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Rit dye for tie-dyeing?

Q. I want to tie dye my comforter but it's not going to fit in a microwave for the setting process any suggestions and I've already invested in the colors with Rit Dye [affil link] so I'd rather not go and spend more money on other dyes if I don't have to.

Renee G.
- Salem Oregon
September 5, 2021

A. Hi Renee. Although microwaving is one good way, I don't think it's the only way. Bob Zonis suggests, below, soaking them in boiling or very hot highly salted water.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
September 2021

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. I was wanting to do a tie-dye project with Children and didn't want to use the toxic dyes/Soda Ash, so was wondering if anyone had experience using Rit dye on cotton t-shirts?

Any response would be very much appreciated.

Sarah von Fange
- North Adams, Massachusetts

A. Rit Dye [affil link] works fine. As a youngster when Tie dying was the rage, I created many a wonderful eyewatering T shirts!

Good luck

Tom H.

Tom Haltmeyer
- Peoria, Arizona

A. RIT is perfect for tie-dyeing, as I'm sure the RIT people will be happy to tell you. Soak the finished shirts in hot or boiling very salted water to set the dye more permanently. Washing the t-shirts before allowing children to wear them will avoid having tie-dyed children, but if you don't, the dye does come off kids with just a little scrubbing, assuming you can get them to hold still long enough.

Bob Zonis
- Bohemia, New York

A. RIT dye fades quickly and does not have a variety of vivid color options. Grateful Dyes somewhere in Colorado has some fantastic dyes that when used with a setting solution create a chemical reaction in the plant fiber of your fabric. These are safe dyes for kids but mercilessly permanent. The colors are stunningly bright. Last time I ordered from them I chastised them for not having a web site.

Craig Whitaker
- Aurora, Illinois

Ed. note Sept. 2021: Times have changed and we no longer can post suggestions/comparisons of particular brands or sources ( huh? why?). Technical suggestions, such as fiber-reactive vs. non-fiber-reactive remain welcome of course.

A. There is no reason to believe that all-purpose dye, such as Rit brand dye, is any less toxic than fiber reactive dyes, such as the Procion [affil link] MX type dyes from Grateful Dyes. However, the recommended technique for tie-dyeing with Rit dye requires that you submerge your garments in simmering hot water; if you want to do a tie-dye with several different bright or intense colors, this requires thirty minutes, for each color, of holding the garment partially submerged in a scalding hot dye bath of that color. The soda ash technique for cold water fiber reactive dyes is much faster, safer, and easier! See my own non-commercial web site of instructions for dyeing:

Paula Burch, Ph.D.
- Houston, Texas

Ed. note Sept. 2021: Paula's site is still there 18 years later, and quite exhaustive. Thanks Dr. Burch!

Q. Setting tie-dyed shirts? I tie-died shirts and am having a problem getting the dye to set; it keeps turning the shirts brown what do I do?

Elisha Brewer
church youth group - Citrus Heights, California

A. I had always used RIT dyes in the past (Because there wasn't much else). My son is now 6 and really wanted to do a tie dyed shirt since last year. I bought RIT because I didn't have any experience with anything else. I kept putting it off because it is so messy and time consuming. This summer we had a chance to experience the soda ash setting method and it is so much cleaner and nicer. You don't have to soak the shirt in each color and after soaking in the soda ash for about 15-20 minutes, it was ready to have the colors squirted on it. It took 24 hours and both my son and husband have wonderfully tie dyed shirts. I would recommend the soda ash method over the hot water & tubs any day.

Kim Wilson
- Montrose, Michigan

A. Actually there is an easy and effective way to use RIT - by microwaving it after applying the dye - works really good. You can find instructions right on their web site.

w. lander
- milwaukee Wisconsin
August 7, 2010

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

Q. How do you tie-dye t-shirts? And what dye do you use? And is it usually better to do this outside ?

Horrine F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Brampton, Ontario, Canada

"Batik & Tie Dye Techniques"
by Nancy Belfer

on AbeBooks

or Amazon

(affil links)

thumbs up signIt's really difficult. It was a highly technical offshoot of the tartan dye industry. :-)
Just tie string around your shirt and dye. Any clothes dye will do. As for where, inside, outside just not in the bath.

