Tie-dyeing is the process of creating patterns on fabric using natural dyes such as indigo, madder root, woad, logwood, etc.
The designs can be simple or complex depending on how much time you have available. There are several different ways to tie-dye shirts, but we will show you how to tie-dye t-shirts that are black in this article.
Although it is possible, it isn’t the usual way that you would with white shirts, as the different colors will struggle to show up in black. Instead, you are going to need to use two other methods such as bleach tie-dye and re-dye, which we will explore in this article.
Both methods mean removing some black dye to create designs. We analyze whether they have the same effect as dying white shirts and how effective they are. Let’s jump in.
Is It Possible To Tie-Dye Black Shirts?
Blackshirts can’t be tie-dyed like you would with a white shirt. That means that you can’t dye them into a rainbow or a single color. Black is already made up of different colors using transparent dyes, meaning extra colors and dyes you use on the shirt will not show up.
You can still reverse tie-dye or tie-dye with bleach. Bleaching the shirt will remove the color, and you can then create similar tie-dye patterns that you would when using colors. The pattern will just appear to be bleached instead of dyed.
Reverse tie-dying is not too difficult, but you need to take care, especially when using it with children, as bleach can be dangerous when it gets into contact with skin.
You will need to familiarize yourself with the process and be confident in each step.
How To Tie-Dye Black Shirt Using Bleach
Bleach can be dangerous. When used incorrectly, it can cause severe burns. Always wear gloves and goggles to protect your eyes and face. Wear clothes that won’t get stained by bleach, and make sure to wash all clothing after use.
Bleach can be powerful, even in small amounts, it contains a chemical called sodium hypochlorite and this can damage fabrics if left in for long periods.
If you want to try it out, test it first on an old piece of cloth. Bleach is also not recommended on synthetic fibers such as polyester. You also want to avoid using it on delicate fibers such as wool and silk because it can harm them.
The amount of bleach you need depends on the size of the shirt you’re tying. For example, a large adult shirt should require about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of bleach. This works out to around 4 tablespoons (60ml). However, it may vary slightly according to the brand of bleach you buy.
Tie-dyeing with bleach is very easy, but it does require patience and practice. Start slowly and work your way up until you feel comfortable doing it. You also want to do it in a well-ventilated area because there could be fumes released from the bleach.
These fumes can irritate your nose and throat. If you get bleach on your skin, rinse immediately with water and apply soap. You don’t want to leave the bleach sitting on the shirt either. After washing it, let it dry completely before storing it away.
Designing Your Shirt
Before you choose your design, you need to wash the shirt. This is because you need to remove dirt and chemicals that can interfere with the dye being absorbed.
You should let your shirt dry before dying, but it should be a little damp so the dye can be absorbed. After washing, you can begin designing.
You can decide what kind of design you want to put on the shirt. You can go for a simple design or something more complicated. You can design your patterns or choose from a pre-designed one.
There are many options available, so you can find something suitable on the internet. If you decide to use a pre-designed pattern, you can change the colors to suit your needs.
If you decide to design your pattern, you’ll need to know how to design shapes. You can download free templates online and print them out to follow along.
Techniques To Choose From
Now it’s time to choose a technique. There are three techniques commonly used when bleach tie-dyeing and each technique strips away a different amount of color. Consider this along with the design you have chosen.
You will need to dilute your bleach first. But you don’t want to use too much either. How you dilute the bleach depends on the technique you use.
Using A Squirt Bottle
This is the most common technique for tie-dying with colored dye, but you can use bleach instead. To make sure your design turns out exactly how you want it to, you should dilute the bleach in water using a two-to-one ratio.
Fill 2 thirds of your squirt bottle with water and fill the rest with bleach. As we have mentioned, bleach works by removing dyes from fabrics.
You need to squirt the bleach directly to the shirt. Apply the bleach to the areas you want to remove the dye.
Make sure to only apply the bleach to the areas where you want the dye removed. It will soak into the fabric and take around 15 minutes to remove all the black dye.
Using A Spray Bottle
Blackshirts can be bleached by spraying with diluted bleach. A spray bottle works well for this. Some types of bottles allow you to control the amount of liquid coming out.
This method can work regardless of whether you’ve created a design or you just want to create random effects. You will need to dilute your bleach using the same ratio as above before you get started.
