How to Dye White T-Shirts

There are many reasons for dyeing clothing.
White t-shirts can be dyed any color to give your wardrobe a lift.White t-shirts can be dyed any color to give your wardrobe a lift.
White t-shirts are often cheaper than other colors. You can stretch your budget by buying several white t-shirts on sale and dye them yourself. Shirts that have been stained or discolored can be dyed a darker color and worn again. Look for fabric dye in the aisle where you buy laundry detergent at your local grocery store. Craft stores often sell dye as well.

Step 1

Wash the t-shirt with laundry detergent in the washing machine or by hand, but do not dry. Remove any stains with color remover following the directions on the package.

Step 2

Test the fabric first to make sure the shirt can be dyed successfully. Cut a small piece of fabric from the seam, pocket, or hem of the t-shirt. Dye the fabric swatch and examine it before you proceed to dye the shirt.

Step 3

Dye the t-shirt by hand. Dissolve the fabric dye in just enough hot water to cover the shirt. Add the wet t-shirt to the dye and water solution. Let the t-shirt sit in the dye bath for 20 to 30 minutes. Check the shade of the shirt. If it is not dark enough, add more dye to the hot water, put the t-shirt back in and let it sit another 20 to 30 minutes. Keep the water hot during the whole process. Rinse in cold water until no dye is left in the water. Squeeze the shirt out gently, then hang it up to dry.

Step 4

Dye the t-shirt using the washing machine method. Fill the washing machine with just enough hot water to cover the shirt. Dissolve the fabric dye in one liter of hot water. Add the solution to the washing machine. Place the wet t-shirt into the dye bath. Make sure the shirt is completely covered.

Step 5

Run the shirt through the normal wash cycle. Run the cycle again for darker colors. Set the normal rinse cycle using cold water. Put the shirt through the spin cycle.

Things You Will Need

  • White t-shirt
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • 1 package color remover (optional)
  • 1 package fabric dye
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Dryer (optional)
  • Bleach (optional)

Tip

  • Fabrics made with acrylic or polyester may not dye well.

Warnings

  • Set the washing machine to the normal cycle and clean it with hot water, laundry detergent and bleach immediately after use.
  • Clean the lint screen of the dryer and the lids and exteriors of both machines immediately after use with bleach.

About the Author

Kelly O'Brien Ritchie has been a writer since 1998. She has contributed to the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, Sarnia Historical Society and community newspapers. Ritchie managed her own business for eight years and studied corporate communications at Centennial College.