Learn How to Ice-Dye Fabric in 3 Simple Steps

This easy process results in the prettiest patterns!

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 minutes
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

Give plain cotton tea towels, clothing, or a piece of natural fabric a sophisticated upgrade with this fun and simple DIY. This ice dyeing technique makes it easy to create vibrant tie-dye patterns on fabrics and clothing. We’ll teach you how to combine your favorite material, ice, and powdered fabric dye packets to make an effortless tie-dye pattern. It’s as easy as topping crumpled fabric with crushed ice and letting it melt! With just a few inexpensive supplies, you can create ice tie-dye projects. The result is a pretty watercolor pattern that can be as bold or as subtle as you like.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Rubber gloves
  • 1 Plastic drop cloth
  • 1 Baking cooling rack
  • 1 Glass pan

Materials

  • 1 Soda ash
  • 1 Natural fabrics, such as cotton, muslin, and linen
  • 1 Ice cubes
  • 1 Rit dye packets
  • 1 Color fixative

Instructions

  1. Prep Work Space

    shredded materials
    Carson Downing

    Wash fabric first, then soak in a solution of 1-gallon water and 1 cup soda ash (such as Tulip Soda Ash, $8, Joann) so the fabric will better accept the dye. Always wear gloves when working with soda ash, which can irritate the skin. To start dyeing, cover your work area with a plastic drop cloth and have paper towels handy to manage spills. Thoroughly moisten fabric, then crumple and place onto a baking cooling rack set on top of a glass baking pan.

    Editor's Tip: Natural fabrics, such as cotton, muslin, and linen accept dye best. Experiment with fabric folding and rubber band techniques. Roll into a spiral for a traditional tie-dye look, gather into tufts for a bull's-eye effect, or fold into a square for a checkered pattern.

  2. Cover with Ice Cubes

    Completely cover the fabric with ice cubes. For greater coverage, use crushed or pulverized ice instead of regular cubes and place the project in a warm area. The more surface area covered by ice, the more fabric you'll dye. Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, open a small corner of a powder dye packet and distribute it across the ice as if you're sprinkling salt. Repeat with other colors (we used four different Rit Dye Powders, $2, Joann).

  3. Let Ice Melt

    materials dyed blue and green
    Carson Downing

    Let the ice completely melt, then use a color fixative (such as Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative, $5, Michaels) to rinse the fabric to prevent bleeding or fading. Wash the dyed fabric in warm water with a mild detergent. Rinse, and air-dry away from heat or direct sunlight. Try using this ice-dyeing technique to create custom home decor like tea towels, linen napkins, or DIY curtains. It also works on cotton clothing like t-shirts and sweatshirts.

    Related: How to Make Natural Fabric Dyes

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