Learn How to Reverse Tie-Dye

Learn How to Reverse Tie-Dye

Unlike traditional tie-dye, reverse tie-dye uses Rit Color Remover to remove the color of your garment to reveal a unique, high-contrast pattern.


This technique must be done with Rit Color Remover. Accordingly, you can only reverse tie-dye cotton, linen, wool, rayon and ramie.

To get the most contrast, use a dark garment like a black sweatshirt.


  • Before dyeing, remove any visible stains on the fabric. This will help achieve uniform color results when dyeing. Prewash item in warm, soapy water without any fabric softener. This helps to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.
  • Gather supplies. We recommend using our Tie-Dye Accessory Kit, which includes 3 perfectly-sized squeeze bottles, 20 rubber bands, 2 pairs of gloves and a microwavable tray. You’ll also want to grab a baking rack so that the dye doesn’t puddle under the fabric when you apply it.
  • Cover work area with table cover and have paper towels handy to protect against any possible spills.
  • Lay damp fabric out on a flat surface.
  • Traditional spiral: decide where to place the center of the spiral. Then position your fingers around the center point and slowly begin to twist fabric in a spiral direction. Loosely wrap rubber bands around fabric to hold spiral together. The more rubber bands you use and the tighter they are wrapped, the more white space there will be.

  • Other Designs
  1. Scrunch: Scrunch a section the fabric and secure with rubber bands. The more tightly you secure the scrunch, the more white space you will see in the final result. Repeat scrunching various sections of the fabric. With each section, vary the amount of fabric scrunched. Continue until the majority of the fabric is scrunched. Now shape the fabric into a ball with more rubber bands.
  2. Kanoko or Bullseye (Video Here): Pinch a section of the fabric or where you want the center of the circle to be. Pull it up toward you to make a tee-pee shape. Then pull up more of the fabric for a larger circle. Close one hand around the point of the tee-pee and tie it off with a rubber band; then add rubber bands down the length of it.
  3. Stripes: Fold shirt vertically or diagonally, like an accordion or fan, in 2-3 inch /5-7.5 cm wide folds. Then wrap with rubber bands every 2-3 inches / 5-7.5 cm, or as desired.
  • Fill a stainless steel pot with enough water for the fabric to move freely. Cover pot and heat water on stove top to just below boiling (or around 200ºF / 93°C).
  • When water begins to simmer, add one packet of Rit Color Remover. Mix well.
  • Keep temperature at a low simmer.
  • Add bound item to the simmering bath.
  1. To create the spiral look as shown, dip half of the bound fabric into the bath.
  2. For Scrunch and Stripes, submerge the entire bound sweatshirt into the simmering Color Remover
  3. For Kanoko or Bullseye, only submerge the bound portion of the sweatshirt into the simmering Color Remover.
  • Stir occasionally. Some fabrics will lose their color in as fast as 10 minutes, others can take up to 20 minutes. Once your garment turns white or off-white, you can remove it from the bath.
  • Keeping the item bound, wash in warm water with mild detergent and leave damp.
  • Now it’s time to apply dye.
  • Wear rubber gloves to protect hands from getting stained
  • Prepare squeeze bottles with Rit All-Purpose Dye. Mix 2 tablespoons of well-shaken liquid dye or 1/2 teaspoon of powdered dye with two cups of hot tap water. Scale back the concentration to 1 tablespoon if using Rose Quartz or Tan.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • Pour into a squirt bottle. Shake well.
  • Repeat for each color.
  • Apply dyes in sections as desired.

  • Let the fabric sit for 30 minutes to allow the dye to absorb.
  • To set the dye, do the following while the fabric is still tied up:
  1. Optional: To set the dye, apply Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative with a squeeze bottle, which will enhance the colors and reduce bleeding. Mix 2 tablespoons / 30 mL of well-shaken ColorStay Dye Fixative with water and apply liberally to both sides of the fabric.
  2. We strongly recommend using your microwave, as long as the fabric does not have any metal parts on it. After applying ColorStay Dye Fixative, wrap the fabric in plastic wrap and seal the edges. Place the wrapped fabric on a paper towel in the microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Plastic will puff up, creating a heat chamber that helps bond the dye with the fabric. Once the microwave is done, remove the fabric and open the plastic, letting it cool down.
  3. If a microwave is not available or feasible to use, apply heat with a hair dryer for 5 minutes. Or, if it’s a a hot sunny day, lay the wrapped fabric out in the sun for an hour.
  • Rinse in cool water until rinse water begins to run clear. This is very important to prevent unabsorbed dye from bleeding into any white areas. If possible, rinse with the fabric bundle sitting flat on the baking rack. If it is held vertically, some of the unabsorbed dye could run into white areas as it is rinsed off.
  • Carefully remove rubber bands with a scissors and unfold the fabric

  • Wash in cold water with a mild detergent, rinse and dry.


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