Ciaron Murphy
- Great Britain

A. I'm pretty sure it's done with aqueous dyes, I don't think you need to be outside to do it. Why don't you look around the web and ask some nice hippies?

Jake Koch
G. J. Nikolas &Co.,Inc.
supporting advertiser
Bellwood, Illinois
nikolas banner ad


on AbeBooks

or Amazon

(affil links)

A. Hey! Jake, not all tie-dye is done by hippies! ;) Tie-dyed things have come back into fashion... now I can drag out my clothes from the seventies... (ooops...ok there WERE a few tie-dyed things in there, but--- PEACE, man!)

Seriously.... I suggest you go to the Google search engine on the web and type in the word "shibori". There will be many sites listed . You can read up on the different techniques used in various parts of the world. Some of those sites will give you information on dyes. For my own projects, I have used Tintex or Rit Dye [affil link]. You can also use Procion [affil link] dyes. All of these dyes will work on a cotton t-shirt. Read the directions that come with the dye. Use rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon affil links] and eye protection. Never use measuring implements or containers that will be used for food. Doing it outside is necessary if you are a messy person.

You can tie with string, use rubber bands, knot the shirt, etc. There are many techniques that will work.

Good luck!

Ronna Erickson
- Amherst, Massachusetts



Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Ok Ted, But do I at least qualify as "nice" hippie?

Ronna Erickson
- Amherst, Massachusetts

Certainly nice! Smart, educated, kind, and helpful! An accomplished scientist! Probably a good wife and mother. And yet underneath it all . . .

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Ok...this thread forced me to admit I'm a hippie at heart. I'm the one in the peach -- not PINK -- shirt. And yes, it's from a while ago.

Marc Green (hippie at heart)
- Boise, Idaho

I'm not a hippie.

H.I.P.P.I.E. = hairy. indolent. poor. parsimonious. ignorant and easy going ... or = happy, indolent, pleasant, peculiar, interesting and exuberant. Take your choice ... probably with a dawg attached.

By the way, that was a lousy photo of you ... I was just dye-ing to tell you that!

t.t.f.n. Freeman

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [deceased]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

Ok, Freeman..I suppose I had that coming, after making fun of Canada's hockey franchises, and my comment about the strength of your looney against the almighty American dollar. As a die-hard St. Louis Blues fan, I hope we meet in the playoffs so I can gloat a little bit. Anyways, I choose the latter of your 2 definitions of H.I.P.P.I.E.

Holy Moly...Canucks 4, Red Wings 3? Maybe we will meet in the playoffs!

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

Well, Freeman.. looks like your Canucks are showing their true colors..sigh..I was hoping I'd have a chance to talk a little trash to ya if we met in the playoffs.

Marc Green (Go Blues!)
- Boise, Idaho

thumbs up sign My upstairs neighbor is From Boise, Idaho. He Bleeds Blue. He is an Alum of Boise State and will retur to His Beloved Idaho when he retires at 65 Yrs Old next Year, Please, Please, Please get rid of that Blue Football Field. It is HARD to watch a Football game played on it. GoHio State, University of AX in Tucson AZ, the Cleveland Browns (I'm from Akron, Ohio,), And Tom Brady QB #12 and His Superbowl Winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is 44 yrs old and will win the Superbowl Again in January 2022 at the LA Rams home field in Cali. Have a great year my friend! Robert aka Bob

Bob Horvath
79 years old and Retired - Tucson, AZ
September 19, 2021

thumbs up signThanks for entertaining me while I was trying to learn the best method for tie-dyeing my own stuff!

Cheryl K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Mcloud, Oklahoma

Q. How do you do a shibori tie-dye.. about 2 years ago I learned this a few different ways, one was using a paste, does anyone have a recipe for ?

Janel D.
school - Corn, Maine

A. You can see if a local library has the above-referenced Shibori book, Janel. Or maybe Amazon's "search inside" feature will let you see enough of it to find that answer. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I'm having a b-day party for my 5 year old...we are sorta making tie dye shirts...I need to know what the best dye is that I can buy at a retail store....(Walmart...Target...etc.)Does anyone know if the standard Rit will work...I've heard mixed things about it...'re in Idaho and you're a Blues Fan??? You should cheer for a real team...The Hawks...ok...maybe not this year...but hey they proved themselves winners last year..:)

Melissa Irvine
- Yorkville, Illinois
April 28, 2011

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