|Curing and washing your Tie Dyes|
My shirt is done being dyed… when do I get to see it?
After you have finished folding and dyeing your tee shirt you need to let the dye react to the cellulose of the fabric. This is done by keeping you tie dye in a moist warm environment. You can either place each shirt in its own plastic bag or stack and cover with plastic sheeting or bags. I place the shirts on tin foil and stack them three high on bread crates then cover them with plastic. The tin foil is a vestige of the days I used to heat the shirts in an oven at 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes. This produces steam and heat, setting the dyes quicker. I have found this step unnecessary if you let the shirts stay moist and warm for 24-48 hours.
Now the fun part… revealing your creations!
NOTE AND WARNING – Washing machines can be dangerous if hands or hair comes in contact with the machines agitator while in use. Machines are not made for rinsing tie dyes and some of these steps involve having the machine open and agitating. Use extreme caution when attempting this. Also, wipe and clean machine off with a damp rag during these procedures. After you finish washing you dyes, run a empty wash/rinse/spin cycle with hot water before washing any laundry to avoid inadvertently staining your laundry with dye residue.
Recommended small batch method:
First fill top loading washing machine with hot water and detergent. Then, hold shirt with rubber bands under running cold water. Use a utility sink or bathtub. Place plastic around area and clean up any spills promptly to avoid any staining. Let saturate and squeeze shirt to release dye. Do this until the water you are wringing out is getting clearer and not thick with dye. (A lot of the dye will come out and is dark and rich with color… mostly black at first) Then, while taking off the rubber bands, continue saturating and wringing tee shirt with warm water until it runs even clearer. At this point place in top loading washing machine with detergent and hot water already filled. Keep lid open and machine on wash/agitate cycle. Continue process with each tee shirt. Avoid placing more than fifteen shirts in any one load. Return washing machine to wash/agitate cycle if it stops before all shirts are done being hand rinsed. After all shirts are in machine run the shirts through two entire wash/rinse/spin cycles.
*NOTE* If you just have access to a front loading machine you can place the hand rinsed shirts in a 5 gallon bucket of hot water and detergent. Then wring again and transfer all at once to machine and start wash cycle as soon as possible to avoid any permanent bleed stains.
Fill top loading washing machine(s) with cold water and detergent. Place no more than ten tee shirts with rubber bands into machine and run wash/agitate cycle for 1-2 minutes. Manually stop wash cycle and put in spin cycle until machine starts to spin faster and most water is drained. Stop spin cycle and place again in wash cycle with warm water. While machine is filling handle each shirt by placing under water flowing into machine and hand wringing/rinsing them. Let agitate for 1-2 minutes and place in spin again. Repeat the wash cycle while this time remove any remaining rubber bands from tie dye t-shirts. Spin and return to wash cycle one more time with hot water. Add a little more detergent and let machine go through complete cycle. Hang or machine dry and enjoy!