like they said, soda ash. mix it in like a 5gal bucket and soak whatever your dyin for like 5minutes
then untie it right after and let it dry in the sun a bit
then soak it in vineager before you wash it
Step 1. Wash new fabric to remove any sizing or oils on the fabric that may interfere with the dye.
Note: We include this instruction, because it is a long standing recommendation in fabric dyeing. It is the one instruction that we NEVER follow ourselves when tie dying. Unless you are really concerned about the fitness of the fabric for tie dye, you don't need to bother washing the fabric first.
Step 2. Prepare Fixer Water and Soak Fabric. In a plastic bucket, or other suitable container. Mix 3/4 cup Dye Fixer per gallon of warm water. Expand this recipe as needed i.e.: 1 & 1/2 cups dye fixer in 2 gallons warm water. Etc. Dye fixer is a chemical called sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate is a common chemical which is the main ingredient in things like laundry detergent and bubble bath. Treat it as you would a strong soap. Wear gloves to keep it from irritating your skin, and avoid splashing it in eyes to avoid irritation and burning. After preparing this mixture, soak the material to be dyed in the dye fixer/water solution. We have found that it doesn't matter too much how long you soak the fabric in the fixer solution. Use whatever time makes sense to you and your project timing. If you can let the fabric soak 5 minutes, that's fine. If you let it soak overnight, that's probably okay too. If you only have time to dip the fabric in the fixer, that's not the ideal. But you will still be successful. Do not worry if you do not have room to soak all of the pieces you plan to dye in one batch. You can reuse the fixer water and treat several batches of fabric in the same mixture.
Step 3. Remove fabric from fixer water solution. Wring out excess fixer water back into the fixer water bucket because you can reuse it.
Note: The dye spreads on the fabric in different ways depending on how wet the fabric is with "fixer water" before you squirt on the dye. Wetter fabric causes the dye to "flow" out into fabric in more feathery or marbled patterns. Dryer fabric yields cleaner lines and less spreading. Different dye patterns look better with different fixer wetness levels in the fabric. Marble patterns look better when starting with a wetter shirt because the dye flows out into the fabric in interesting random shapes. Striped patterns look better when applied to a dryer shirt, as strips tend to look better with cleaner lines and spots.
Step 4. Place wet "fixed" fabric on dyeing surface and "fold, twist, or tie" as desired. A printed instruction book with tying illustrations will be sent with your order.
Step 5. Prepare "chemical water". In 1 quart warm water, mix 3/4 cup Urea, 2 teaspoons Ludigol, and an optional 1 teaspoon Water Softener. This will be the "chemical water" you will mix your dye powders with to make your dye colors. If you do not have the chemicals for "chemical water", you will mix the dye powders with plain warm water.
Step 6. Mix dye colors. You control how bright and strong or how light or pastel your dye colors are by how much dye powder you mix in your concentrated dye solutions. Remember, in this stage, you are not making big buckets full of dye. You will be mixing small concentrated cups of dye. See our sections on "how much dye should I mix" on this web site for ideas on how much dye to mix for your particular project. In general, you will be mixing dye powder with "chemical water" in cups, bottles, or other small containers.
For Bright Strong colors, Mix 4 to 6 teaspoons dye powder per cup of chemical water. For Medium shades, Mix 2 to 4 teaspoons dye powder per cup of chemical water. For light or pastel shades, Mix 1/4 to 2 teaspoons of dye powder per cup of chemical water. Many of our dyes these days are EXTREMELY concentrated and so the lower end of these ranges can often be used.
Dye powders have different densities. That is why the same weight of dye can come in different sized jars. Some dyes are dense and powdery. These dyes can use the smaller number of teaspoons to reach the same brightness. Stir dye well to dissolve dye powder completely.
Step 7. With fabric on dyeing surface, apply dye to fabric by squirting dye onto the fabric with a pipette, squeeze bottle, or other dye squirting tool. Most dyeing patterns call for saturating the fabric with dye. The mistake most beginners make is to not squirt enough dye into the fabric. Apply all the different colors at this time. Flip the fabric over and apply dye to both sides of the fabric. Usually saturating each side of the fabric.
Step 8. After you are done dyeing the fabric, leave it alone. Do not untie it. Do not hang it up to dry. Leave it tied up, and leave it alone. Let the fabric sit for 2 to 24 hours. The length of time you let the fabric sit is not overly critical. Just let the fabric sit for as long as your dyeing time frame dictates. If you Tie-dye in the evening, let the fabric sit overnight, then wash out the loose dye in the morning. If you are in a hurry, let the fabric sit for as long as your deadline will allow. Then wash out the loose dye. I do find that if you let the fabric sit overnight before you wash out the loose dye, then it is easier to wash out the loose dye and keep the colors from running.
Step 9. Wash loose dye from fabric. The best and easiest way to wash out the loose dye from your project, is with synthrapol detergent. When using synthrapol, first fill your washing machine with cold water. Add anywhere from 1 tbs. to 1/4 cup synthrapol to the wash water. The more dye you are attempting to wash out, the more synthrapol you will use. If you only dyed a few T-shirts, use less synthrapol. You will only use as much as 1/4 cup synthrapol if you are washing a full load of heavily dyed T-shirts Synthrapol is a very concentrated and sudsy detergent. A little goes a long way. Untie fabric and add fabric to the sudsy wash water. Wear gloves still when handling the fabric because the dye will still stain until washed. You may wash several pieces up to about 2/3rds of a full load, even if washing different colors. A lot of loose dye will wash off the fabric. This is normal. The wash water will turn black or brown, and the fabric will look discolored with "dirty" dye. Synthrapol detergent should keep this dirty water from staining your dye project but you can overload the synthrapol and try to wash out too much dye at once so use common sense and wash smaller rather than larger loads if you have heavily dyed fabric. Wash the fabric as you would any normal wash load. When the washing machine turns off, leave the fabric in the machine. Refill with warm water, and a tiny amount of synthrapol if necessary (maybe a capful, I always just add an unmeasured "shot".) Wash fabric a second time. During the rinse cycle, look inside the washer, and see how much loose dye is still coming out of the fabric. Wash the fabric as many times as necessary until all the loose dye is removed. You will know all the loose dye is washed out when you look in a rinse cycle and the water is clear.
If you do not have synthrapol detergent, rinse out loose dye in a sink with cold running water. Leave fabric tied up. Wear gloves. Put fabric in sink and flood with cold running water. A lot of loose dye will flow out of the fabric. This is normal. Rinse with running water until you've rinsed most loose dye out of the fabric. Then untie the fabric, increase the rinse water temperature to warm, and continue to rinse fabric until you get sick of rinsing. Then wash fabric separately in a washing machine with fabric detergent until all loose dye is removed and the rinse cycle water is clear.
You are finished! Dry as you would any normal fabric and enjoy!