Tie Dye FAQs

Have questions about tie dye? We have answers! Check out our list of frequently asked questions to find the answer you're looking for. Don’t see it? Contact us using the information below.

Video FAQs

Common Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye questions are answered in this brief video series!

Getting Started

Where can I purchase Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits®?

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kits can be purchased at these participating retailers: A.C. Moore, Hancock, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michaels, Meijers and Walmart, as well as on amazon.com and our online shop.

Why is it called "One-Step Tie-Dye?"

Our Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits® include great color combinations of permanent dyes that are packaged in easy squeeze bottles, so all you have to do is add cold tap water, shake it up and tie dye! This saves you time and it’s easy to do—no special soaking, no extra ingredients needed.

Is there anything I’ll need for my project that’s not included in the kit?

Our Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits® contain all of the supplies you’ll need to create a project, but to protect your work surface, you’ll need a disposable plastic tablecloth or a plastic garbage bag to cover the area before dyeing a project. And if you create with a lot of enthusiasm, you’ll want to wear old clothes or an apron to protect yourself.

Do Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits® have to be used with hot water in order for the dye to work?

No, our Tulip One-Step Dyes activate with cold tap water—they’re super easy to use! Just add tap water up to the fill line marked on the bottle and shake, and you’re ready to go.

We also offer Tulip® Permanent Fabric Dyes and Tulip® Liquid Dyes™ that are formulated to use with hot water and salt. Tulip® Liquid Dyes™ can also be used in your washing machine.

What are the recommended fabrics to use to get the best results when dyeing?

We recommend using our dye on fabrics that are 100% natural, such as cotton, rayon and silk. Our dyes are formulated to absorb into the natural fibers, which is why they hold their color so well, washing after washing.

Manmade synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc. do not absorb these dyes very well or sometimes not at all. If you want to experiment, try on a similar fabric swatch first.

Can I dye fabric that is 50% cotton and 50% polyester?

You can use cotton blends, but the color will not be as vibrant as 100% natural fibers like cotton, silk and rayon.

Do Tulip® dyes work on other items besides fabric?

Our dyes are formulated to be the brightest and last the longest on natural fabrics. That said, however, we’re all about creative experimentation! We’ve seen our dyes used on hair extensions and to create tie-dye looks on paper and wood … Just be sure to test first so you won’t be disappointed with the results. Then show us what you’ve made in our online project gallery. We’d love to see it!

Just remember not to use our dyes on utensils or items that come into contact with food.

Do I need to pre-treat fabrics with soda ash before dyeing with Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits®?

No, you don’t! Our One-Step Dyes are specially formulated, so all you do is just add water, shake it up and you’re ready to go.

Do I need to soak my dyed fabric in salt water before dyeing?

No need for a salt soak, but we do recommend washing your fabric to remove the sizing (a product that keeps the fabric stiff and minimizes wrinkles), as sizing can block the full absorption of the dye pigment. And don’t use your fabric softener in the wash cycle—it adds in more chemicals that may affect the dye colors.

Does it matter if my item is wet or dry before I add dye?

We generally recommend washing your fabric and leaving it damp before dyeing, as the dye has an easier time saturating the fabric when it’s wet. But depending on the technique and the look you want, you can apply dye to dry fabric. Just make sure the fabric has been washed (if it’s new) to remove the sizing. Applying dye to dry fabric results in more color saturation but less uniform permeation throughout the fabric.

I would like to dye over a fabric that’s already colored; do I need to bleach the existing color before dyeing?

It depends on what you want to make and the look you’re going for. If you want to dye the fabric a darker color, we recommend using a dye color within the same color family as the existing color on the fabric (i.e. from Light Pink to Fuchsia). Any color outside of the color family may turn muddy or brown. Bleaching out the colored fabric before dyeing will not completely remove the base color and may not create better results when dyeing.

Can I use other Tulip® dyes such as Tulip® Permanent Fabric Dye in the Tulip® One-Step Dye bottles?

No, because each type of Tulip Dye is created with a different application purpose in mind. Tulip One-Step Dyes are formulated differently than our other dyes and activate by adding cold tap water to the dye in the easy applicator bottles—a super fast way to prep and go for tie-dye techniques.

Our Tulip Permanent Fabric Dyes require very hot water and salt in a larger container such as a bucket or sink, and our Tulip Liquid Dyes are meant for use in a washing machine.

What if I accidentally ingest or breathe in some of the dye power? Is it harmful?

Accidentally inhaling a little bit of dye powder might turn the inside of your nose or tongue the color of the dye, and may cause irritation. Remove as much dye as possible with running water, and get medical attention if irritation persists.

If it is accidentally ingested, please follow these instructions:
First Aid Treatment: Contains organic dye and sodium bicarbonate. If swallowed, contact a poison control center or doctor immediately. Do not induce vomiting. If in eyes, rinse with water for 15 minutes. If on skin, rinse well with water.

