Tie-dye is an age-old dyeing technique that has been around for centuries. It became popular in the 70s when earth and fun-loving hippies donned them to symbolize their love for freedom, independence, and love for all things life.
Childhood is also never complete without a DIY tie-dye project at home or in art class in school. While DIY tie-dyes in childhood were for educational purposes, as adults, you can use the dyeing technique to make old clothes new again, linens livelier with a range of colors, and a whole lot of fabric projects that can turn a drab, old fabric into something new and fun again.
And in the process of tie-dyeing, one of the most important questions to ask is: How long to let the tie-dye sit before rinsing? In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about letting the dye sit in your fabric before sending it into the wash.
Let’s answer this question right away. The length needed for tie-dye to sit before rinsing depends on several factors. It varies by color, fabric, the temperature of the environment, as well as the location where you let it sit.
Generally, to achieve maximum saturation, it is recommended to let the fabric sit for at least 12 hours and ideally the maximum saturation duration of 24 hours.
Let’s discuss each of the factors that contribute to how long you should let tie-dye sit before rinsing.
Variables that Determine How Long to let Tie-Dye Sit Before Rinsing
Fabric is the biggest variable that determines how long to let tie-dye sit before rinsing. Natural fibers are the best choice because they are highly absorbent and hold dye well. Natural fibers are linens, cotton, silk, hemp, rayon, and wool. Synthetic fabrics are lycra, polyester, and spandex and these are not ideal to dye as they repel liquids, which means they don’t absorb water or moisture.
No matter how much you want to tie-dye your yoga leggings or your swimsuit, they will not hold dye well, or if any at all.
When choosing a fabric to tie-dye, you can use fabrics that are made of at least 80% natural fibers. Any percentage that’s lower than that will not hold color well. Even if it’s a 50/50 cotton blend, it is not ideal for tie-dyeing.
The best choice for tie-dye is 100% cotton. It holds dyes well, absorbs colors very effectively, and dries fast, making it the most ideal fabric to use for tie-dyeing.
If you live in a warm climate, your tie-dye fabric will dry fast, which means the dye will sit faster. As a general rule of thumb, an environment with higher temperature is ideal because it effectively helps the dye to sit faster.
But this doesn’t mean your dye will not sit in cold temperatures. If it’s cold outside, you can opt to have your fabrics dried indoors. Usually, if the weather is cold outside, the thermostat inside your home is warm enough to let the dye sit well in the fabric. It may take a little longer, and the brilliant colors as compared to drying the fabric in warm weather may not be the same.
The location where you let your fabric sit is also important. You have a choice between indoor or outdoor spaces. And you can choose either. The bathroom or laundry room are usually the most ideal places to dry your tie-dye projects since there’s easy access to water and clean-up is easier. Just make sure the area is free from any interruption, such as having no kids or dogs that can disrupt the saturation process.
If you opt to dry the fabric outdoors, make sure it is free from any animal disruption such as birds, dogs, and other animals that might disturb the fabric. You can also cover the fabric with plastic to protect it from rain, dust, dirt, debris, and bugs. A plastic cover can also keep your fabric damp as the dye sits.
4.The Color of Your Dye
The color of the dye you choose to use also has an effect on how you should let tie dye sit in your fabric. Generally, warm colors reach their maximum saturation faster. These colors are yellow, orange, red, brown, maroon, and other warm colors. Cool colors, on the other hand, reach maximum saturation longer, such as green, blue, or purple.
At least 12 hours length duration and up to 24 hour are needed to allow them to reach their full and deep vibrancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Tie-Dye Sit for Too Long?
Yes, after 24 hours, the dye can disrupt the look of the fabric. The maximum saturation duration for tie-dye is at 24 hours and you wouldn’t want to let it sit longer than that. Even if the fabric is not fully dry, it’s time to rinse the dye out.
Leaving the dye for too long can disrupt the overall look of the dye in your fabric and it settles into the creases, as well as leaves you with harsh lines and darker stains that you didn’t intend to have.
How do I Rinse Tie-Dye Fabric?
After leaving the dye to saturate, do not untie it yet. Leave it alone and do not hang it up to dry first. Make sure to let the dye sit for at least 12 to 24 hours before you untie the elastics on your garment or fabric. The longer you let it sit, the easier it will be to wash out the loose dye from the fabric. But remember, do not wait until after 24 hours or longer. Make sure it is within 12 to 24 hours before rinsing.
Rinse using cold water. After rinsing for a several minutes, take off the elastic bands and continue rinsing until the water runs clear. Next, place your item into the washing machine with the washing machine on cold water setting, add a small amount of detergent. When the item is done in the washing machine leave it to air dry.
Should I Let My Tie Dye Dry Before Washing It?
- If you are using a synthetic dye, let it dry before washing. This will help the colors stay brighter and last longer.
- If you are using natural dyes, wetting the fabric before washing can help set the color. So, if you want to be safe, go ahead and wash your tie dye as soon as you’re done with it!
Can I Wash it with Other Clothes?
After letting the fabric sit for 12 to 24 hours, it’s time to remove the ties. Wear gloves as handling the fabric will still stain your hands. Place the fabric under cold running water and rinse until more dye comes out.
After this, you can send it into the washing machine, but make sure you do not wash anything else with the fabric as it can still stain and dye other fabrics. Use regular laundry soap and wash the fabric in a regular cycle. Wash it as many times as you like until the water in the cycle becomes clear.
Ideally, you would rinse the tie-dye project at least 3 to 4 times before you are able to wash it with other clothes.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my kids however, that is typically a challenge with how limited their attention span can be and how messy it gets. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and creating fond memory for all of us.