Less Mess Quarantine Tie-Dye with Kids

Yesterday during little brother’s nap time, Ella and I decided to try out tie-dye! I came across a tie-dye kit on Amazon and since I haven’t done this since I was a kid, I was pretty excited to give it a try. What I was not excited about? Bottles of permanent dye in Ella’s 3 (almost 4) year old hands! So I went to trusty Pinterest to search for a less messy option. After posting our results on Instagram, I got a couple of requests to spell out the process – so here it is! Can’t wait to see your creations!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through any link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.


All From Amazon, but most likely can be found elsewhere as well. There are several options for the dye kit – this one has the most colors. The children’s shirts were true to size. The adult shirts ran slightly small.


  1. Set up your work space. We used a 28qt Sterilite bin with a cooling rack set over the top. The cooling rack helps prevent the colors from running together, versus just laying the shirts in the bin. The bin is just a vessel to catch the excess liquid that leaks down from the shirts. I also saw people using a cooling rack over a Pyrex pan. If you have two cooling racks and are doing more than one shirt at a time, I would suggest using both and putting one shirt on each rack. We only had one cooling rack and it was a bit snug with both shirts on it.
  2. Wet the shirts. We completely soaked and rung out both shirts. I also saw some people pre washing the shirts, but we did not. After they are wet, place them on the cooling racks. You want them somewhat scrunched up, but loose enough so that the color can get in everywhere. The more scrunched, the more white you will end up with left behind.
  3. Completely cover the shirts with ICE CUBES. This is where the less messy method comes in. You are going to use the powder dye packets instead of using a liquid dye. That’s certainly less room for spills and well-meaning squirts all over your kitchen table! The ice will take the place of the liquid in the dye bottles.
  4. Once you have the ice ready to go over the shirts, put on the gloves (for good measure), and begin spraying the powder over the shirts. We did this in random patterns and were able to squirt the powder out of the bottles without having to remove the lids. Ella did this part all by herself, which was really fun.
  1. After you have as much color as you’d like over the shirts, completely cover them with Saran wrap. I just wrapped the Saran wrap over the top of the shirts and under the cooling rack. I also put an old towel under the Sterlite bin just in case there were extra drippings.
  1. Let sit for 6-8 hours. I let them sit for 8, but if you want more of a pastel color I would do less time.
  2. At this point you need to completely rinse the shirts under water until the color is no longer bleeding from the fabric. I did this in our shower with the gloves back on.
  3. Last step – wash the shirts on a cold cycle in the washing machine with a small amount of laundry detergent, dry, and wear!

I was fairly surprised how easy this was and how well the shirts came out. With the exception of the bin of dye drippings you have leftover, there was seriously no mess with this method! Very little clean up, which I always appreciate after a kid’s craft. My husband and son like our shirts so much, Ella and I plan on making them their own next week! Happy quarantine crafting!

Leave a Reply