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Basic Dye Method

This is the method that is commonly used in tie dyeing, but that’s not all it’s good for! This is a good starting point to create a bunch of different variations of dye methods! 


  • Synthrapol (a professional detergent)
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Soda ash
  • Water
  • Funnel
  • Procion dye
  • Urea
  • Bottles for dye
  • 100% cotton fabric or clothing

1. Prewash your item in hot water with Synthrapol. This removes any sizing, oils or dirt that can prevent dye from sticking.

2. Using your mask and gloves, prepare the soda ash solution in the bucket. Add 1 cup of soda ash per gallon of warm water. Allow to fully dissolve. Helpful tip: 1 gallon can dye up to 12 adult XL tees or only a couple sweatshirts.

3. Soak for at least 15 minutes.

Fabric soaking in bucket of soda ash solution4. Still using your mask and gloves, prepare your dyes. Using the funnel to add 1 Tbsp urea per 1 cup of warm water into the bottles and mix until dissolved. Add in the dye. Use more or less dye depending on how deep you want the color. I use dyes from Dharma Trading, which recommend approximately 2 tsp per cup of urea/water solution (dyes indicated with * or ** need 4 or 8 tsp respectively). Allow the dye to fully dissolve to prevent weird color spots on your fabric. Helpful tip: 1 damp t-shirt can absorb about ½ cup of prepared dye

5. Apply dye in your preferred method. Try out some different techniques!

Applying blue tie dye with a bottle
6. After dying, keep moist in a plastic bag for 24 hours. See here to see why 24 hours is recommended.

7. Rinse under cold running water (still tied if applicable) until the water runs clear. Untie if necessary and run under warm water until the water runs clear again.

Blue tie dye under stream of water from faucet

8. To fully remove all excess dye soak the fabric in a bath of the hottest water possible (boiling water is okay for cotton) for about an hour (careful not to burn yourself!). Drain and give the fabric a quick rinse. Repeat until the soak water is mostly clear (a slight tinge is okay). This may take 3-4 times.

9. Fill your washing machine on hot cycle with 1/8 to 1/4 cup of Synthrapol. Add up to 8 adult shirts at a time and wash through a full load. Dry as normal.

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October 7, 2020 3:18 am

What if my washing machine isn’t connected to hot water? And does it matter if the machine is HE or not?

October 7, 2020 11:07 am
Reply to  Lindsey

Okay! That is awesome! That hot water wash was discouraging me from trying.

October 7, 2020 11:42 am
Reply to  Lindsey

Is the synthrapol necessary? If I don’t do step 9?