How to Tie-Dye T-Shirts With Sharpies & Alcohol

    by Michael Batton Kaput

    About the Author

    Michael Batton Kaput began writing professionally in 2009. He is an editor at two magazines and a freelance writer. He has been published in "Egypt Today," Egypt's leading current affairs magazine, and "Business Today Egypt," Egypt's number one English-language business magazine. He attended Denison University where he earned a degree in political science and English literature.


    Even kids who start snoozing when science is mentioned will perk up at the mention of tie-dyeing their own T-shirts. Using permanent Sharpie brand markers and some rubbing alcohol, anyone can create beautiful tie-dye patterns on a white T-shirt. According to the Steve Spangler Science website, while Sharpie ink is not soluble in water, it is soluble in rubbing alcohol. This means that, thanks to some basic scientific principles, kids and adults alike can easily create spectacular tie-dye patterns without the mess.

    Things You'll Need

    • Plastic cup
    • Rubber band
    • Medicine dropper

    Stretch the section of your white T-shirt you want to tie-dye over the top of your cup. Wrap a rubber band around the shirt and the cup to secure it.

    Dot the center of the tie-dye area with Sharpie markers. Whatever colors you use, make sure the entire colored area is only about the size of a quarter.

    Apply rubbing alcohol (70 percent strength) with the dropper. Use only about 20 drops of alcohol. When applied to the marker, the alcohol will cause the ink to spread. Be sure the ink does not spread past the borders of the dyeing area.

    Allow the dyed area to dry for three to five minutes. Remove the rubber band and reapply to another section of the shirt. Repeat the process as many times as desired on different parts of the shirt.

    Place the T-shirt in a dryer for about 15 minutes after you have finished creating all of your tie-dyed designs.

    • Tie-dye using this method in a well-ventilated area to avoid excessive marker and alcohol fumes.

    Photo Credits