after care instructions for a freshly tie-dyed t-shirt?

Name: Teresa


Jacquard tie dye kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Dye up to 15 adult-size T-shirts, with vivid, electric colors that are so colorfast they can be washed with the daily laundry. Contains excellent Procion MX dyes.


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Procion MX Dye

ideal for cotton, rayon, linen, and silk

When mixed with soda ash, Procion dyes are permanent, colorfast, and very washable. You can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues.


Region: Alaska

Message: What are the after care instructions for taking care of a freshly tie-dyed t-shirt?  It's been in a zip-loc bag since it's been done.  I took it out to dry last night,  it's not really dry yet.  Can I wash it like that?

If your shirt was dyed with Procion MX dyes, which are the type of fiber reactive dyes used in most tie-dyeing kits (but not the Rit tie-dyeing kit!), then the next step is easy. It does not matter whether the shirt is still damp. There is no requirement to dry the shirt before washing; in fact, the longer the shirt can stay damp during the dye reaction, the better, preferably no less than overnight.

First, wash it in cool water, either one cycle in the washing machine, without detergent, or rinse it out in the sink with cool water until the water's not very dark. If your shirts have been sitting in a warm place (70°F or warmer) overnight, or longer, then it will be safe to dump any number of shirts into the washing machine together for the first rinse, if this is more convenient for you, and you can untie the shirt before beginning to rinse. The first rinsing step is to remove the soda ash and any other auxiliary chemicals, plus some of the excess dye. Second, wash in the hottest water available, either in the washing machine or by soaking it, with detergent. Ideally your water should be very hot, 140°F or higher; some hand dyers use nearly boiling water, since it is more efficient. Hot water works much better than warm water for removing the last bits of unattached excess dye. It's typical to have to repeat the hot water wash twice, if you're not using extremely hot water.

If your shirt has been at a temperature below 70°F, then I recommend that you wait to rinse it. Keep the freshly dyed shirt damp (wrap it in plastic again) in a warm place overnight, before rinsing it out. The dyes do not work at all well under 70°F (that's 21°C). It's okay if the shirts are warmer than 70°F. Under 70°F, some of the colors will work, but others, particularly turquoise, will tend to be very pale.

If your shirt was dyed with all-purpose dye, such as Rit dye or Tintex dye, then the dye will not stay bright very long, and dark colors will tend to transfer onto lighter colors, even in the first washing. Thoroughly rinse a Rit-dyed shirt separately, in cool water, before untying it, and then treat it with some Retayne or another commercial dye fixative (not salt or vinegar), preferably again before untying it, in order to increase washfastness. Never use warm or hot water to wash Rit-dyed clothing. I do not recommend the use of all purpose dyes like Rit for tie-dyeing.

There are many good brands of tie-dyeing kits. The best ones are the Jacquard Products brand kits, including the Funky Groovy Tie-dyeing kit, and the kits sold by dye specialists such as PRO Chemical & Dye or Dharma Trading Company. You can also get good results with Tulip, Rainbow Rock, and Dylon tie-dyeing kits. Just avoid any sort of all-purpose dyes, such as Rit or Tintex dye, because they do not work well for tie-dyeing.

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Posted: Friday - May 14, 2010 at 10:54 AM          

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