How to Tie-Dye With Food Coloring & Vinegar

    by Andrea Griffith

    About the Author

    Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.


    Tie-dying can be a fun project for kids and adults of all ages. True tie-dying needs not only dye, but also soda ash. If you're just looking to quickly and easily decorate a shirt or two, consider tie-dying with food coloring. One thing to keep in mind is that you should not use cotton clothing -- the food coloring will just wash out. Instead, use a fabric that is wool, silk or nylon.

    Things You'll Need

    • 4 cups white vinegar
    • Medium-sized bowl
    • 4 cups water
    • Rubber bands
    • Microwave safe dish or bowl
    • Plastic wrap

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    Pour 4 cups of white vinegar into a medium-sized bowl.

    Add 4 cups water to the bowl.

    Place the cloth or material into the vinegar/water solution. Soak the entire piece in the solution until saturated. Pull the cloth out and squeeze out the excess liquid.

    Tie the cloth in rubber bands in any pattern or shape you'd like, to create the tie-dye effect. The bound-off parts will not be dyed.

    Place the cloth in a microwave-safe dish or bowl. Drop different colors of food coloring over the entire cloth. Keep in mind that the colors should be placed in the electromagnetic spectrum of light order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, pink) to avoid turning the shirt into an orange-brown mess.

    Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place the dish in the microwave. Turn the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Watch the dish closely; once you see the plastic wrap inflate and condense, remove the dish from the microwave. Allow the cloth to rest for 1 minute.

    Place the dish back into the microwave for 5 minutes on reduced power. Continue to watch the cloth closely to ensure it does not steam too much or dry out.

    Take the dish out of the microwave and allow the cloth to cool.

    Rinse the cloth under cool water until the water runs clear.

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