100 Days of Science #88-- Tie Dying Science

We've tie dyed shirts a few times in the past for a fun summer project but when I stumbled upon a small article on Steve Spangler about the science of tie dying, I just knew we had to try one more time for a fun SCIENCE project!  

This time we soaked our shirts in a water and washing soda bath before dying them.  The washing soda opens up the areas of the cotton where the dyes chemically bond allowing for a better, color fast batch of shirts.  You only need to soak the shirts for 30 minutes but we left them in the bath overnight. 

The next morning we wrung all the water we could out of shirts and decided on how we wanted to fold or roll them up for our patterns.  Once rolled we brought them out onto the sand using a drying rack placed over a cookie sheet to try and contain any mess.

Evan chose to roll his top around an old cardboard tube and scrunch it in the middle... now we should have wrapped the tube in plastic wrap or something before doing this because the cardboard itself left some dye on the shirt when we were all done.  However, never having tried this we just followed the directions and hoped for the best.

I wanted rainbow stripes so I rolled my shirt and secured it with elastic bands all the way down to the bottom.

We picked out our colors from this tie dye kit we ordered and got them all ready.

Then we began adding colors to our shirts until we had the as saturated as we wanted.

These tubes really did make it easy to apply color right where we wanted it.

The boys also worked together to make a shirt for their grandmother for her birthday.

Once our shirts were all done we rolled them up in plastic wrap and set them in Ziploc bags overnight.

The next day we rinsed each shirt with the hose until the water ran clean and then washed and dried each shirt in the washing machine.  

They came out great!

Here's the shirt they made for my mother- in- law

My shirt

The boys' shirts

Basically what we understood is that tie dying is a chemical reaction where the dyes and the fabric molecules bond together so that the dye actually becomes part of the fabric.  

Have you ever tried tie dying?  How about ice cube tie dying?!

Others in this series:
58.  Exploding Snow and Water Baggies 
59.  Exploring Properties of Minerals
60.  Visiting the Hartford Science Museum
61- 63.  3 Difference Bridge Challenges
64.  Making Models of the Earth's Layers 
65.  Graham Cracker Plate Tectonics 
66.  Homemade Lava Lamps
67.  Movies We're Watching for Science
68.  Index Card Tower Challenge 
69.  Learning Botany at the Botanical Gardens
70.  Board Games for Science
71.  Homemade Frozen Yogurt Pops
72.  Starburst Rock Cycle 
73.  & 74.  Making Marshmallows Sink and Grow
75. Jumping Conversation Hearts
76-78.  Making Paper Airplanes 3 Different Ways 
79.  Learning About Hummingbirds
80.  Planting an Herb Garden
81.  Mushroom Spores
82.-84.  Penny Saturation Experiment
85.  Sink or Float?
86.  Disappearing and Re-Appearing Ink
87.  Sediment Layer Jars 


  1. The shirts turned out really pretty! What a fun project!

  2. This looks like fun. My girls would love doing this. Saving it for later.

    1. It is a lot of fun and keeping it outside helps cut down on the mess.

  3. We've made some a few times but it has been a couple years! We sure need to make some next summer! These came out great!

    1. Thank you! I think this might have been the last year any of my boys would have been willing to make tie dye so I'm glad we added it to our list.

  4. Thanks for the detailed steps. - Margy

  5. Turned out great!

    1. Thank you! We were pleased with how vibrant the colors stayed this time.

  6. Great tutorial! This is a fun project!

  7. Thank you for sharing at #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too!

  8. Your tie dyed shirts turned out great. So much fun. Congrats, you are being featured on Thursday Favorite Things. https://www.eclecticredbarn.com/2019/08/thursday-favorite-things_22.html

  9. What a fun experiment. I love how they all turned out. Great t-shirts :) Thanks for sharing at The Wednesday Blog Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow for the link up.


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