How to Make a Tie Dye Shirt Not Run

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You may want to own a tie-dyed shirt but are worried about having to wash it separately so it keeps its pattern after multiple washings. Some dyes bleed, or even stain other clothes, in the laundry, and they may wash out after several washings. But you can use certain dyes and treatments to make sure you don't have to worry about this.

Things You'll Need

  • Soda ash
  • Fiber-reactive dye
  • Retayne dye fixative
  • Prewash the shirt in detergent to get rid of chemicals that may interfere with the dye's setting. Add soda ash to the wash if you will be using a fiber-reactive dye.

  • Avoid all-purpose dye when making the T-shirt. Ritz is such an all-purpose dye. Instead, use a fiber-reactive dye, like Procion. You can find such dyes at a crafts store and at the websites mentioned in Reference 2.

  • Rinse the shirt with a great deal of cold water immediately after you complete the dying process. This dilutes excess dye that would otherwise run (Reference 1).

  • Let the dye set for at least 24 hours after the shirt has completely dried.

  • Fix the dye with Retayne (Reference 2). You can acquire it from PRO Chemical & Dye and from Dharma Trading Company. (This step is optional if you used a fiber-reactive dye.)

  • Machine-wash the shirt a few times alone to get the excess dye out. Afterward, you should be able to machine-wash it in hot water with other clothes with no problem, even without using Retayne.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't use salt or vinegar as a dye fixative. Neither one is effective on cotton or synthetics.
  • Don't reuse any dye containers for foodstuffs. Keep an eye on children while tie-dyeing. They may think the colored water is juice.

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