How to Make a Dirt Shirt

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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

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.


Step 1

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

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Step 2

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.


Step 3

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.

Step 4

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


Step 5

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

Step 6

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.


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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