How to Tie Dye Bandanas

Updated July 20, 2017

Tie-dyeing was a funky fad in the 1960s and continues to be popular today. While the many designs and patterns can be intricate, the basic technique for successful tie-dyeing remains the same. Tie-dyeing bandannas is a popular birthday party activity or summer camp craft for children. With proper care, the bandannas will provide years of use.

Lay the bandanna flat on hard surface.

Grasp the centre of the fabric and pull up so the rest of the bandanna drapes from this point.

Secure an elastic band around the bandanna centre roughly 1 inch from the top, making sure the band is as tightly wound as possible.

Wind more elastic bands snugly along the length of the remaining fabric at 1 inch intervals.

Fill as many stainless steel pots with warm water as you need to make individual colours.

Put rubber gloves on your hands before opening dye packets.

Dissolve dye packets in the individual pots to create all of the colours you desire.

Stir the dye with a stainless steel spoon to distribute the colour even throughout the water.

Dip sections of the bandanna into individual colours of dye roughly 1 inch at a time, making sure to really saturate each section. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

Allow bandanna to air dry for 24 hours with the elastic bands in place.

Cut the elastic bands with scissors and remove them from the bandanna.

Flatten the bandanna and dry completely either on a drying rack or in a clothes dryer.


Wash bandannas in cold water with like colours to avoid excess dye staining other garments. Do not use enamel-lined pots; they will absorb the dye.


Touching the dye without gloves may temporarily stain your hands.

Things You'll Need

  • White bandannas
  • Elastic bands
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dye packets in various colours
  • Stainless steel pots
  • Warm water
  • Stainless steel spoon
  • Scissors
  • Drying rack or clothes dryer
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About the Author

Laura Gordon has been writing since 1988. She was the features editor for "The Scarlet" at Clark University. In 1996, Gordon published a thesis entitled "Successful Functioning after Trauma: Positive Correlates of Healing from Treatment Abuse." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Clark University and a Master of Arts in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.