Tie-dyeing may have reached peak popularity in the 1960s and ’70s, but it has been a popular activity at summer camps and birthday parties ever since. In recent years, however, tie-dye has reemerged as a popular fashion trend. Tie-dye patterns vary widely, from subtle and monochromatic to an explosion of color in starburst, mandala, or heart shapes. Even though tie-dye clothing can now be found at many popular retailers, it still makes for a fun DIY project.
While choosing the best tie-dye kit might seem like a simple decision, there are actually a number of considerations to weigh. Each kit differs in the materials and accessories included, as well as the type of dye and ease of use. This guide explores several important features to look for and then provides choices by category for some of the top products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Emooqi DIY Tie Dye Kits
- BEST COLOR SELECTION: Vanstek Tie Dye DIY Kit
- BEST PASTEL: DOODLE HOG Pastel Tie Dye Kit
- BEST NEON: Tulip One-Step 5 Color Tie-Dye Kits Neon
- BEST LARGE BOTTLES: Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit Extra Large
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: ROYI DIY Tie Dye Kits, 26 Colors
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tie-Dye Kit
Searching for the perfect kit to create your next DIY project can be overwhelming. While it’s easy to assume that all tie-dye kits offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality, including dye type, color selection, extra supplies, and more. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best tie-dye kit.
Most tie-dye kits on the market include reactive dye powders, which are activated when mixed with cold tap water and come in ready-to-mix bottles. The ratio of dye to water will be specified by the manufacturer, though users can also control how pigmented the color is depending on how much water they add. They have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years.
Premixed liquid dyes are also available. Packaged in either squeeze or spray bottles, this option eliminates the mixing step. As they are ready to use, these dyes can make tie-dyeing easier when working with kids.
In order to help dyes cling to clothing, the material is soaked in a mixture of soda ash and water before applying dye. Some dyes are formulated with soda ash as an ingredient, allowing users to skip this step.
Tie-dye kits include a variety of colors ranging from primary hues to neons to pastels. Kits can feature themed color schemes, like camouflage colors, galaxy-inspired shades, and more natural-looking neutrals.
The majority of dyes on the market are designed to be mixable, allowing the ability to create custom colors. Some dyes that are made from natural, plant-based ingredients provide a more subtle color effect but may not be as long lasting. Quantities of each dye range from 1 ounce to 16 ounces or more, depending on the kit.
While tie-dye kits generally include a variety of dye colors, they may come with additional supplies:
- Tie-dyeing is based on the practice of resist-dyeing and involves manipulating the fabric and binding it before applying dye. In modern tie-dyeing, resists are usually done with rubber bands, which are included in many kits.
- Many kits include protective surface covers as well as plastic aprons and protective gloves.
- Some kits include small pieces to dye, like bandannas, scrunchies, and socks.
- Kits may include separate packages of soda ash if it’s not included in the formula of the dye.
There are two basic methods for tie-dyeing: dip-dyeing and dry-dyeing. Depending on whether or not the dye formula includes soda ash, a soda-ash presoak may be necessary.
- Dip-dyeing, also known as bath-dyeing or wet-dyeing, can be done only when using a single color. Mix the dye with water based on the manufacturer’s instructions, and submerge the fabric in the solution. Let it soak for between 10 and 30 minutes. A longer soak time will result in more saturated colors.
- Dry-dyeing, which involves direct dye application, is used for creating a multicolor effect. Use dye from a squeeze bottle, spray bottle, or paintbrush to apply colors to the desired area. Then, wrap the piece in plastic wrap to prevent colors from bleeding. It also helps keep the fabric moist. It usually takes between 6 and 48 hours for the color to set.
Our Top Picks
In addition to overall quality and value, the following top picks are selected based on the abovementioned features that are helpful to consider when shopping for the best tie-dye kit. Read on to discover some of the top options on the market in a variety of categories to create fun and colorful DIY style.
The Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit includes 15 easy-squeeze bottles of nontoxic dyes in a rainbow of colors as well as detailed instructions on how to achieve different patterns. Activate the dyes by adding regular tap water to a bottle. The dye formulas include soda ash, so no presoak is necessary.
Use these dyes on prewashed natural fabrics like 100 percent cotton, silk, and rayon for the most vibrant and long-lasting results. Pieces colored with these dyes are machine washable and can remain bright through repeated washing. The kit includes enough tie-dye supplies for 30 projects and comes with protective gloves and rubber bands.
