How do you reverse tie dye successfully? – Learn Tie-dye Step by Step

How to Tie dye with Bleach - Setting and Care 10 Different Shirt Designs

Tie Dye Setting and Care

Before dyeing, it's important to read the package directions of your particular dye brand to determine the best practices for setting your dye projects since they can vary between brands and fabric types. Along with those steps, here are a few setting options and guidelines to be aware of (and use, as desired) to help you achieve tie dye success.


Vinegar can be used to improve the colorfastness of tie dye projects. For this method, the fabric should be treated after rinsing the dye from the fabric, as follows:

  1. Fill a large bucket with equal parts vinegar and cool water.
  2. Swish the water around a few times to make sure the vinegar and water combine.
  3. Place your tie dye project into the bucket. Allow the fabric to soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the fabric from the bucket and rinse, then proceed with washing.


You can purchase ready-to-use dye fixatives (such as Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative) in the dye aisle of your favorite craft store. Fixatives like these can help to reduce bleeding and fading and even enhance the color of your project. They will typically work well on cotton, linen, silk, wool, ramie, and rayon.

For best results, use according to package directions.


For most basic tie dye brands like Tulip Color, letting the dye sit on the fabric for several hours is key for vibrant colors. To do this, keep the fabric damp after dyeing by wrapping it with plastic for 6 to 8 hours. Once the time is up, rinse the fabric until the water runs clear, remove any rubber bands or binding tools, and wash as directed.

Be sure to carefully read the instructions for the brand you are using so you have a clear idea of the best way to set your project. Dyes for synthetics, for example, will likely have a completely different method for setting because of their fiber make up.


When dyeing with Tulip Color or RIT dyes on natural fibers only, using the microwave can aid in speeding up the dye setting process.

To do this, protect your microwave by lining it with paper towels. Then, wrap your damp dye project in plastic wrap (ensuring that the project is free of any metals like zippers, rivets, etc.), and place it in a microwave-safe container. Next, place your container in the microwave and set on high for 1 minute.

Check after 1 minute to be sure the plastic is not melting, as the power of each microwave can vary. Then, set on high for an additional minute. Watch the fabric closely while it heats. Once the time is up, remove the container from the microwave and let the plastic cool before removing the fabric and rinsing.


Wash your newly tie dyed fabric alone in cold water on a delicate cycle for the first wash. Depending on the dye brand, hot water can cause a significant amount of dye to wash out of the fabric after first dyeing it.

After the first wash, your project can be washed according to the fabric type in a normal cycle, but we do recommend washing dyed items separately for 2 to 3 washes before washing with other laundry to avoid any bleeding onto other clothing items.


Keep in mind that some amount of color change is normal after washing and drying your tie dye projects. However, be sure to review our fabric guide before beginning a project to ensure that you are using the correct fabric type, since all types of fibers will absorb dye differently.


When choosing colors for a project (especially colors that will be next to each other), it's helpful to remember the color wheel! You are more likely to achieve results that aren't muddled if you avoid placing opposite colors next to each other. For example, putting blue near orange or red near green will create browns. If you are unsure of a color palette, stick with all warm colors or all cool colors as you get used to using various dyes. Primary colors are also a safe bet as they tend to mix well.

Preparing Fabrics for Dyeing

Bleach Tie Dye


Prewash fabric in warm, soapy water. This helps to remove any finishes or sizing that may interfere with dye absorption. You can also use a professional textile detergent, like Synthrapol (by Jacquard), which effectively removes oils or dirt that might prevent dye from adhering to the fabric.


Before dyeing, remove any visible stains on the fabric. This will help achieve uniform color results when dyeing.


If you would like ultra-vibrant colors, you may want to treat your fabrics with a soda ash solution prior to dyeing. These can be purchased at your local craft store in the tie dye section and should be applied according to package directions. However, many brands, such as Tulip Color, have one-step dyes that include soda ash in the dye powder, and many all-purpose brands do not require a soda ash treatment in order to achieve vibrant results.


With most projects, we typically prefer to dye fabric that is wet, as it aids in helping the dye to move more deeply into the fabric. It also tends to result in a bit more organic-looking designs. However, if you'd like only the outer edges of a project dyed or want sharper lines, dyeing your project dry will help produce that result.

Fabric Guide

Bleach Tie Dye

In this post we will work with three kinds of fabrics:


Natural fibers in this context refers to cotton, linen, silk, and wool. These fabrics can generally be dyed easily with all-purpose fabric dyes and tie dyes. They can also be bleached easily, resulting in vibrant reverse tie dye results.


If your garment contains less than 35% synthetic material (such as polyester, acrylic, or acetate), and is blended with a natural fiber such as cotton, it can be dyed using all-purpose dyes and tie dyes. It will likely also bleach and reverse tie dye well, although not always with as dramatic of results as natural fibers.


If your garment contains more than 35% synthetic material, it will dye most successfully with synthetic dye and generally will not bleach well. In addition, if your fabric has a waterproof or stain-resistant finish, it can resist wetting by water and will not dye.


We recommend only dyeing fabrics that can be washed in hot water

 Dyes Guide

Bleach Tie Dye

Although this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the types of dyes available, these are our favorite dyes for the beginner and are the kinds of dyes we use in this post. Each of these dyes will help you achieve gorgeous results while being affordable and accessible. They can all be found at major craft retailers.

Tulip Color: 

Tulip Color dye is great because it generally comes in a one-step kit that includes everything you need to make a simple tie dye project (squeeze bottles, rubber bands, and gloves). With most Tulip Color dyes all you have to do is add water and you're ready to go!


A simple bottle of basic bleach can bring out the wild side of colored fabrics, especially 100% cotton! When using bleach you should always wear kitchen gloves, protective eyewear, and an apron, and only apply it in a well-ventilated area.

Natural Dyes: 

Natural sources like avocado pits, turmeric, hibiscus, and more can create gorgeous hues on fabric.

Rit Dye: 

Rit makes liquid and powder dyes, as well as dyes for synthetic fabrics. We like using them when we have a larger project to dye, when we are dip dyeing, or when we want to play with the tone of the color because they are great for mixing.

Fabric Creations Soft Fabric Ink: 

This dye is a powerful little bottle with a gorgeous color line that is great for dyeing natural fibers and synthetics! The main difference with this dye is that it must be set using heat. So, once you have completed a project, you will let the dye dry completely, then set the dye by ironing the item or putting it in a hot dryer.

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