(for ages 5+, requires adult help)


  • Fiber-reactive dye in multiple colors (Squeeze bottles are the easiest form to use)
  • Plain white T-shirt
  • Rubber Bands
  • Eye droppers
  • Small bowl
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Plastic gloves
  • Plastic zip loc bags
  • Plastic tablecloths or large trash bags to protect your work surface

Recipe for Fun!

This play idea is a perfect activity for families or large groups of children to do together.

STEP 1: Provide each child with a white T-shirt. Modification: You can start small with white socks or go big and decorate a white sweatshirt!

STEP 2: Let the children create their own tie-dye designs on the shirts by folding, scrunching, or crumpling the fabric in anyway.

STEP 3: Help them to use the rubber bands to then tie up areas of the fabric item that have been folded together.

STEP 4: Using the squeeze bottles, have the children decorate the areas that are secured by the rubber bands.

STEP 5: Now, have an adult pour rubbing alcohol into a small bowl. Using the eye dropper, let the kids drop the alcohol onto their T-shirt design so it’s saturated. Watch as new colors appear!

STEP 6: Once you have finished, you need to give the dye time to react with the fabric. It’s important to keep the fabric damp and relatively warm. (The warmer the temperature of the fabric, the quicker the dye reaction.)

STEP 7: Using gloves to protect your hands, place the dyed fabric in a zip loc plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped fabric in a sunny spot and let the dye process for at least 6-8 hours. For the brightest colors, you can let the dye sit for up to 24 hours.

STEP 8: Once your garment is dry, leave the rubber bands on and rinse the garment under cold running water. Then, continue rinsing in cool/lukewarm water while you carefully remove the rubber bands. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. Lastly, run the garments through a complete warm/hot washing machine cycle – alone, without any other plain clothes.

Tye-Dye Tip: For the next couple of laundry loads, you’ll want to wash your tie-dyed clothing separately from the rest of your clothes. Then you can wash them with the rest of your colors.

This play activity was submitted by Happy Camper Live.