This kit from Emooqi is designed to create up to 36 garments, making it an affordable pick for a birthday party or other group event. It includes 26 squeeze bottles and 26 bags of nontoxic tie-dye pigment, letting users get creative with a range of colors. The kit also features 160 rubber bands to use as resists during dyeing.
Keep hands, clothes, and tables clean with 10 pairs of protective gloves, two table covers, and two disposable aprons. The package includes a funnel and spoon to transfer the powder pigments into the squeeze bottles. For best results, use these dyes with natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and rayon.
For the best color selection, consider this kit from Vanstek. Most tie-dye kits include bright, kid-friendly hues, and while this dye set includes the more typical violet, teal, bright green, and red, it also features more subtle shades like ochre, matcha green, burgundy, and violet mist. There are 24 colors, each of which contains 2 ounces of nontoxic dye.
The kit also includes 10 pairs of plastic gloves, 120 rubber bands, 10 pieces of protective plastic film, two plastic table covers, and a step-by-step technique guide to provide inspiration and instructions on how to achieve the best results.
Pastel colors are a great choice for a more subtle tie-dye effect that’s reminiscent of ’90s styles. The six pastel dyes in this kit come with fun names, including Make Me Blush, Life’s A Dream…Sicle, Soft & Mellow Yellow, Kind Of A Big Teal, Baby Beluga Blue, and Lit As Lilac.
Each color comes in a 4.06-ounce bottle with two sachets of refill dye powder. The kit also includes soda ash for presoaking fabrics as well as six pairs of gloves, 60 rubber bands, and an easy-to-follow technique guide.
Neon colors make for fun, ultrabright clothing, and this kit contains dyes in fuchsia, orange, yellow, lime, and turquoise that neon-loving kids and adults may enjoy. Each of the five bottles contains 1.53 ounces of dye, but a backup dye pack also is included for each hue, ensuring there’s plenty of dye to complete a DIY project.
There’s no need to presoak with soda ash, and the dyes are colorfast, so they’ll stay bright even after many washes. Four pairs of protective gloves and 40 rubber bands are included in this kit, along with an inspiration and instruction guide.
Many tie-dye kits include small quantities of a variety of dye colors. On the other hand, this set features just six colors, but each comes in an extra-large 16-ounce bottle. The large size makes them an excellent choice for block parties or children’s birthday parties. The nontoxic dyes need to be mixed with water but don’t require a soda-ash soak. They’re machine washable and are formulated to prevent fading.
The kit also includes six pairs of gloves, 50 rubber bands, and an inspiration guide containing eight popular tie-dye patterns, which is helpful for tie-dye beginners who need some extra guidance and inspiration.
The dyes in this kit by ROYI are certified by the SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), an international agency that certifies products comply with certain standards. These dyes are formulated with environmentally friendly materials and are nontoxic for human use. The formula also does not require presoaking garments in a soda-ash solution. Choose from a range of 26 colors, with 1.2 ounces of dye packaged in a squeeze bottle for each color.
The kit also includes 120 rubber bands, five pairs of plastic gloves, and two aprons. Garments colored with these dyes are washable and will retain their bright colors.
FAQs About Tie-Dye Kits
Even if you are ready to start dyeing, you may still have questions about how to choose the right fabric dye, which style of tie-dyeing produces the best results, and how long the dyes will last. The following answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about tie-dye may help.
Q. Can you use any dye for tie-dye?
Use any fabric dye for tie-dyeing. Most tie-dye kits contain dyes, which are best used on natural materials because polyester and other synthetic fabrics don’t hold color as easily.
Q. How do you pick tie-dye colors?
Choose tie-dye colors based on your desired result and skill level. Tie-dye kits are available with pastel, neon, and primary color hues, providing options for any type of project.
Q. Which is better: wet or dry tie-dye?
Both wet and dry tie-dyeing techniques offer similar results. Use wet-dyeing for single-color projects and dry-dyeing for multicolor projects.
Q. How do you get the best results tie-dyeing?
For the best results, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Use naturally derived fabrics like cotton, wool, silk, and rayon. To get the most vibrant colors, give the dye plenty of time to soak into the fabric. When dry-dyeing, you can even let the fabric sit for a couple of days before rinsing.
Q. How many shirts does a tie-dye kit make?
The number of garments that a tie-dye kit can make varies widely depending on the quantity of dye included. An ounce of dye is needed for one T-shirt. Some of the larger kits on the market can dye up to 36 garments.
Q. Do tie-dye kits expire?
Most fabric dyes are best used within 1 or 2 years but cannot be stored for more than a couple of days after being mixed with water. While there’s no danger in using older dyes, results may vary.