Best Tie-Dye Kits

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best tie-dye kits

Last Updated July 2019

Just for fun, as a fascinating group project, or even to bring back fond memories of the Hippie culture of the 1960s – the art of tie-dyeing fabrics has been popular for generations. Although its popularity has come and gone over the years, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in the craft that can turn plain-looking fabrics into vividly colored artworks.

Modern tie-dyeing is easier than ever because there are now kits that include different colored dyes and accessories to create awe-inspiring T-shirts, socks, dresses, handkerchiefs, and more. So whether you have never tie-dyed before or would like to introduce youngsters to the fun, it’s still a pretty groovy activity.

You can get an easy start by checking out our shopping guide that has the advice and tips for choosing a kit and making your own tie-dyed fashions.

Although the term “tie-dye” was coined in the 1960s, the actual “tie and dye” technique that involves manipulating fabric prior to dying has roots in ancient Peru and Asia. In Indonesia and Japan the technique is called shibori.

How to tie-dye fabric

The coolest aspect of tie-dyeing is creating patterns, including swirls, spirals, streaks, lines, and even hearts. But to achieve the classic tie-dyed look requires bunching, pinching, twisting, and folding portions of the fabric prior to adding the color.

Following are the basic steps commonly used in most tie-dye applications, but keep in mind that some kits have simpler processes and fewer steps. And some require you to heat the fabric with an iron or dryer to secure the dye after processing.

  1. Prepare your work surface. The dye can stain surfaces, so cover your work area with a plastic tarp or cardboard. This will keep your mess and the cleanup to a minimum.

  2. Choose the item you want to tie-dye. While T-shirts are the most common article of clothing used for tie-dyeing, nearly anything can be transformed with this process, providing it’s the type of material that can absorb and set the dye.

  3. Soak the material in the fixer solution. This will help “set” the dye when it’s applied. Follow the included instructions in your kit for appropriate soaking times.

  4. Twist the fabric. This is what makes the recognizable tie-dye shapes and spirals. Some tie-dye kits offer directions for making certain patterns.

  5. Secure the twists. Rubber bands are commonly used for this purpose, and many kits include them.

  6. Prepare the dye. The instructions in your kit will guide you in mixing the dyes.

  7. Apply the dye to your fabric. Most kits include applicator bottles to make this step easier. The amount of time you allow the dye to set will depend on your kit.

  8. Rinse out excess dye. This step completes the process. Now you can see the fun colors and patterns you created.

Easy, beautiful color

If you don’t like the idea of the additional prewash step but still want to create lots of awesome colors and patterns, this is the kit you need. Popular Tulip brand dyes can be applied to fabrics without the hassle of presoaking. The kit includes 12 beautiful, mixable colors, all the accessories you need, and a tarp to protect your work surface.

Tie-dye kit components

Most kits include everything you need for the craft, which makes one a convenient way to tie-dye without having to purchase the items separately. Kit contents vary, but below are some common accessories you’ll find in tie-dye kits.

Dye: This is, of course, the main item in any tie-dye kit. Some kits contain a few colors, other contain several. The best one for you will depend on how many items you want to dye and the effect you’re hoping to achieve.

Fixer solution: This is usually a wash of soda ash that helps to set the dyes. Tie-dye kits that require soaking fabrics in a fixer solution often include this product, but not all tie-dye kits require this step.

Applicator bottles: These containers are used to apply the dye to the fabrics you’re coloring. They typically have pointed tips that make it easy to target specific sections with the colors you choose.

Rubber bands: It’s the twists, folds, and contortions in the fabric that create the classic tie-dye look, and you use rubber bands to hold these folds in place prior to and during the dying process.

Protective gloves: You don’t want your hands – or those of little ones – to end up covered with every color in the rainbow, so gloves are necessary. Most tie-dye kits include gloves.

Instructions: While tie-dyeing isn’t difficult to do, the instructions included in each kit walk you through each step to help you achieve nice results. Many kits also come with a guide for making unique patterns. The instructions in most kits are in pamphlet or booklet form, but some come with a DVD.

EXPERT TIP

To make a shirt with lots of swirls and spirals, secure small twists throughout the fabric. For large, central spirals, twist large portions of material on the front and back of the shirt.


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EXPERT TIP

To keep your tie dyed fabrics looking vibrant, wash them in the gentle cycle with cold water and a gentle laundry detergent or one formulated for colors.


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EXPERT TIP

Some kits come with only the three primary colors – blue, red, and yellow. While this might not seem like a lot, these hues are all you need to mix into any color in the rainbow.


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Tie-dye kit prices

Not only is tie-dyeing fun to do but it’s also a reasonably affordable craft. Although other types of clothing and materials can be dyed, most kits use T-shirts as a guideline for how many articles can be processed.

Inexpensive: For about $6 to $15, you can find kits that include multiple colors of dyes and most of the accessories you need to dye 5 to 8 shirts.

Expensive: If you want to dye more fabrics or need enough dye and accessories for a group, plan on paying around $30 to $36 for kits that can dye 15 to 50 shirts.

Classic name, classic results

Rit is known for quality dyes, so it’s no wonder that this kit produces bright, true colors in all the looks you want with expert results. The dyeing process is easy to do, thanks to the straightforward steps, and the affordable price means this kit is a great choice for beginners, too.

Tips

  • Read your kit’s instructions thoroughly first. Don’t assume you know the steps and mixing process just because you’ve tie-dyed items in the past. All kits are a bit different.

  • Always use new or freshly laundered fabric items. Clean materials set and hold the dyes better than dirty ones. If any piece of clothing you plan to dye has been worn, wash it first to remove any body oils or product residue that could affect the final results. Synthrapol is a detergent designed to clean fabrics prior to dyeing. It helps set colors into the materials and helps to maintain the colors in the dyed fabric.

  • Wear protective gloves and old clothing when tie-dyeing. It’s a messy process! The gloves will keep the dyes from staining your hands. While some kits include disposable gloves, not all of them do.

  • Wash your tie-dyed fabrics separately the first time. This will prevent any excess dye from bleeding onto other clothing. Follow your kit’s instructions when it comes to laundering your creations. This will help the colors stay bright and vibrant.
Tie-dyeing is a fun activity for kids. Add to the excitement by letting them come up with ideas for the different types of clothing they’d like to dye.

FAQ

Q. Are there any types of fabrics that can’t be tie-dyed?

A. Not all materials can be tie-dyed because they either won’t absorb the dye during the process or will fade when washed. Avoid synthetic fabrics and those made of 50/50 blends when choosing items to dye.

Q. What fabrics can I tie-dye?

A. Natural fabrics are ideal for this craft because of how well they absorb and hold dye. While cotton is the most popular choice, rayon, linen, and other natural fabrics work nicely. In addition, fabric that contains a small blend percentage, such as 10% polyester, should also do well with the process.

Q. Do tie-dye kits come with T-shirts for dyeing?

A. Most kits include the accessories and dye you need to make bright-colored fabrics, but you have to supply your own shirts. This enables you to choose the sizes and styles you want to dye.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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