How to tie-dye at home, according to this Miami expert

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil
USA Editor
Tie Dye t-shirt
Photograph: Shutterstock

Tie-dying clothes at home ranks high on most people’s list of social-distancing activities. Besides puzzles, it seems to be the single offline thing many of us are curious about trying now that we have all this free time on our hands. But where do you even begin?

We don’t have a clue, so we asked an expert: Andrea Carneiro of Live & Let Dye, a Miami-based apparel and accessories line dedicated to all things pigmented and colored. She specializes in sweatshirts and beach tees, but has hand-dyed everything from shorts and sweatpants to reusable cotton totes and scrunchies. Below, she shares a few easy-to-follow tips and some product suggestions for what you’ll need to get started. You know that pile of white tees you’ve been rotating as part of your WFH wardrobe? Now might be the time to change things up.

Essential tie-dye tips

Prep your items

You want to make sure everything is washed and clean. For most dyes, you don’t really have to pre-treat, but be sure that the tee (or whatever it is) is damp, not dripping wet. If it’s too wet, the colors will blur together.

Remember your art lessons

If you want to overlap colors stick to primaries, you’ll get the cleanest color results. Never mix secondary colors or you’ll get mud.

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Don’t be afraid of white space

It’s tempting to just load on the color, but leaving some white space between colors can give you some very cool patterns. Also, think beyond the spiral. Place the color in circles or stripe it down the length of the shirt.

Be patient

Wrap your items in a plastic bag or saran wrap while it’s still damp and leave it be for 18-24 hours to get the best color results! Then rinse in cold water until it runs clear, remove your rubber bands and rinse some more, and finally wash on cold by itself (or with other tie-dye) for its first wash.

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What to buy

For color options:

This Tulip Kit is perfect because it includes a ton of colors and everything you need to have a tie-dye party (even just by yourself).

To change the pattern:  

If you want to try something cool order a spray dye. It’s super easy to use (just make sure you read the directions!) and creates really bright, summer-y pieces.

Easy tees to dye: 

Gildan tees are fantastic for dyeing! They’re cheap but still good quality, have a cute boxy fit and are super comfortable. If you’re tired of tees, the Hanes tanks are awesome too.

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To avoid a mess:

Color Catchers are my secret weapon for not getting dye all over everything in the wash! They soak up all the excess color.


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