How to Wash Tie Dye Without Bleeding? (Safe & Effective)

Some people love the bright colors and patterns of tie dye fabric, while others prefer simple clothing without fancy colors.

Either way, the dyeing process requires a lot of hard work and patience.

These days, most people just throw their tie dye fabric into the washing machine without even knowing the drawbacks, and then they realize only when something goes wrong.

If you want your fabric to last as long as possible, you should try to wash it the right way

In this article, you will learn how to wash a tie-dye fabric to make it last longer.

Should you use detergent when washing tie dye for the first time?

Everything you intend to color (Dye) should be washed in a single operation with a small amount of detergent.

While doing so, stay away from fabric softeners or dryer sheets as they can cause the fabric to become unstable.

By washing the fabric first, the cloth is cleaned of any possible residue. And if it is fresh and new, it will shrink a bit to its original size.

However, if the fabric is already dyed just fill up the washing machine with, the fabric and mild detergent for the very first wash. Just make sure to use your washer’s gentle setting.

If your washer does not have a gentle cycle setting, It is perfectly fine to use the standard wash cycle as long as you can control the spin settings.

After the washer cycle is complete, simply remove the shirt and let the fabric air-dry.

It is recommended to use hot water to ensure that the color is set.

High-Heat helps the color to settle down (kind of makes the fabric more predictable post wash).

With that said, always wash tie dye in cold water once the hot water wash is completed, this helps to prevent the dye from fading further.

Clothes that are washed in hot water are more likely to bleed, so it is important to let the dye settle first and then wash it once with hot water.

So, the hot water wash should be done only once to allow the color to settle.

How to wash tie dye without bleeding for the first time?

If you are concerned about color bleed or color cracking, hand-washing tie dye garments is a must.

Tie-dye can be quite fragile, so it is important to wash tie-dyed garments in water that is not too hot or too cold.

The first wash for tie-dye apparel begins with a fast rinse and soak in a vinegar and water solution after completing the soaking part. It must then be washed in hot water with detergent before drying.

Instructions to hand-wash tie-dyed clothing

Step 1: Wear Protective Gloves

Strong stains from fabric dye may stay on your skin for several days.

Therefore, it is important to wear gloves to protect your hands from the dye.

Wearing thick rubber gloves that extend past your wrists can prevent these stains.

Step 2: Rinse and Soak in Vinegar

Make sure the fabric is rinsed under cold water until the loose dye has been removed.

After first rinsing the dye off your clothes, soak your tie dye for approx. 30 minutes in a solution made of vinegar and cold water.

Note: You must move on to step 2 only when the dye has completely settled. For the dye to fully settle down, your cloth requires enough time in the dye (Preferably 24 hours). So, it’s best to soak the fabric in the dye for the entire night.

Step 3: Wash your Clothes in Hot Water

Now, run your clothes under warm water.

Make sure to wear gloves as the hot water may get your hands burnt.

The length of your rinse time may vary depending on the fabric.

Step 4: Dry the Fabric

Once you’ve finished washing your tie-dye shirt, it’s time to hang it to dry. This will lock in the color and prevent it from bleeding.

Avoid wet clothing sitting in the dryer for too long (if you are using a dryer), as this will contribute to bleeding.

How to Machine Wash Tie-Dye Clothes without bleeding?

instructions to machine wash tie dye without bleeding

As a general rule of thumb, Always turn your tie-dyed clothing inside out before washing to preserve the colors, and use cold water and gentle cycle settings. Furthermore, to prevent color bleeding, don’t leave the clothing in the washer for too long after the cycle is complete.

With that said, here’s the detailed step-by-step process to machine wash tie-dye clothes without bleeding.

Instructions to Machine Wash Tie-Dye Clothes

Step 1: Pre-Wash Tie Dye

The First step is to pre-wash your tie-dye clothes in cold water so that the excess dye can be removed.

Step 2: Put the clothes in the washer

Next, put the pre-washed clothes in the washer.

Step 3: Pour synthrapol detergent

Now, pour 2 tablespoons of Synthrapol detergent into the washer.

Note: Synthrapol should ideally be used only in top-load washers as they are highly concentrated and will produce lots of suds. So, if you have a front-load washer, use regular detergent instead.

