How To Tie Dye With Food Coloring – The Easy Way!

It’s time to get your tie-dye on! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create beautiful tie-dye designs using food coloring – the easy way.

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Looking for a fun, easy and inexpensive way to tie dye with food coloring? This method uses a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, and the results are beautiful! All you need is white cotton fabric, food coloring, salt and vinegar. You can also use this method to change the color of clothing that is already dyed.

What You’ll Need

To get started, you’ll need the following materials:
– White fabric (cotton works best)
– Food coloring in your desired colors
– Rubber bands
– A plastic container or zip-top bag
– A cup or bowl of water

Step-by-Step Instructions

Ready to get your tie-dye on? Follow these easy instructions and you’ll be an expert in no time!

What You’ll Need:
– 1 white 100% cotton t-shirt
– 3 plastic squeeze bottles
– 1 cup of warm water
– 1 teaspoon of table salt
– Food coloring in your desired colors
-(optional) 1 tablespoon of white vinegar

1. Mix together one cup of warm water and one teaspoon of salt in a bowl, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Pour this mixture into one of your squeeze bottles. This will be your “dye fixative”.
2. Add about 20 drops of food coloring to each of the other two bottles. These will be your “dye” solutions. You can use any colors you like – the more vibrant, the better! *Pro tip: if you want really bold colors, mix together two or more food colorings in each bottle before adding them to your fabric.*
3. Pre-wash your t-shirt in warm water to remove any fabric sizing that could interfere with the dyeing process. Then, wet the shirt completely with warm water and wring it out so it’s damp but not dripping wet. This will help the dye absorb evenly into the fabric.
4. To start dyeing, squirt some of one color of dye onto one small section of the shirt. Then, use another color to add a second layer of dye on top (this is where those bold colors come in!). Repeat with as many colors as you like – there’s no wrong way to do it! Just make sure that each section has at least two layers of dye for best results.
5.(optional) Once you’re happy with your design, squirt a small amount of vinegar fixative onto each section to help set the color.
6. To finish, roll up your shirt loosely from bottom to top (like a jellyroll), and tie it off with rubber bands at 1-2″ intervals to keep the fabric from shifting around while it dries. Then, let it sit for at least 6 hours or overnight to allow the color to set completely before rinsing out in cold water and washing on gentle cycle separately from other clothing items

Tips and Tricks

As you may have guessed, the key to successful tie-dyeing with food coloring is all in the preparation. Before you start, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

-Wear old clothes or an apron – tie-dye can be messy!
-Prepare your workspace – lay down a plastic tablecloth or trash bag to protect surfaces from stains.
-Fill small bottles or cups with equal parts water and white vinegar. You’ll use this mixture to wet your fabric before adding color.
-Choose vibrant, non-toxic food coloring. Gel food coloring works well, but liquid food coloring will also work in a pinch. Avoid using natural dyes like turmeric – they won’t produce as bold of a result.
-Experiment with different techniques – you can create interesting patterns by crumpling, folding, or twisting your fabric before adding color.


There are many variations of this technique, but we will focus on the three most popular methods.

The first method is to pre- soak your fabric in a mixture of water and salt. This will help the fabric to absorb the dye more evenly. You can either soak your fabric in a large container or bucket, or you can add the salt directly to your dye bath.

The second method is to add the food coloring directly to the dyebath. This is the easiest method, but it does not produce as even of a color as the other methods.

The third method is to create a paste out of food coloring and water, and then apply that paste to your fabric. This is the most labor intensive method, but it produces the best results.

Finishing Touches

Now that the dyeing is complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches!

Rinsing and Fixing:

1. Carefully remove your fabric from the dye bath and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear. You may need to do this a few times.

2. Once the fabric is free of excess dye, add a small amount of white vinegar to a tub or sink full of cool water. Submerge your fabric in the mixture and let it soak for 15 minutes.

3. After soaking, rinse your fabric under cold water again until the water runs clear. This will help set the color and prevent it from bleeding in future washes.

4. Hang your fabric up to dry, or place it in a clothes dryer on the low heat setting. Do not iron until the fabric is completely dry, as this may cause the colors to bleed.

Storage and Care

After you have created your masterpiece, it is important to take proper care of it to make sure that the colors stay brilliant. Hand-washing is always the best way to clean a tie-dye garment, using cold water and gentle detergent. You can machine-wash it, but use the delicate cycle and cold water. It is also important to wash your garment separately from other clothing items, at least for the first few washes.

Once your tie-dye garment has been washed and rinsed, you can machine dry it on low heat or hang it to dry. Once it is completely dry, you can store it in a drawer or closet just like any other article of clothing.


-What kind of food coloring should I use?
-What kind of fabrics can I tie dye?
-Can I use other dyes besides food coloring?
-How do I set the dye?
-How do I wash my tie dyed item?

Further Reading

This guide covers the basics of tie dyeing with food coloring, but there are endless possibilities for creativity! If you want to explore more advanced techniques, there are plenty of resources available online and in craft stores. With a little experimentation, you can create beautiful designs that are unique to you.


This easy how-to guide was created by Red Ted Art. For more fun food coloring projects, check out our website!

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