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How to Tie Dye Indoors

There’s no doubt that tie dyeing is the ultimate summer craft (rivaled only by friendship bracelets, in our opinion!), but there’s no reason to pack away your tie dye supplies with your bathing suits and sandals!

Tie dyeing inside at home during colder months is easy and can be done with minimal mess–if you have a gameplan. Enter: this blog post!

After teaching countless virtual tie dye workshops from our kitchens, bedrooms, and offices, and tie dyeing on our own in our bathtubs, laundry rooms, and basements, we here at The Neon Tea Party have proudly become pseudo-experts on the topic of how to safely and neatly tie dye indoors!

If you’ve felt hesitant about setting up tie dye indoors, we hope this post will empower you to move past those fears and partake in this colorful, joyful craft during the time of year when our souls need it most!

You can find all of our tie dye tutorials here!

HOW TO TIE DYE INDOORS – SAFELY & NEATLY

SET UP YOUR SPACE FOR SUCCESS

Choose a place in your home that isn’t a big deal if you have an accidental spill or squirt. The keys are that this room should 1) have hard floors–no carpet or rug, and 2) be generally mess-friendly. Some of our favorite places to tie dye indoors are:

  • kitchen – kitchen table or counter top
  • laundry room – on the floor, in a slop sink, or on top of a laundry machine
  • bathroom – on the floor or in the tub
  • playroom – on the floor or craft/activity table
  • basement – on the floor or on a folding table
  • garage – on a folding table

Cover your workspace in plastic. You’ll of course want to protect whatever surface you’re dyeing on — and in this case, a liquid-resistant covering is your best friend. Cover your table/counter/floor/etc with a plastic tablecloth (included in our Tie Dye Kits!) or cut open a large garbage bag or two. You can tape down your plastic covering to be extra secure, especially if you’re tie dyeing with younger children.

If you’re crafting on a table or counter and want to be extra neat, you can also cover your floor with a plastic tarp. We like these ones, which you can easily cut to size. Bonus tip: You can easily wipe down and reuse plastic tablecloths and thick plastic tarps! We do it all the time!

Choose your designated tie dye sink. This is the sink in which you’ll fill and rinse your dye bottles and dump any excess dye or dye water. There are a few important things to note when choosing your tie dye sink:

  • It should be a sink that you are fine with getting a little messy. Here are some of our favorite sinks to use for indoor tie dye:
    • utility or laundry room sink
    • bathroom sink
    • bathtub or shower
  • If at all possible, don’t use your kitchen sink. We are big proponents of not cross-contaminating dye with items used for cooking and eating. While filling your bottles with water and carefully dumping dye directly down the drain are okay, avoid getting dye all over the surface of your kitchen sink where you wash your dishes.
  • Make sure you don’t have to cross through a nice room to get from your tie dye station to your tie dye sink. The last thing you want to happen is for dye to accidentally drip onto your beautiful carpeted floor on your way to rinse your tie dye items!

GEAR YOU’LL NEED

Gloves & an apron or smock. No matter where you’re dyeing, you’ll need to protect your hands and your body by wearing rubber gloves and an apron or smock. Also, avoid wearing clothes you wouldn’t want to get dye on–we recommend old grubby clothes, something that’s already tie dye, or all black.

Tie dye squeeze bottles. Using squeeze bottles rather than buckets of dye is one of the best ways to prevent major spills and aim your dye directly at your fabric. See the next section under “Tips for neatly using tie dye bottles” for more on this topic!

Tie dye rack. A tie dye rack is a metal cooling rack you place on a tray with tall sides, over which you tie dye to catch excess dye while preventing the pooling dye from getting on the underside of your fabric. You can find our favorite tie dye rack here or DIY your own setup! WARNING: DO NOT use items to prepare food after using them for tie dye.

Paper towels or rags. To wipe up drips, remove bottle cap tips, and anything else you need them for!