Step 4: Set the Right Wash Cycle

If your washing machine has cold water and a gentle cycle setting, choose that option.

Step 5: Run the Wash Cycle

Now, hit the start button and wait for the washer to complete the wash cycle.

Just make sure that the wash cycle that you chose is shorter.

Step 6: Air Dry the fabric

The last step is to remove the clothes from the washer and air-dry them naturally.

How to wash a tie-dye shirt for the first time with vinegar?

Washing a tie-dye in vinegar is fairly simple and does not require any special procedure.

Just start by, pouring two cups of vinegar into a container OR a sink filled with cold water.

The sink or a container should be big enough to accommodate the tie-dye.

Next, Sprinkle a bit of table salt or sea salt and mix the solution thoroughly.

Once the solution is mixed add the fabric into the solution and let them soak for at least one hour.

Then, Wring out the cloth after removing it from the bucket or basin.

Finally, proceed with either a hand wash OR a machine wash approach.

Helpful tips to wash and keep your tie-dye in good condition

When washing a tie-dyed garment, you have to take special care to avoid bleeding.

The dye can damage the fabric, and if you use the wrong laundry products, it can cause the fabric to bleed.

Here are some effective tips to keep your tie-dye in good shape.

Avoiding certain laundry products

Using specific detergents can prevent bleeding and damage to your tie-dyed shirt.

Pre-treatment products like fabric softeners may ruin your tie-dyed shirt.

You should always wash your tie-dyed shirt in cold water, without using detergents containing bleach or fabric softener.

Wash In Cold Water

To avoid the risk of dye bleeding, you should wash tie-dyed shirts with cold water and never leave them in the washer for an extended period of time. If you do, your tie-dye shirt may bleed and stain other clothing, so always remove it from the washer as soon as it’s washed.

Avoid Bleach and Harsh Detergents

You should also avoid washing tie-dyed shirts with bleach and harsh detergents.

Use Synthrapol liquid detergent

Synthrapol is a great dye remover, and it will prevent the loose dye molecules from latching onto your other garments.

It won’t completely prevent color bleeding, but it will help you achieve the results you want.

Moreover, Synthrapol is effective on all fabrics, including silk and cotton.

Use a pH-neutral detergent

Another way to avoid bleeding is to use a pH-neutral detergent.

This type of detergent will help keep the tie-dyed clothing’s color from bleeding, as it does not contain bleach.

These types of detergents are best for hand-dyed clothing and are also gentle on silk and wool.

Use Salt and Vinegar

To prevent your tie dye from fading you can make use of Salt.

Simply, add salt and vinegar solution to a bucket of water and soak the tie-dye for an hour before washing it. This is an old but effective method to keep the dye from bleeding.

Always Air Dry

Whenever possible air-dry your tie-dye.

If you like to use dryers, consider using them in a medium or low heat setting.

With that said, we don’t recommend drying your tie-dye in a dryer.

Final Thoughts

Although it can be fun, tie dying should always be done properly.

If you accidentally put your dyed items together with the regular loads, there is always a risk of ruining the garments that go with your dyed items.

Furthermore, to prevent the loose dye from staining other items, you can turn the tie-dyed fabric and other apparel inside out before putting them in the washing machine.

With all that said, as a best practice, after the wash cycle is complete, it’s a good idea to take your clothing from the washer right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wash tie-dye in the washing machine?

Yes, Tie-Dyed fabrics can certainly be washed in a washing machine. However, For the first few washes, you might need to wash the tie-dyed clothing separately as the color may bleed.

Should a tie-dye shirt be washed after it is dyed?

After dyeing your garment, wait for at least 24 hours before washing them. This allows the dye to settle and dry.

Is salt helpful in setting tie-dye?

Salt is not a dye fixative on its own, however, when it mixes with water and a bit of vinegar it certainly helps to set the dye up to a certain extent. So, salt on its own does not set the dye.

Can I wash tie-dye shirts together?

Yes, once the excess dye is removed, you can wash multiple tie-dye shirts together. It’s important to remove the excess dye in order to prevent color bleeding.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)