How to Change the Color of a T-Shirt

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Change the color of your T-shirt by dyeing it at home.
Change the color of your T-shirt by dyeing it at home. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Changing the color of your favorite T-shirt is a simple process you can do at home. Select from a variety of dye colors to make the shirt fit into your wardrobe. After dyeing, washing and drying, you'll have a fresh-colored T-shirt that appears new. You may even decide to change the color of other articles of clothing so everything matches.

Things You'll Need

  • Colored dye
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic spoon
  • Bucket
  • Washer
  • Laundry soap
  • Dryer
  • Bleach
  • Sponge

Dissolve dye powder, drops or tablets into 2 cups of hot water. Stir the mixture with a plastic spoon until incorporated. Fill a bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. Add the dye mixture to the water and stir with a plastic spoon. Many dyes work for every 3 gallons of water for every 1 pound of clothing. If you need more liquid for your shirt to soak freely, add another 3 gallons of water. You'll also need to add another portion of pre-dissolved dye.

Plunge your T-shirt into the colored hot water. Continue to stir your T-shirt, moving it up and down so all creases absorb the dye. Stir the T-shirt for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how dark you want the color.

Dump the water out of the bucket and replace with fresh warm water. Wash the T-shirt in the water for several minutes. Repeat this step, using cooler water the second time. Continue to hand-rinse the T-shirt in cool water until color stops dripping from the fabric.

Wash the T-shirt as you normally would in your washing machine with mild detergent. During the first wash, you may want to wash the T-shirt by itself or pair it with similar colors in case it bleeds.

Dry the T-shirt in your dryer, or hang dry it outside or in the shower. After this initial washing and drying stage, the color will be set and you can wash the T-shirt with your normal load.

Scrub the bucket with diluted chlorine bleach. Use a capful of bleach and fill the bucket with warm water. Rub the inside and outside with a sponge to remove excess fabric dye.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fabric dyes, available in the laundry aisle, come in a rainbow of colors. Keep in mind that darker-colored T-shirts, like navy blue or black, may be difficult to change to a different color. If your T-shirt is a light color, it will be easier for you to change to another light color or to a dark color.
  • Various types of material absorb fabric dye differently. Cotton adapts well to dye, while you may need to dye synthetic T-shirts several times to get the color you desire.
  • You can also color your T-shirt in your kitchen sink if it is easier than using a bucket. Dye manufacturers often provide additional instructions in the packaging for dyeing your clothing in a washing machine.
  • Colored dye can splatter onto your clothing. Before coloring your T-shirt, change into an old pair of clothes or put on a poncho. Even a small splash of dye can discolor the clothes you are wearing. Wear disposable gloves to protect your hands.

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