Reverse tie dying, a method that takes a piece of coloring and produces vibrant colors by dying with bleach, is a really fun method for some summer fun.
While it’s popular to use a black beach towel, you can use any solid color fabric pieces for a bleach tie-dyeing method and remove color with a bleach spray or remove color and then add bright color back in for incredible tie-dyed shirts.
TikTok Reverse Tie Dying
For the first time ever, we tried to tie dye a black towel. But not just bleach tie-dye the black towel, bleach it, and then tie-dye over it with color. We shared many of our tie-dye adventures with TikTok and most of them went viral! So you can thank us for being part of the 2019 Tie Dye Summer Craze and we are pretty excited to bring it to you here on our new viral blog, which includes viral crafts and viral recipes.
To be honest, we were really unsure what to expect or how the bleach would overall affect the tie-dye in the end. Now that its over, I would say that
- It takes a little time because you have to go through the bleaching process first
- It was totally worth it and we would do it again!
- Here are our two TikToks showing exactly how we did this method.
Reverse Tie Dying Products
Before you get started, you need a few products for the project:
- Black Towel (we got ours at Target)
- Tie Dye Kit– We recommend this one because it has a ton of dye colors, a squeeze bottle, and gloves.
- Reverse Tie Dye Kit – If you prefer to skip working with straight bleach, this kit works great! More of this method below.
- Always tie dye and work with bleach in a well-ventilated area. Liquid bleach is a strong chemical and you must use caution.
- No matter the bleach solution you work with, its best to use a spray bottle or squirt bottle and rubber gloves to be sure that you do not have skin irritation. Excess bleach can get onto the skin so we recommend this viral craft idea, while fun, should be attempted by teenagers and older plus supervised by an adult.
What else can I tie-dye with bleach?
Towels are a popular choice to tie-dye with bleach – and not just black. Any solid color goes great with a black tie-dye because the colors really pop!
Additionally, try black hoodies, black socks, black shirts, black kitchen towels, and even a black pillowcase! Because bleach can harm delicate fabrics, we use this simple technique with stronger items and thicker materials to be safe. Once you understand the black bleach technique, you can get creative with fun patterns and ideas.
How to Reverse Tie Dye with Bleach
Reverse tie-dying, or bleaching black (or any other color) is its own set of tie-dying techniques.
- Depending on the bleach patterns you want, fold a dry shirt, towel, hoodie, pants (whatever it is you tie-dye), tighten REALLY good with string or rubber bands. When working with a towel, string works best as bringing multiple rubber bands over a long towel can be tedious. Then fold up in a spiral pattern. Decide the folding pattern and proceed. There are many folding patterns and dye techniques to produce specific shapes online but the most fun is to just ‘wing it‘ and see what you get.
- Once the material is tied or crumbled, it’s time to proceed with bleach. We put straight bleach in dye bottles right onto the material. We personally do not prefer to water down bleach as it can take longer to dye through the black. Carefully squeeze bleach only onto the areas that you want to dye.
- The bleach now has to process fully. When adding straight color onto the tie-dyed spots, once it lightens to a lighter orange you can rinse and proceed, but if wanting to use it with bleach areas showing, it’s best to leave it to process for 2-4 hours.
- After the bleach is fully rinsed out of the towel (in this case) simply tie-dye as normal. We placed our tie-dyed towel into a plastic bag and sealed it for 24 hours before unfolding.
- Rinse super well and wash in a washing machine (alone) with a mild detergent. Gorgeous!
What is reverse tie-dye?
Reverse tie-dye is a process that instead of adding straight color, removes color or removes color and then adds color back in. I love doing a reverse tie dye on a black fabric item and then adding color back in!
What color will the bleach turn?
It’s a misnomer that a bleach solution will turn completely white. In some cases, it’s processing time and the material will go through stages from a brown color to an orange color, to eventually a white or beige. Kinda like dying hair! But it can also be dependant on the dye and the type of fabric of what you are dying. There is no consistent result when you bleach.
Is it Tie Dying or Tie Dyeing?
Technically the word is Tie DYEING because a tie is not dying. But to be fair it’s pretty confusing and people look up both words so you will find them interchangeable in this post, helping people find this method.
Expert Tips when working with Bleach
- The first tip when tye dying is to HAVE FUN. Be safe and have fun. There are some super amazing patterns and shapes that can be done with tie dying but to get started with reverse, its all about designing what works for you.
- If you want to get rid of all the bleached areas you will have to work through the dye in the creases and folds.
- Be aware that a wet towel or hoodie will SPREAD dye a lot more easily. Tight rubberbands help the spread stop but also using dry materieals.
Alternative Methods for Non-Bleach Reverse Die Dying
Tulip® Reverse Tie-dye Kit
We purchased the Reverse Dye Kit at Micheal’s for about $10. The kit comes with what we would call a chlorine solution (smells JUST like a pool) in a powder form that you add water to.
- Check Kit Price at Micheals
- Check Kit Price at Hobby Lobby
Reverse Tie-dye Kit Tutorial
*Follow instructions on the crafting kit*
- The kit will come with some bottles of powder. Add water to the fill line and shake until powder is resolved.
- Pick a design and properly rubber band your shirt. Place in bin, like this disposable bin below.
- Add gloves to your hands and pour bleach mixture to the shirt, pushing into the material until saturated.
- Let process until the amount of lighting you want. The process we used was about 3 hours.
- Remove rubber bands with scissors.
- Rinse in cold water, wash, and dry.
Now your reverse dye is ready! Here is Charlotte showing off the one we made!
Results May Vary….
One thing we have learned is that how well your shirt dyes is really up to the material that it is. We have tried to reverse dye a hoodie that was a sports material and it did NOT work. Cotton blends seem to work the best when it comes to reverse dye.
Best places for Tie Dye Shirts
All of the craft stores sell full T-shirts for tie dying, however, if you want something more fashionable to wear like Charlotte has on, you can find crop tops or smaller shirts very inexpensively at
- Aeropostale (ours were $6)
- Tilly’s (5 for $25)
- American Eagle $12
- Charlotte Russe $6-$8
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