Making Tie-Dye Magic

Do I need to let my tie-dyed fabric dry out before washing?

No, we recommend covering your fabric with plastic after applying your dye to keep it damp for 6 to 8 hours; this helps the dye really soak in and reach its full color concentration potential. Once the dye has set for 6-8 hours, make sure you thoroughly rinse the fabric under running water until the water runs clear, then remove the rubber bands or ties, and wash as instructed.

I accidentally spilled dye on an unprotected surface; what’s the best way to remove the stain?

We know accidents happen! Use paper towels to immediately absorb the spilled dye (remember to keep your gloves on!). If the dye was spilled on a surface such as laminate or tile, try cleaning up any remaining stains with a bleach product. If the dye was spilled on an unvarnished absorbent surface like wood, you might not be able to remove any remaining stains. This is why we strongly recommend using disposable plastic tablecloths or large trash bags to protect your work surface before dyeing.

How do I dispose of leftover dye once I am finished using it? Is it okay to pour down the sink?

In general yes, it is safe to dispose of leftover dye by pouring it down a drain. You may want to check your city’s waste disposal regulations as a precaution.

I didn’t wear gloves and got dye on my hands; how do I clean the dye off of them?

The dye will eventually wear off, but if you don’t want to wait, you can try a heavy-duty soap like Lava Soap. Sometimes we like showing off our colorful hands, but we do get funny looks.

Do I need to worry about dried spots of dye on my work surface after I’m finished with my project?

Definitely YES! Once you’re finished with your tie-dye project, make sure you thoroughly clean your work area. Those random dried spots of dye and dye powder can activate if touched with water. You don’t want those kinds of surprises when you’re working on a different project.

How long will the dye last once it’s mixed with water? Can I use it at a later date if I don’t use all of the dye during my project?

Once the dye has been activated by mixing with water, it has the ideal color concentration time of about 45 minutes, so we generally recommend using your dye within that timeframe. Our designers have used dye a day after activating with good results, so your best option is to test the dye on a small swatch of fabric to check the vibrancy.

Taking Care of Your Tie-Dyed Masterpiece

Can I wash dyed clothing with my other laundry?

We recommend washing dyed fabrics at least three times separately before washing with your other laundry, as the dye color may bleed out a little bit during the first few washes.

Will the dye stain my washing machine when I wash dyed fabric?

It shouldn’t, but if you notice any discoloration, run another wash cycle (without fabric) and include at least a cup of bleach in the cycle.

Can I wash multiple dyed fabrics together in the washing machine?

We only recommend washing multiple dyed fabrics together if they are dyed with the same color scheme. If the fabric items each have different colors, they should be washed separately to avoid muddying and dulling of the colors on the fabrics as they bleed out into the wash water.

Can I put my dyed fabric in the dryer after washing?

Yes, as long as the fabric is dryer safe, you can dry it in the dryer after dyeing.

After washing my dyed fabric, the color lightened or changed. Why did this happen?

Some color change is normal after laundering because a small amount of dye washes out. Check the labeling on your fabric to make sure the fabric is 100% cotton or another natural fabric. If it’s polyester or a polyester blend, the fabric won’t absorb the dye as well and much of the dye will wash out during the wash cycle. If the fabric was not prewashed before dyeing, any sizing left in the fibers can also affect how the dye absorbs.

Learn More About Our Family of Tulip® Dyes

What is the difference between Tulip® Permanent Dye, Tulip® One-Step Dye and Tulip® Liquid Dye™?

Tulip One-Step Dyes are formulated differently than our other dyes and activate with just the addition of cold water, which makes packing the dyes in their easy applicator bottles ideal. They’re great for creating a variety of multi-color (or one color) tie-dye effects.

Tulip Permanent Fabric Dye requires very hot water and salt mixed in a larger container such as a bucket or sink to activate, and is ideal for one-color dyeing. Tulip Liquid Dye is meant for use in a bucket, sink or washing machine, and also requires very hot water and salt; it’s ideal for one-color/allover dyeing when you want the washing machine to do the agitation for a good color soak.

How do I know which Tulip dye to use for my project?

We recommend One-Step Dye for tie-dye projects, Permanent Fabric Dye for one-color/allover dyeing and Liquid Dye for one-color/allover dyeing for larger projects like towels that you can throw in the washing machine.

Do Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye Kits have to be used with hot water in order for the dye to work?

No, our Tulip One-Step Dyes activate with cold tap water—they’re super easy to use! Just add tap water and shake, and you’re ready to go.

We also offer Tulip Permanent Fabric Dyes that are used with hot water and salt, and Tulip Liquid Dyes that are formulated to use with hot water and salt in your washing machine.

Can I dye a fabric multiple colors with Tulip® Permanent Fabric Dye?

Tulip Permanent Fabric Dye is meant for one-color dyeing, so we recommend Tulip One-Step Dyes for tie-dyeing or dyeing a fabric multiple colors.