How to Dye a Dress Shirt

by Louise Lawson

A nice dress shirt can either make or break your outfit. Even the best-pressed shirt can throw off your entire ensemble if it is the wrong color, although finding just the right shade can often be a challenge. Dying your favorite dress shirt to achieve a particular shade can give you a well-dressed, polished look.

Items you will need

  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Dress shirt
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric dye
  • Spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old towels
Step 1

Wash the shirt to make sure it is free of dirt and oils that may prevent the dye from settling into the fabric. Place it in the washing machine and wash on the regular cycle, drying it on low in the dryer to remove excess moisture. Many dress shirts are made with fancy buttons, so place the shirt in a mesh laundry bag before washing to prevent damage.

Step 2

Turn the washer on to allow it to fill with hot water just as you would for a normal wash cycle, turning it off before the cycle begins. Pour your dye into the water and stir it with a large spoon to evenly distribute the dye throughout the water. Let the dye sit for at least 10 minutes to fully activate.

Step 3

Place your shirt into the washer, pressing it down to make sure every portion of the fabric is submerged in the water. Close the lid, and allow the washer to run, stopping it before the spin cycle starts. Dress shirts are often 30 of closely woven cotton that can be difficult to dye, so allow the shirt to rest in the water for at least thirty minutes to ensure the color penetrates the entire garment. You can achieve a darker, richer shade by leaving your shirt in the water for up to an hour if you so desire.

Step 4

Restart the washer, and let it run a full cycle. The spin cycle will force the dye deeper into the fibers, and the rinse cycle will wash away any unused dye. Do not add any detergent to the washer, as this can remove the dye from your shirt.

Step 5

Slip on a pair of rubber gloves before removing your shirt from the washer to prevent staining yourself with the dye. Lay a few old towels down on a flat surface and remove the laundry bag from the washer, spreading your shirt out over the towels at the end of the wash cycle. Let the shirt air dry overnight to let the dye fully penetrate the fibers. Be sure the towels are ones that you do not use often because the dye can seep down into them as your newly dyed dress shirt dries.

Tips

  • You can use two boxes of dye if you want a deep, rich shade. Colors such as red and blue often require multiple boxes to reach the desired shade during dying. You can try mixing your own shades using different color dyes if you cannot find a commercially available shade you like.

Warnings

  • Do not use your washer again until you have run it empty. There may be dye residue inside the tub that can stain your other clothes if you do not run a full cycle through it before washing your next load.

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.