How to Make a Dirt Shirt

Dirt shirts are a fun project to add color to your plain white T-shirts. Dirt shirts turn white T-shirts into unique colors produced by soil. Places such as Costa Rica and Hawaii sell dirt shirts made with the native soil. The dirt provides an all-natural way to dye shirts. Create these shirts with your children and explain the science behind dying clothes for an educational experience.

Things You'll Need

  • White cotton T-shirt
  • Detergent
  • 1 cup soda ash
  • 1 gallon warm water
  • Light and dark soil
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • Clothesline

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Wash your white cotton shirt in the washer with detergent. Dry it.

Pretreat your shirt with soda ash. Soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. Buy it at a pool supply store. Add 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of warm water. Soak the shirt for one hour. Remove the excess water from the shirt by wringing it out in your sink.

Gather your mud. Use a mud hole outside or bring in dirt and place it in your sink. If you are making your own mud, add enough warm water to give the mud a thin consistency. Make 1 gallon of mud for each T-shirt.

Add 1 cup of vinegar to the mud. Submerge the shirt in the mud. The shirt needs to soak for at least four hours.

Rinse the shirt with clear cold water. Hang the shirt on your clothesline to dry.

Wash your mud shirt in cold water. The washing machine will remove some of the mud. Place the shirt in a hot dryer to set the mud into the T-shirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tie the shirt into knots with rubber bands to create a tie-dye dirt shirt.
  • Dye your dirt shirt in the mud two to three additional times to create a darker brown color.


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