How to dye your own clothes (when you have never, ever done anything like it before)

Here’s a dull story for you: I had this shirt that I really liked that was olive green. I wore it once, and shortly thereafter got toothpaste or acne medicine or something else that hates my fashion sense all over the boob-part of the shirt. I was devastated. There was a giant orange stain where my cleavage should be, and I thought it was a lost cause. THEN, I decided I could save my shirt, and an old pair of jeans that faded in a non-sexy way by experimenting with DYEING MY OWN CLOTHES. See how far confidence brings you, people?

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This is the shirt. It used to be green. Now it is blue. 

Here is what I have learned:

  1. Buy fabric dye. Make sure it will work for fabric type and quantity of clothing. Some dyes require salt or soda ash to activate, so read all of the instructions and make sure you have everything you’re going to need. Oh, and any quantity of salt over a cup is an metric fucktonne of salt, and you probably don’t have that just laying around the house.
  2. Wash the clothes you’re about to dye. Deodorant and grease and other delicious things can prevent the dye from *penetrating* (hott) the fabric. The directions say to leave it damp after washing, but how that is different than just wetting is beyond me.
  3. PUT ON GLOVES RIGHT NOW. If you think you’re a graceful person who won’t make a mess or a gross person who thinks she can live with a little dye on her hands, YOU ARE WRONG. I suggest using kitchen gloves so you don’t have to buy anything new.
    Real life photo of my hand after my first venture into fabric dyeing.  
  4. Figure out what you’re going to be dyeing in. A washing machine is going to be the easiest option by far, and if you’re worried about permanently staining the washer or it being hard to clean out, chill. It washes out pretty easily. If you’re not using a washer, though, make sure 1. It can fit in your bathtub unless you want your entire apartment to turn blue and 2. It does not have hole in the bottom. I learned this the hard way when I tried to use my recycling can. Line with a garbage bag if you’re not sure, and put it in the bathtub just in case.
  5. Follow all of the instructions on the packet of dye. Live your truth. Every dye is different. Just don’t cut corners with wait times because the dye may not stick as well as you want it to.
  6. Clean everything that has turned blue. I recommend rinsing out your dyed garment very well, and then using it to mop up all of the blue water that’s in your bathroom/laundry room. That way you don’t risk ruining a very precious rag.
  7. Wash everything until there’s very little dye coming out when you rinse. Then blow a load of all darks to clean out your washer, or only wash your dyed garment with black clothing for a few cycles. I got blue dye all over a pair of striped socks. Who cares, though? They are socks, and there are more important things to worry about. Like Syria and the overuse of antibiotics.

YOU ARE DONE, CONGRATS! Hey, even if you ruined this shirt, you were probably dyeing it because it was already ruined anyway. If you ruined anything else, just dye that next.

Reasons this is a good idea:

  1. You spent less than $10 on dye and supplies instead of more money on a new shirt.
  2. You really liked that shirt before you got all your bleachy acne medication on it.
  3. Do they produce dye in sweatshops? Who knows? But, hey at least you’re giving money to the creative art product industry and not the fast fashion industry.
  4. Your friends will you think you are v artsy and DIY although this was very easy and motivated out of cheap and greenness.