Some spray bottles have different nozzle settings depending on which type you are using. For example, you can turn them to ‘stream’ or ‘spray.’ Stream will squirt more solution, while spray will let out thinner amounts of bleach solution.
Keep this in mind when determining the amount of black dye you need to get rid of and where you want to get rid of it.
If you have a design planned out, you can use the stream setting to remove color more quickly. But if you want to go for a speckled effect or something similar to this, using the spray setting is much better.
Spray the solution onto the shirt and wait for the color to begin changing and disappearing, this can take around 15 minutes. You can also imprint designs onto the shirt using stencils with this same technique.
Making A Bleach Bath
You can bleach shirts using a mixture of bleach and water. To do this, you’ll need to mix up some bleach (about 1/4 cup) and enough water (2 cups). Once mixed, you can then soak the shirt in the solution for about fifteen minutes. After that time, the color should be removed.
This process removes the color from the entire surface of the fabric. So if you want to remove the color from specific parts of the shirt, you may not want to use this technique.
You could however use it to remove the color from half the shirt, for example, to create a cool half-dye effect.
Rinsing The Shirt
After dipping and bathing your fabric in bleach, put your shirt into the bathroom sink or tub, and let it soak for about 5 minutes. Then, turn the faucet on full blast, and pour the rest of the bleach down the drain.
Let the water run for another few seconds, then stop pouring. Wring out the shirt, and hang it up to dry.
Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from bleach fumes and skin irritation when handling the fabric, and you will need to remember to completely unwrap and unfold the shirt after rinsing.
After washing out the bleach, you should throw away any extra clothing that got caught in bleach. If you were wearing gloves when you made the tie-dye, you should remove them before rinsing your clothes.
Neutralizing The Shirt
Bleach reacts quickly when exposed to water. After rinsing, the remaining bleach should be removed by wearing gloves and unfolding the shirt. Neutralizing it will stop it from reacting any further and taking even more of the color.
It can also stop the fibers from degrading over time. The best way to neutralize bleach from your shirt is to use hydrogen peroxide. Simply spray onto the affected areas and leave to soak in.
Washing The Shirt
Once your shirt has been completely neutralized, you can wash your shirt with detergent by hand or in the washing machine.
For the first couple of washes, you should wash the bleached shirt on its own in case some areas of bleach are still active and stain other clothes or ruin the washing machine.
Using Other Products To Remove Color
Bleach works great as a dye remover. You should wash your shirts before trying this method out. Make sure to rinse the shirt after washing it, too.
This method is effective, but due to the harsh chemicals, some people might be resistant to trying it.
If this is the case, you can also try to use Rit Color Remover which you can find on Amazon. This will still remove the color only in the places you want it removed. To do so, follow the instructions below:
1. Wash the shirt but avoid drying it. It still needs to be a little wet, and it will get wet when you use the color remover anyway.
2. Create your pattern to make sure that the color is only removed in the areas you desire.
3. Add a packet of color removal solution and stir it into boiling water when simmering.
4. Maintain the simmer of the water until the shirt is completely done.
5. Dip the shirt in the water and leave it in there for 15 minutes. Remember to stir it every so often.
6. Remove it from the water as soon as it begins to lose its color. Then, unwrap and completely unfold it.
7. Rinse the shirt thoroughly in warm water, then slowly cool the water while continuing rinsing the shirt until the water is clear.
8. Finally, wash the shirt with your regular detergent, and let the shirt dry. The shirt should be washed separately and dried out before being put back on.
Again, for the first couple of washes, you should wash the shirt on its own in case some areas of solution are still active and stain other clothes or ruin the washing machine.
Tie-Dying After Bleaching A Black Shirt
This technique is also used to dye clothing. You start by washing a piece of cloth. Then you remove the color from the shirt using an acid wash and bleach. Finally, you dye the shirt again using a new color.
When you do this, you need to make sure that you wash the piece of cloth before you dye it again. Otherwise, your second dye job won’t work properly. Bleach tie-dye is the easiest method to use to strip the fabric before re-dyeing.
After the first round of bleaching, you should rinse out the bleach. Then, you will need to neutralize the fabric. Then, you can start the second round of bleaching. After neutralizing the bleach, you can now re-dye the shirt.
After neutralizing the bleach, you do hot have to refold the shirt into the same design. You can just dye the whole shirt, and the colored dye will show up only on the bleached areas. It will not be noticeable to the eye on top of the black dye.
