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How to Tie Dye Socks: A Step-by-Step Guide

Looking to add a pop of color to your wardrobe? Why not learn how to tie-dye socks! This fun and easy DIY project can be completed in just a few simple steps.

In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to tie-dye socks like a pro. So grab your supplies, and let’s get started!

two pairs of tie dye socks in pink and blue on a gray background

Easy Tie Dye Socks

Tie-dying is a great way to show off your unique style. It’s also a really fun activity to do with friends and family.

You may have made tie-dye t-shirts before. But have you tried tie-dying socks yet?

Learn how to tie-dye socks in this easy, step-by-step guide! With just a few simple supplies, you can create beautiful tie-dyed socks that will add a little bit of personality to your sock drawer.

Let’s get started!

How to Tie Dye

Tie-dying socks is a pretty simple process, but there are a few tricks you need to know to get the best results. Here is an overview of the tie-dye process.

  1. Prep your supplies and work area.
  2. Mix your dyes. Pre-soak your socks, if necessary.
  3. Fold and tie your socks. (more on that below)
  4. Apply the dye.
  5. Let the tie-dye sit. (The hardest part is waiting!)
  6. Rinse, wash, and wear your new socks!

Tie-Dye Supplies

Before you can tie-dye your socks, you need to grab a few simple supplies.

Here’s what you’ll need for this project.

  • fiber-reactive dye in assorted colors
  • cotton socks. Look for at least 70% cotton for the best results.
  • soda ash (you may or may not need this, depending on the type of dye you purchase)
  • Synthrapol, or another laundry detergent
  • rubber bands or strong string
  • squeeze bottles, to apply dye
  • plastic tablecloths or large trash bags to protect your work surface 
  • wire rack to elevate the garment off the work surface, optional
  • gloves and a dust mask
  • zip-top bags or plastic wrap

Check out our list of recommended tie-dye kits, which have everything you need to get started.

Best Type of Tie Dye

The best type of dye for tie-dye socks is fiber reactive dye. 

Fiber reactive dyes are a type of dye that reacts with fabric in cold water to create a permanent bond – perfect for the classic squirt bottle tie-dye technique.

This type of dye is much brighter, longer-lasting, and easier to use than other all-purpose dyes. And, you don’t have to worry about your tie-dye design washing out the first time you put it in the laundry.

The two types of tie-dye I recommend are Procion MX dyes and Tulip One-Step dye kits. (The Tulip brand kits are especially easy because they’re formulated with soda ash already in the dye powder – which eliminates the need to pre-soak fabrics in soda ash.)

Best Kind of Socks for Tie Dye

When you’re shopping for socks, look for socks made with a high percentage of cotton.

Why? Procion MX dye powders and the Tulip one-step kits are formulated to work with natural fibers, like cotton and bamboo. These types of dyes will not work well with synthetic materials like polyester and nylon.

What kind of socks can you tie dye?

You can tie-dye any socks you like, as long as they have a high percentage of cotton or other plant fibers – at least 70% cotton for the best results.

You probably won’t be able to find 100% cotton socks, and that’s okay. You can successfully dye 80/20 cotton/polyester blend or 70/30 cotton/polyester blend socks.

50/50 cotton/polyester blends will not absorb the dye well, and the colors will come out very pale.

3 pairs of rainbow tie dye socks on a gray background

How to Tie Dye Socks

Before we get into the project instructions, let’s go over a few safety tips.

  • Work outside or on a protected work surface.
  • Be sure to wear old clothes or an apron you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Wear gloves so the dye won’t stain your hands.
  • Wear a dust mask when mixing soda ash or dye powders.

Alright, let’s learn how to tie-dye socks.

Step 1: Prep the socks and your workspace.

Before you tie-dye, prewash your socks with Synthrapol or another laundry detergent. Prewashing the socks is important to remove any oil, dirt, and chemicals left over from the manufacturing process.

Next, set up your work area. Cover your work surface with a plastic tablecloth or large trash bag. Set up a wire rack to elevate the socks off the work surface, if desired.

Then, grab your rubber bands, squeeze bottles, and gloves.

Step 2: Mix your dyes and Soda Ash pre-soak.

Mix the dyes according to package instructions.

For Tulip One-Step dyes: Add water according to the package instructions, and shake to mix. You don’t need a soda-ash pre-soak with the Tulip One-Step dyes.

For Procion MX dyes: Put on your dust mask and gloves. Mix the dyes according to the package instructions. In general, you’ll mix 3 teaspoons of dye with 1 cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Then, use a funnel to transfer the dye to squeeze bottles.

Then, mix a soda ash pre-soak. Add 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Soak your socks in the soda ash pre-soak for 15-20 minutes. This step is important because it helps the dye bond with the fabric.

When time’s up, wring out the excess soda ash solution.

For more information about soda ash, read this guide about how to use soda ash for tie-dye.

3 pairs of white socks tied up in red and yellow rubber bands before tie dying

Step 3. Fold and tie your socks.

The next step is to fold up the socks and tie them with string or rubber bands. (If your socks have soda ash solution on them, you may want to wear gloves while you fold them.)

There are many ways to tie up your socks. You can do a simple spiral, accordion fold, or even scrunch them up randomly. This is your chance to be creative! Here is a list of tie-dye folding techniques, if you need a little inspiration.