Plastic bags and/or plastic wrap. Place your dyed items in sealed plastic bags or wrap up in plastic wrap. If going with the plastic wrap method, be sure to place items in a plastic bin to transport them to your tie dye sink

Plastic bins. If your tie dye station is a ways away from your tie dye sink, we recommend having a plastic bin or two on hand in which to pre-dump your dye (ESPECIALLY from your tie dye rack!), corral drippy bottles, and even shuttle your bagged up tie dye items.

KEEPING THINGS NEAT WHILE YOU DYE

Create a clean station and a messy station, or do all the clean stuff first, followed by the messy stuff. “Clean stuff” refers to everything before introducing dye into the picture including dampening your items and binding them up with rubber bands. We recommend making one part of your station your clean station (or do all the clean stuff first), and all the dyeing at another part of your station (or do all the messy stuff second.) This prevents unwanted dye from getting on undyed items, dye drips going where you don’t want them to go, and other sorts of dramas like this!

Use that tie dye rack! We can’t emphasize enough that tie dye racks are game. changers. when it comes to tie dyeing indoors. They catch all dye that drips down, which you can then pour into a plastic bin and shuttle to your tie dye sink.

Wipe up dye spills as you go. Have paper towels or rags handy and wipe up spills as you go, for the same reasoning as the previous tip!

Tips for neatly using tie dye bottles: While tie dye bottles are our preferred method of indoor dyeing, stray spills and squirts are absolutely possible. Here’s how to prevent them from happening:

  • Make sure your lid is on tight!
  • When you shake up your dye be sure the tip opening is covered, either by the cap or with a paper towel or rag.
  • Remove the tip cap with a paper towel or rag. Trust us. The dye tends to squirt out a little when you remove it, so doing so with a cloth will catch any surprise dye squirt.
  • Littles and dye bottles can be a tricky mix, especially when dyeing indoors. Young children tend to squeeze their dye before aiming directly at their fabric and often like to squeeze out a little too much dye. (We can’t blame them — it’s so much fun!) When dyeing with littles, you can tie dye over a plastic bin to catch any accidents, or simply help guide their squeezing.

RINSING & WASHING WITH MINIMAL MESS

Wear gloves when rinsing out dyed items to prevent dye from staining skin!

Rinse items in your designated tie dye sink, bathtub, or even shower! Some of our friends have shared that rinsing tie dye in the bathtub or shower with kids is a great way to include them in the fun of the tie dye “reveal” while keeping the watery dye contained to an easy-to-clean space.

Use a plastic bin to shuttle your rinsed items to your washing machine.

Wash and dry newly tie dyed items separately from the rest of your laundry. Find more tips on neatly washing and drying your tie dyed items here!

CLEAN-UP

Rinse off your bottles (even if there’s still dye in them) and store them in a plastic bin – perhaps the same one you used while dyeing! Should any dye be left on the bottles, the bin will catch it and prevent it from getting on any surfaces.

Rinse any other items (tie dye rack, measuring spoons, etc) and store all reusable tie dye items in a mess-approved location. Another plastic bin can come in handy here!

Wipe your plastic covering thoroughly, especially if you want to reuse it! Dye powder is especially sneaky–it can be hard to see but is as messy (or even messier) than liquid dye. Wipe up thoroughly to remove all dye matter from your plastic covering.

Dispose of all single-use items, including dye packaging and single-use gloves that cannot be re-worn.

Bleach-based cleaner is your best bet for removing errant dye. If you do experience a spill or leak (when you tie dye enough, it’s bound to happen some time) or notice a slight color tinge in your tie dye sink or tub, a bleach-based cleaner is your best friend — it even works its magic on grout! Something like this is perfect.

We super hope that these tips give you the confidence to tie dye all year long! If you have any other tips for tie dyeing indoors, be sure to drop them in the comments below!

Show us how you’re tie dyeing indoors by tagging us on Instagram @theneonteaparty!

Happy (indoor) dyeing!!!

Peace, love & neon,
Marisa

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