How to make tie dye shirts with food coloring

Written by isaiah david
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How to make tie dye shirts with food coloring
Tie dye is a vibrant style. (flukesamed/iStock/Getty Images)

Food colouring is a great way for kids to tie dye. Although it does not necessarily hold as well as other sorts of dyes, it is kid-safe and requires little supervision. Soaking the shirts in salt water after tie dying and washing them in cool water will make the dye set a little better, and some people really like the look of a faded tie-dye anyway.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shirt
  • Food colouring
  • Bowls
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Condiment bottles
  • Rubber bands
  • Vinegar

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  1. 1

    Consider using actual clothing dye. Food colouring works well for food, but it can bleed and fade quickly in clothing, and it can only be used with certain fabrics.

  2. 2

    Get a wool or silk shirt. Both of these textiles work fairly well with food colouring. Nylon also usually works well, but it sometimes has a synthetic coating on it that stops it from absorbing the ink. Cotton will not hold food colouring as well.

  3. 3

    Soak the shirt in a mixture of half white vinegar and half water. You can also use water mixed with urea or most other acids. Wring the shirt out.

  4. 4

    Tie knots in the shirt, or twist up parts of it and hold them with rubber bands. This will create bands and spiral patterns in the shirt.

  5. 5

    Mix food colouring and water in bowls or condiment bottles. If you use bowls, dip the shirt in it. If you use condiment bottles, squirt them on the shirt.

  6. 6

    Wrap the shirt in plastic and place it somewhere warm for about 8 hours. You could put it near a heat vent, or under a heating blanket. Be careful to not overheat it, particularly if you are using wool, nylon or something else prone to shrinkage.

  7. 7

    Fill a bath with cool water and add salt, stirring until you can't get any more to dissolve. Wash the shirt in the cool salt water to set the dye.

  8. 8

    Wash and dry the shirt as you normally would. It is now ready to wear.

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