DIY Tie Dye Ideas at Home

Tie dye is everywhere right now, and for some of it you pay a premium too.  I decided to come up with my own tie dye ideas!  Not sure if this was a smart idea or completely crazy idea on my part, but nonetheless we did it!  Be sure to block out a couple of hours if you choose to try tie dying your own items anytime soon!  My daughter is 6 and LOVED this activity.  She stuck with me through the process.  My son is 3 and lost interest fairly quickly.

DIY Tie Dye Checklist

Squeeze bottles used for tie dying at home

Side note:  These squeeze bottles work for so many things!  I use them for royal icing when making Christmas cookies!

At home tie dying set up

Our set up.  Large old blanket in the front yard.

What should I tie dye?

The obvious answer is a simple t-shirt.  I grabbed the kids these plain white tees from Michael’s, but you could easily use any old white tee they already have.  That’s what I did for the ones I made for myself and my husband.  I had an old dingy Madewell pocket tee and used that (and I LOVE how it turned out)!  We now have matching patriotic tie dye tees for the whole fam!  Perfect for Memorial Day weekend!

Tie Dye set up at home


Items to tie dye at home

Take a white bath towel and make a fun beach towel for summer!

With summer right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to let the kids each make a beach towel.  I grabbed these $4 white bath towels from Target. By far, the beach towels are my FAVE!  I made one for myself too!  Keep scrolling to see how the towels turned out!  I particularly like the swirl ones.  Those were a huge gamble on my part, but they turned out great!

We also dyed some old white socks.  We actually started out with the socks which was a good idea for testing things out and getting acquainted with the process.

Simple Tie Dye Techniques

I watched a few You Tube videos before taking the leap and tie dying our own items.  I quickly learned about two simple techniques.  Before starting, make sure to dampen all of your items slightly with water.  I just used a spray bottle and spritzed all pieces a bit before beginning.

The Swirl

This is perhaps the most iconic tie dye technique.  It’s the one you see on most tie dye pieces.  The dye sort of starts in the center and then seemingly swirls outward.  We used this method on a couple of beach towels and all of our t-shirts.  You simply lay your item on a flat surface and find the center of the item. Pull up on the center of the item and begin to twist.

Tie Dying at home with the swirl technique

Once you have your item twisted begin to place rubber bands around the item making sure your rubber bands all cross/intersect on top of each other in the middle.  If you’re doing the swirl technique on a beach towel it will feel bulky and weird, but I promise you it’s worth it! On the t-shirts we did, we used three rubber bands with this technique and on the towels we used four.  It will sort of resemble a flower as shown below.

DIY Tie Dye at home_the swirl technique

The Stripes

The stripes technique feels less weird when doing it, but the outcome isn’t as exciting as the swirl (at least in my opinion).  We did this technique on one beach towel and it did turn out fun, but I prefer the swirl 🙂 You can get a good idea of how to do this technique from the video below.  You simply roll the item (vertically) you’re tie dying and place rubber bands a few inches apart from each other.


What do I do after applying the dye?

Once you’ve completed squeezing dye onto all of the items wrap each item individually using saran wrap or a plastic grocery bag.  Each item should sit in a safe place (i.e. don’t leave outside if it’s going to rain soon) for at least 6-8 hours.  I let all of our projects sit overnight.

How to tie dye at home_wrap items in plastic and sit overnight

In the morning, begin to unwrap each item removing all rubber bands and plastic wrap.  Rinse each item with cool water in the sink (if you have a utility sink, it’s probably best to use it if you’re tie dying larger items like towels). Continue rinsing and squeezing out the water until it becomes mostly clear.  Throw in the washing machine by itself on cold water.  Then dry the item on medium heat.  VOILA!  Now you’re ready to enjoy your items!  Here are a few of our pieces!

orange swirl tie dye beach towel

My orange swirl beach towel!  L O V E!

how to make a tie dye tshirt with kids

Layla’s swirl t- shirt!

How to tie dye a beach towel

Hen’s striped beach towel!

Swirl pattern tie dye beach towel

Layla’s swirl beach towel!  She used purple, yellow and pink!


DIY Tie Dye process at home

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If you aren’t in the mood to tie dye your own stuff, check out my post with the latest tie dye finds on Amazon!

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  • I love this. Looks like you two had a great time! Most of my bath towels are white, so this is a great alternative to using them as rags or throwing them away. Excited to do this soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks friend! I’m excited to see what you create! Have fun! Maybe Tom can do the tutorial when you guys do it! 😉

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About Emily

Hi! I’m Emily; wife, mom of two, and all things digital freelance entrepreneur! This is a space where I share my love of all things style, home, family, DIY and more here in Saint Louis, MO. I’m so glad you’re here!

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