Taking Dye to the Next Level -- Painting with Dye and Bleach and More Innovative Techniques

Posted by on Mar 07, 2023

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Pexels / Teona Swift


You may have tie-dyed your clothing as a kid and thought you’d never do it again. The style can be cute, over-the-top and far out, but only a small amount of fashionistas would look to it as stylish. Dye-ing and Tie dye-ing are techniques that have a lot more possibilities than day-glow colors shaped into rainbow waves. 

Using a single color can be unexpectedly subtle. Tye dying with bleach turns out much spookier than you might think. 

Here are some approaches to dye-ing you probably haven’t tried, but should.


Roll a T-shirt or other clothing item around a string and then pull the ends of the string together to form a circle. Using a condiment-style bottle, drizzle ink onto the wrapped up shirt. You can do it in one or a few colors. Let sit and unwrap. The resulting design looks like a web or honeycomb. 

Reverse Tye Die
Using a fork, twist a black shirt in a circle like its cotton candy and then wrap it with rubber bands. Pour a teaspoon or less of bleach in-between the rubber bands. Cover those bleached areas with other colors. The result will be colors on a black background in a swirly stye that common in Tie Dye, yet rarely seen on a black background. 

Gather up a batch of small stones about two inches long. Wrap sections of the shirt around the stones and secure them in with rubber bands. Pour one color dye on the areas with the stones and another on the parts without them. Let sit and unwrap and the result looks like-splashes of color. 

Triangle Shibori 
Fold the shirt lengthwise into a thin rectangle and fold it again into triangles, the way a ceremonial flag is tucked together. Tie a small cardboard triangle to each side of the fabric and place into a pot of dye. After letting the dye sink in, remove from the pot, cut off the strings and remove the cardboard triangles. The resulting geometric design will be very different from what you traditionally think of as tie dye.

Painting with Bleach

While much of this video is about the effects you get when dropping or brushing bleach onto ink, which look a little less psychedelic and more tribal. About ix minutes into the video, Jazza moves from experiments on paper to fabric and ties up shirts in ways similar to the previous tie dye experts, but uses bleach on black material to get his effects. The result looks like blood cells under a microscope. He also shows how to paint a skull onto shirt and other interesting techniques.

Watercolor Clothing

For this idea, the DIY Designer does floral line drawings onto fabric (in this case, a blazer). Cover as much of the material as you want with drawings. Then paint water onto the leaves. Top that water with brushstrokes of dye. Then with a combination of water and dye (alternating brushes) you blend out the dye so it looks like watercolor paint). 

Whether you’re seasoned beginner or expert, expect the dyes may stain the clothes you’re wearing. Don’t fret. The right technique, patience, and swiftness will help you remove the stains.

— Act quick. The longer the dye stain remains on the fabric, the more difficult it is to remove.
— Rinse with cold water. You must rinse it with cold water to flush out most of the dye before it sets in. Use stain remover.  — Use a stain remover if the cold water does not entirely remove the dye stain. Apply it on the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes before washing. Pre-treat the dye first before bringing it to the wash and fold services.

If none of these work, and you are dealing with delicate clothing, you should seek help from a professional dry cleaner. Several laundry and dry cleaning services offer stain removal, and they may be able to remove the dye stain.

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