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Setting the Dye When Making Tie-dye Clothing

Category How To
Swirl pattern tie dye shirt.
When making tie-dyed clothing an important step before you finish the project is to set the dye. This is a guide about setting the dye when making tie-dye clothing.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 10, 20130 found this helpful

I purchased a few hand, tie-dyed tablecloths in China and they bleed very badly! They were done in a small village. How can I set the dye in such a large pieces of fabric. Some are a dark blue and another is orange.


People I know that have purchased them, say the color washes out very dramatically, so they must be washed alone, separately. They do, however, maintain the dark blue color along with the lighter pattern (that is "tied in") remaining as well.

Also, I have a front loading machine that doesn't use a lot of water. Is there a way to set the dye in a large tub or large stainless steel sink? Then wash it in the front loading machine. Or, do I have to go to a laundromat and use a tub machine that fills with a large quantity of water.

By Jan D from St. Paul, MN

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March 19, 20130 found this helpful
Best Answer

You might try the cold water and salt routine - in a large bucket or whatever, fill with cold water and a pound or so of table salt (one of those round boxes). Dissolve the salt, then soak the table cloth in the salt water for an hour or so. Then wash in cold water to rinse out the salt, and dry as usual. Not knowing for sure what the dye is, makes it a little tricky. Good luck!

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March 19, 20130 found this helpful
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The dye is probably indigo same dying as for the jeans. You can try to soak your tablecloth in white vinegar when you rinse it. Hope this helps.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 24, 2007

Does anyone know the best way to keep the dye set after doing home Tie-dye t-shirts? I've heard something about salt and something about vinegar. Any other ideas? If using salt or vinegar, how do I use them?

Thanks for input!
Rebecca from IA

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April 24, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Approx. 1/2 cup salt in cold water wash cycle. This step can be repeated as an added safeguard if dark or vibrant colors are used.

Here's another tip that I've used:


Put white vinegar & water (50/50) in your steam iron turn garment inside out and steam press thoroughly place garment in dryer to finish.

*Be sure to run an extra cycle to ensure dye residue doesn't remain in your washer & ruin the next load

*Try placing freshly dyed items in an old pillowcase in the dryer the first time

During regular wear, I find it helps prevent fading to launder darks & dyed garments inside out (in cold water).

Lastly, depending on fabric type, there are some good commercial products available.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 15, 2009

How do you set tie dye?

By slsmith512 from Angleton, TX

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June 15, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

It's really all about the dye you use in the first place. Never use "Rit" because it's a "fugitive" dye (like indigo or blue jeans are) That means it fades with washing & from sunshine. The best brand is Procion. It stays true & bright. It's a "Fiber reactive dye". Fiber reactive dyes, like Procion MX, bond with the fiber at a molecular level, becoming chemically part of the fabric. This is the brand that professional tye-dyers use! Read more about it at this URL:


Procion: The Best Dye for Tie Dying

* If you've already dyed your things, then by all means heat-set your dyed fabric. Either with an iron or in a very hot dryer. When you heat set be careful you don't damage your ironing board with dye. Put an open paper bag over the ironing board Then another one over the tie-dye to help absorb any extra dye. Don't use newspaper or the ink will get on your tie-dye & the ironing board. Also each time you wash your item put about half a cup of any kind of Vinegar in the rinse water. The Vinegar helps set the dye, but nothing takes the place of a quality dye.

Another dye that's fun for kids is "Sun Painting" with "InkoDye". This special dye goes on clear then turns bright & permanent with the UV rays from the sun (or you can use it inside with heat). With this solar dye you have to use only 100% cotton or rayon fabrics. This is really fun to do outside on the lawn with kids (in their old bathing suits). You can either dip the fabric into the dye or use a paintbrush to apply it for a different look. This dye isn't as bright as or as permanent as the Procion I mentioned above but the kids love the magic of painting it on clear & watching the color come to life before your eyes! The coolest thing to do with kids is buy a 100% cotton flat sheet at the thrift store & let the kids have their way with it, paining their own colorful sheet!

"Jacquard" is another quality company. They sell kits of their colors at Joann's fabrics & you can use the 40% off coupon. Here's one of their products. It looks, feels & works like a dye, but it's actually a paint:

"Tea Juice Markers" are also a fun way to go (especially for kids) They need to be heat set with an iron before wearing:


For complete directions on anything about dying, search the web site or call them, these guys are super-friendly & know everything about dyes!

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June 14, 20130 found this helpful

I used Jacquard brand of tie dye for my swimming suit. I've had it sitting for 15 hours. I tried to rinse a small part of it and it seems the dye is coming right out. Is there something I didn't do right? Should I use salt or vinegar when I rinse? Please help!

By Amy

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July 31, 20130 found this helpful
Best Answer

Most of the Jacquard brand of dyes require heat or chemical setting. Check the package directions. Some color will come out even after treatment. It may be as simple as putting the suit in the dryer to heat treat it. Also be aware not all dyes work on all fabrics.

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July 14, 20050 found this helpful

My grandchildren have already tie-died some cotton shirts. They are dry. Now, what do I soak them in to set the colors? I remember something about using salt in solution, but have no idea how much to use or if there is something better to soak them in.

Thanks for any advice.

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July 15, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am a quilter and we set dark colors with a vinegar rinse. Use white vinegar, a cup per gallon cool water, soak each shirt 15 minutes, then rinse out by hand and dry out of sun. Sun will bleach any color. I hang them over a sink on a plastic hanger after ringing them out by hand and flattening into shape again.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 2, 2015

My daughter did some food colouring tie dye yesterday and just loves the bright colours. We did not wash out the dye after, instead we put the clothing on the line to dry and then in the dryer to hopefully set the colours. We did firstly rinse the item in cold salty water. So my question is how can I make the colours hold their brightness? We do not want this to wash out if that is possible. Thanks.

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June 7, 20140 found this helpful

How much salt and vinegar do you use for one shirt?

By Rose S.

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July 15, 20130 found this helpful

The colour of my new tie dye dress bleeds on my skin, how do I fix it?

By Franke

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