When you’re about to apply the dye, you should use the bath method. Tie-dyeing a shirt is not the same as bleaching it, so take note of the instructions on the tie-dye package of the brand of dye you choose. These will give you step-by-step instructions.
Bleaching a black shirt removes the color, but it doesn’t make the shirt entirely white. You’ll have some faded orange color. To get rid of the faded orange color, you need to dye the shirt again with a new color.
When you do this, you might however end up with a darker shade of the original color if you were to do it on white. This is because the second dye job won’t work as well on the old bleached areas.
Tie-Dyeing Colored Shirts
Just like you can tie-dye black shirts, you can also tie-dye other colors. However, the color determines how the shirt reacts to the dye. For example, if you tie-dye a light-colored shirt, it will probably turn out darker than it was before because the dye will absorb deeper into the fabric.
On the other hand, if you tie-dyed a dark-colored shirt, it wouldn’t change as much if the colors were too similar. Light and dark shirts will just react differently to dye.
Light-colored shirts can be tie-dyed the normal way we learn as kids, but note the colors may look slightly duller than they would on a plain white shirt.
Darker shades of tops will need to be bleach tie-dyed to remove the color, just like you would with a black shirt. You can always dye over the shirt, and there is more chance you will still be able to spot the dye on the parts that weren’t bleached.
To prevent this, you need to create and bleach the design into the shirt before you go and rinse and neutralize the bleach.
You will need to refold the shirt into the pattern you used before so you can dye the parts that you bleached earlier in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Method To Tie-Dye A Shirt That Is Black?
The best way is to use a bleach and water solution and follow one of our methods above. However, if you are resistant to the harsh chemicals in bleach, don’t be afraid to try out the Rit Color Remover.
Can You Tie-Dye Polyester?
Polyester is a synthetic material made from petrochemicals. The chemical structure of polyester makes it resistant to water. It’s very durable and easy to clean.
You can dye 100% polyester but only if you use the right methods and a special colorant that is supposed to be used on synthetic fabrics.
Can I Tie-Dye Any Fabric?
You can tie-dye your fabric using different methods. Some people prefer to use an actual tie-dye kit. Others prefer to use homemade solutions.
Certain fabrics are more resistant to the dyeing process, but as long as you use the correct materials and methods, you should garner some pretty cool results.
What Color Shirts Work Best For Tie-Dye?
Any color shirt works fine for tie-dyeing. White or off-white are good choices because they don’t fade when dyed. If you want to keep the shirt looking neat and clean, avoid bright colors like reds, greens, and blues. They tend to bleed through the fabric.
How Long Does A Tie-Dyed Shirt Last?
A tie-dyed shirt lasts longer than a regular one. Because the fabric has been dyed, it tends to last longer. But there are no guarantees. As long as you take care of the shirt properly, it should last at least 6 months.
How Do I Wash My Tie-Dyed T-Shirt?
Tie-dyed shirts are usually washed by hand. You can wash them in cold water with detergent and then hang them dry. Don’t tumble dry or iron.
For the first few washes, wash them on their own if you are using a washing machine because if you use the bleach method, the bleach could still be active, and if you have just tie-dyed or re-dyed, the dye could run and ruin other clothes.
Can I Use Bleach To Remove Colored Fabrics From Other Materials?
Yes, you can use bleach to remove colored materials from other things. You can even use bleach to remove ink stains from clothing.
How Can I Make My Tie-Dye Solution?
There are many ways to make your tie-dye solution. Here are some ideas:
1) Mix equal parts of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (3 parts H2O2 to 1 part vinegar). This is a great all-purpose solution for any kind of fabric.
2) Mix equal parts of ammonia and water. Add food coloring to get the desired shade.
3) Mix equal parts of baking soda and water. Add food color to get the desired shade
4) Mix equal parts of salt and water. Add food dye to get the desired shade
We hope after reading this article you have learned all there is to know about tie-dyeing black shirts, from how to do it, to what techniques suit what design, and if there is an alternative to bleach if you do not like using harsh chemicals.
Although it is tricky to dye a black shirt over a white shirt, it is still possible and as long as you are careful and follow our instructions, you could be on your way to designing some pretty funky shirts.
But remember, the most important thing is to have fun with it! Get creative and make those designs pop!