Clothing Care

How to tie dye a shirt

Want to know how to make tie dye shirts and add a swirl of colour to your wardrobe? Read on for these tie dye techniques.

Feeling the summer vibes and want to try out a groovy new look? An old white t-shirt and a few dyes might just be what you need. Learning how to tie dye shirts can be a fun way of recycling your old clothes – and it’s a great activity for getting the whole family involved. So grab a white shirt and make it swirly and colourful with these tried and tested tie dye techniques.

How to make tie dye shirts: what you need

  • Plastic sheets to protect work surfaces
  • Old white t-shirts
  • Rubber bands
  • Gloves
  • Clothes dye
  • Squeeze bottles or pipettes
  • A large bowl or bucket
  • Cups or jars to mix the dye

How to tie dye a shirt

  1. Wash the garment
    Remove any chemicals and substances that may react with the dye by washing it first with a powerful detergent, like Omo.
  2. Decide on the design
    Do you want polka dots, big swirls or rosettes? Decide on the pattern in advance as different patterns require different tie dye techniques. For example, if you want polka dots, you would pinch a small bit of fabric and tie it with a band to form a small circle.
  3. Fold and tie the shirt
    Depending on the design you settled on, fold and tie the shirt. Use the rubber bands to keep the folds in place.
  4. Cover your work surfaces
    Dyeing clothes is best done outside. Cover the work surface with plastic, like a bin bag, and put the tied bundle on top.
  5. Mix the dyes
    Put on your rubber gloves and follow the instructions on the back of the packet to mix the dyes in cups or jars. Pour them into squeezable bottles when ready.
  6. Apply the dye
    Now for the fun part! Using the lighter colours first, use the squeezable bottles to squirt the tie on different sections of the t-shirt. Be liberal with the amount of dye you apply – the more the better!
  7. Set the dye
    Follow the instructions at the back of the packet to set the dye as methods can differ. For some, this can involve leaving the garment to dry in a plastic bag in a warm place for at least 24 hours. For others, this can involve leaving it to soak in warm water that contains dye fixer.
  8. Rinse the garment
    After the dye has set, rinse the garment under a tap until the water runs clear.
  9. Wash your tie dye shirt
    Remove the rubber bands and run a cold wash in the washing machine, making sure that it’s the only garment the machine.

Once your t-shirt is dry, you can finally admire how the pattern has turned out and you can don your new groovy look for summer!

Top Tip


If you have more than one t-shirt you’d like to dye, try out different patterns and designs for each one by tying, folding and scrunching up the fabric in different ways.

Key points:

  • Choose the design you want
  • Prepare and apply the dye
  • Leave to set, then wash