How to Tie-dye Paper


While traditional tie-dying consists of dipping cloth into hot water that has dye dissolved in it, you obviously can't do so with paper because it will tear, fall apart, or both. Instead, you can make paper look like it's tie-dyed using, of all things, shaving cream. It's a simple project for both adults and kids to do and it's useful for making wrapping paper for small gifts, greeting cards, and decorations for parties or school projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle of white shaving cream
  • 8.5-by-11 inch sheet of paper
  • Newspaper
  • Rubber spatula (optional)
  • Food coloring
  • Standard cookie sheet
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swab (optional)


  • Place the lid tightly on your bottle of shaving cream. Holding it upright, shake it five times up and down. Cover your table in old newspaper and place the cookie sheet on top of it. Spray approximately two cups of shaving cream on top of the sheet. You can spray it all in one spot or make a snaking pattern.

  • Use your hands or a rubber spatula to spread the shaving cream so that it covers the entire cookie sheet. It should make a layer about 1/4-inch high. If it doesn't, add more shaving cream as needed.

  • Add five or six drops of food coloring to the shaving cream. Make each dot about 4 inches away from the last. The dots don't have to all be the same color. In fact, it's more interesting when they aren't.

  • Run your fingers or the tip of the spatula through the shaving cream until you have a swirly pattern. Think of a young child finger painting; you want a similar look.

  • Place your sheet of paper on top of the cookie sheet directly in the foam and food coloring. Push down gently; not so much that the foam starts coming up over the sides. Leave it there and count to three.

  • Grab two opposite edges of the paper and lift it up vertically. Place it on the table, dyed side up. Dab at the dye with a paper towel to fill in any gaps in color. Use the corner of a damp paper towel or a cotton swab to remove any excess shaving cream. Let the paper air dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your tie-dyed paper doesn't lie flat, you can iron it once it's dry. Don't use the steam setting or it will get more crinkled.
  • To dye larger sheets of paper, use a larger cookie sheet or any shallow dish you can find.
  • Stick to two or three colors while you're still learning. If you get too crazy you could end up with an unattractive brown or gray when they all mix together.

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