more effectively and discourages backstaining.

Detergent keep the dye particles in suspension in the water, preventing them from staining the fabric.

Does tie-dye bleed in the wash?

Freshly made tie-dye shirts will run the most when rinsing. After rinsing and soaking properly, you might still see some color run off the shirt.

It’s normal to see some color rinsing out in the first couple washes. When the fabric gets washed, some unattached dye particles get extracted from deep within the fibers.

You might see that the water in your washer is colored. This is just the extra dye leaving the fabric and is totally normal.

Assuming that you’ve rinsed your tie-dye properly and let it soak in hot water, this colored water will not have any staining power.

Dyes typically stop running completely after a few washes.

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.

How many times should you wash your tie-dye?

Washing tie-dye garments once is enough for home use. But most tie-dye businesses will wash their garments multiple times to offer peace of mind. They usually wash their tie-dye clothing three to five times in hot water to remove any trace of unattached dye particles.

Can you wear your tie-dye after one wash?

Yes, tie-dye is safe to wear after a single wash. The dyes are safe and one wash is enough for you to wear your tie-dye clothing.

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.

Alternatively, you can hang dry your tie-dye garments to save on energy.

Can you wash tie-dye with whites?

Yes. As long as you follow proper rinsing procedure, you can wash your tie-dye with any color clothing, even whites.

A shirt that’s been rinsed and left to soak in hot water can be safely washed with other clothing, even with whites.

Tie-dye garments regularly have white areas as part of their design. The fact you can leave white areas unstained on an actual tie-dye shirt is a testament to this fact.

I would still recommend washing the tie-dye with colored clothing the first few washes to be safe.

Will tie-dye ruin my washer?

Tie-dye will not ruin your washer. The dye itself cannot stain metal. Some dyes even allow you to dye your clothes using the washer itself.

When washing tie-dye garments, the washing machine drains out all dyed water at the end of the cycle.

How to wash dye out of your washer

Use a damp rag or some paper towels to wipe down your washer. While it’s uncommon, there may be specs of dyed water left in your washer. When washing tie-dye shirts, water droplets sometimes get launched onto the walls of the washer drum.