How to Tie-Dye Shoes

Instead of settling for someone else's idea of cool shoes, make your own by tie-dyeing plain shoes with your favorite color combinations. Select shoes made from natural materials such as cotton, hemp or canvas; otherwise, the dye may not adhere. Select fabric dyes especially made for tie-dyeing for optimal results.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tablecloth

  • Powdered tie dyes in spray bottles

  • Water

  • Paper towels

  • Plastic bag or plastic wrap

Part 1: Work Space Setup

Step 1

Cover a work area with a plastic tablecloth or sheet of plastic to protect it from dye.

Step 2

Remove the laces from the shoes -- if they have any -- and set the shoes atop the plastic.

Step 3

Mix the dye powders with warm water according to package directions, which may vary by brand. If using tie dye powders that come in plastic bottles, fill up each color bottle with water; replace the lids, and shake the bottles to mix them. Keep paper towels and a plastic bag handy for cleanup later.

Part 2: Dyeing the Shoes

Step 1

Choose a color for the toes or front of each shoe. Shake the appropriate dye color bottle; then spray the dye liberally in the desired area: A thin, quick spritz creates a somewhat light shade, while repeated sprays make the dye darker.

Step 2

Repeat the process with another color, slightly overlapping the first shade. The colors blend a bit as you overlap them; for instance, overlapping red and yellow creates orange.

Step 3

Continue spraying the colors liberally over the shoes until they're completely dyed in a variety of colors. If you wish to dye the shoelaces, use laces that are made of natural fibers as well, such as cotton. Note: Many shoelaces are made from synthetic fibers that will not receive fabric dye.


To create bands or lines of color as in some forms of tie dye, spray the shoes with one light color; place rubber bands around the wet area; then spray another color over the rubber bands. Removing the rubber bands reveals the original dye color underneath.

Part 3: Post-Dyeing

Step 1

Wipe any dye from the sides of the soles using damp paper towels; the dye doesn't adhere to rubber or plastic well, so it should come off easily.

Step 2

Place the shoes in a plastic bag or wrap them in plastic to let the dye set for 4 to 6 hours, or as recommended on the dye package. Some brands may recommend air-drying instead.

Step 3

Rinse the shoes in cool water until the water runs clear,; then dry them out in a non-humid location before wearing them.