Tie-dying Shirts is a Fun, Creative Outdoor Activity for Everyone

Get your groove on with the whole family this summer! The instructions below are for dyeing white, cotton t-shirts but you can use this same method to dye any cotton cloth such as aprons, tablecloths, baby onesies, bed sheets, and more.


  • Fabric Dye, such as RIT
  • White cotton t-shirt
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber gloves
  • Large pot or bucket
  • Long-handled utensil to stir with
  • Salt
  • Newspaper/plastic sheeting to cover workspace

Note: Remember to read the instructions on the dye that you purchase for any additional items you may need.


  • Put on an apron or smock over old clothes and cover any wood surfaces you are working on with plastic sheeting.
  • Mix Dye and Tie Off Shirt
  • Mix fabric dye according to package instructions in 3-gallon enamel or stainless steel containers (plastic will get stained). Add a cup of salt to the dye mixture to enhance the color.
  • Design! Tie rubber bands tightly around a white t-shirt to design your tie-dye art.


  • Immerse the t-shirt in hot water first, wring it out, and then plunge it into the dye bath. Stir frequently with a stainless steel spoon. Dyeing will take 10-30 minutes depending on how saturated you would like the color to be.
  • If you are using two or more colors dip and hold each section in dye.

Rinse and Dry

  • Remove t-shirt with tongs or a stick and rinse under warm, then gradually cooler water until the water runs clear. (Tip – wear rubber gloves for this part so your hands don’t get dyed.)
  • When you wash your shirt in the laundry for the first time: wash it alone in warm water, rinse it in cold water, then line or machine dry.