How to TIE DYE using food coloring

How to tie dye using food coloing. An easy way for kids to learn the techniques of tie dying chemical free.

Teach your kids the techniques of tie dying using food coloring

For a long while now my girls have been wanting to try their hand at tie dying so we thought why not make tie dye red, white, and blue shirts for the 4th of July that was coming up. But there was one slight problem, we were pressed for time and I had NEVER tried to tie dye before…ever. So we did some searching on Pinterest and found a TON of tutorials. We came across ones that used food coloring and I thought that would be a perfect starting point for us since we’d never tried this whole thing before.

It was a pretty great experience too! I’m so glad we tried this method first. I need to add that the food coloring does NOT stay in the fabric after being washed. There are steps that we could have taken to make it stay but I wanted their shirts to rinse clean so they could try other folding techniques and not have a million tie dye shirts in their closet.

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Here’s what you’ll need

I picked everything up from my local Walmart & Dollar Tree, but I’ve included links if you prefer to order these items on Amazon and have them delivered right to your door.

Easily TIE DYE with food coloring

First you want to unfold your t-shirt so it is laying flat in front of you. Then pinch the middle and twist the shirt so it coils into itself. This was a little difficult for my girls to do so I did this step for them. But with a little practice I think they will master it in no time.

How to tie dye using food coloring. The perfect method for kids to practice how to DIY tie dye at home.
How to tie dye using food coloring. The perfect method for kids to easily learn tie dying techniques.

Next, wrap a rubber band around the circumference of the coiled shirt. Then add several rubber bands going the other direction around the shirt so it doesn’t come undone. The method gives the shirt a traditional spiral look but if you want to learn other techniques I recommend reading Stephanie Lynn’s blog post about other tie dye folding techniques.

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

Now you’re ready to start mixing the food color mixture.

I read another tutorial they recommended 8 drops of food coloring to 1/2 C of water. We mixed that at first but it didn’t seem like the colors were very bright. So we doubled the food coloring drops.

You’ll need to mix 16 drops of food coloring:1/2 C water we just poured it all into our squeeze bottles and gave them a good shake. I wasn’t sure how much solution we would use since we had 3 shirts to do and we ended up having to refill one red bottle and one blue bottle.

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

Their little setup was so cute I had to snap lots of pics!

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

Then start squirting on the food coloring solution. If you don’t prewash your shirt you might have a hard time getting your shirt to absorb the liquid. This was us lol! So we gave our shirts a quick misting with a spray bottle with water in it and after that it soaked the food color water up just fine.


How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

Keep squirting on the solution until your shirt looks like the one below. Again, we are first timers here but this worked for us so this is what we are recommending ;)!

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

Other tutorials we read said to soak the shirt in salt water after you’re done squirting on the food color mixture. Then remove it after so many hours and let it sit for at least 12 hours…but we didn’t do that lol! We were pressed for time and this was a just for fun tie dye experiment to get our feet wet with the whole tie dying experience. But we did let our shirts set for 24 hours, mainly because we had a million other things to do {momma of 4 life}.

Keeping your shirt coiled up with the rubber bands still on it, place it inside a plastic bag and wrap the bag tight squeezing out all the air. Let sit for at least 12 hours.

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.
How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

After it has sat, take it out and hang it inside to dry, away from sunlight. Once dry you can wear your freshly food colored tie dyed shirt right away.

My girls did some fancy cutting and tying on their shirts. The middle two even used some of their discarded pieces to make fun headbands to match their shirts!

Like I said above, this method is not permanent. It WILL wash out. But it was so fun for the girls to test the waters of tie dyeing. Look how adorable they are!! BTW the youngest of the four daughters didn’t want any part of the whole thing….life with a toddler lol!

How to tie dye using food coloring. Easy method for kids to practice the tie dying technique.

In my opinion this is THE perfect way for kids to experiment with tie dying. They can do so many wrapping and folding techniques and if they don’t like it it will wash right out. And if they find a technique they love they can try their hand at the permanent stuff.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial. My girls had so much fun with this!

Let me know if you have any questions below.