Step 4: Apply the dye.

After you’ve tied up your socks, it’s time to apply the dye.

Use the squeeze bottles to apply the dye. You can apply the dye in any pattern you like. You can experiment with different techniques, too, like dabbing or spraying.

Tip: Wear gloves while you apply tie-dye so it doesn’t stain your hands. If it does get on your hands, read this article for tips about how to get tie-dye off your skin.

3 pair of socks with tie dye on a metal cooling rack

Step 5. Let the dye set.

Once you have finished applying the dye, let the socks sit while the dye reacts with the fabric.

Place the socks in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out, and leave them in a warm place for at least 8 hours. For the brightest colors, let the dye set up for at least 24 hours.

For more information about this step, read this article about how to set tie dye so it won’t fade.

Step 6. Rinse, wash, and wear your new socks.

After the dye has set, it’s time to rinse and wash your socks.

Remove them from the plastic bag and rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear.

Then, wash them in hot water with a mild detergent like Synthrapol for best results.

Tumble dry on low heat or air dry.

Tip: For the first few wash cycles, wash tie-dyed items by themselves. After that, you can wash them with the rest of your laundry.

For more information, read this guide to washing tie-dye for the first time.

Tie-Dye Socks Folding Techniques

One of the challenges of dying socks is that you don’t have a lot of surface area to work with. Still, there are a variety of tie-dye designs and folding methods that you can try. Here are a few.

Striped Tie Dye Socks

To create a pair of matching tie-dye striped socks:

  1. Lay two socks together, and fold them in half lengthwise.
  2. Place a rubber band every inch or two.
  3. Apply different dye colors in each section.

Swirl Dye Socks

Since socks don’t have a lot of surface area, it’s hard to get a true spiral design. Even so, I really like results of this folding technique. To make swirl tie-dye socks:

  1. Lay two socks together. Pinch a small section in the heel area, and twist your fingers to start rolling up the socks. Keep twisting until the socks are folded up into a tight bundle.
  2. Secure the socks with rubber bands. Cross the rubber bands at the center to form triangle-shaped wedges. Add different colors of dye to the “wedges” that are formed by the crisscrossing rubber bands.

Crumple Dye Socks

Here’s the easiest way to dye socks. You can dye them as a pair, or as singles. To make crumple-dye socks:

  1. First, lay the damp socks out flat on your work surface. Then, scrunch small sections of the fabric together randomly.
  2. Keep scrunching and folding, gathering the socks into a relatively flat, tight disk.
  3. Wrap several rubber bands around the socks. Apply the dye as desired.

Ice Dye Socks

The ice-dye technique can look really great on socks, too. Click here

Tip: If you want matching socks, tie them up together and dye them at the same time.

two pairs of ice dye method tie dye socks in pink, green, and blue on a gray background

FAQs about Tie Dye Socks

Here are some commonly asked questions about tie-dying socks.

Do you tie-dye wet or dry socks?

In most cases, I recommend tie-dyeing socks that are slightly damp but not dripping wet. Applying dye to dry fabric will result in less uniform saturation and more white spots.

How long should tie-dye set before rinsing?

After dying, wrap your socks in plastic (or place them in a zip-top bag) and let the dye sit for at least 8 hours. If you have more time, you can let the dye sit overnight or up to 24 hours.

How do you wash tie-dye socks for the first time?

Before washing your tie-dyed socks in the washing machine, rinse them under running water until the water runs clear. Then, wash the socks in a hot-water cycle with Synthrapol or another color-safe detergent.

I recommend washing new tie-dye socks separately for a few washes before washing them with the rest of your laundry.

More Tie Dye Tutorials

If you like to tie-dye, you may be interested in these related articles:

What’s Next?

Pin this post: Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards so that you can come back to it later.

Leave a comment: I love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker. I love to see what you make!

Have questions? Join the Facebook Group!

I hope this article was useful for you! If you have any additional questions, feel free to join my Facebook Group. I created this group for you to share pictures, ask questions, and help each other out.

How to Tie Dye Socks

How to Tie Dye Socks

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 5

Learn how to tie-dye socks in this easy, step-by-step guide! With just a few simple supplies, you can create beautiful tie-dyed socks that will add a little bit of personality to your sock drawer.

Materials

Tools

  • squeeze bottles, to apply dye
  • plastic tablecloths or large trash bags to protect your work surface
  • wire rack to elevate the garment off the work surface, optional
  • gloves and a dust mask
  • zip-top bags or plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. Prewash your socks with Synthrapol or another laundry detergent. Cover your work surface with a plastic tablecloth or large trash bag. Set up a wire rack to elevate the socks off the work surface, if desired.
  2. Mix the dyes according to package instructions. Then, if necessary, mix a soda ash pre-soak. Add 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Soak your socks in the soda ash pre-soak for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Fold up the socks and tie them with string or rubber bands.
  4. Use the squeeze bottles to apply the dye.
  5. Place the socks in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out, and leave them in a warm place for at least 8 hours. For the brightest colors, let the dye set up for at least 24 hours.
  6. Remove the socks from the plastic bag and rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear. Then, wash them in hot water with a mild detergent like Synthrapol for best results.

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pin image for how to tie dye socks with 3 pairs of rainbow socks on a gray background

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