Introduction: Easy Ice Dyeing on Cotton Fabric

Move over Tie Dye, ICE DYEING is the new cool way to make some patterned, multi colored fabric!

A Tutorial

Step 1: Supplies:

  • Flour Sack Towels or other cotton fabric
  • Fiber Reactive Dyes
  • Soda Ash
  • Ice or Snow
  • Old Bucket
  • Water
  • Old Wooden Spoon
  • Plastic Tub
  • Rack (anything to raise the fabric and allow dye to drain)
  • Cardboard box (optional)
  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Plastic Table Cover


Anytime you handle the dry dye powder, you need to use your dust mask. Trust me, you do not want to breathe these chemicals!

Step 3: Prep the Fabric for Dyeing

Following the directions on the soda ash package ....

Fill your bucket with water, add the soda ash and your fabric.

Step 4: Set Up the Dye Station

While the fabric is soaking, go ahead and set up your dye station. First you need to cover your entire work surface with the tablecloth.

Now, you want to place the rack inside your plastic tub. This will keep the fabric up above the pooled dye.

Cut the bottom out of your shoebox, if using, and place it on top of the rack. I added a divider to separate my two towels.

Step 5: Fold the Fabric

Take the towels out of the soda ash water and wring out any excess liquid.

Now you need to decide how you want to fold your fabric. You can really do any tie dye or shibori folds but for this tutorial, I decided to scrunch my fabric which gives it a lovely, marbled effect.

Once you have folded your fabric, go ahead and place it inside the box. You want the sides of the box to touch the fabric (to hold it and the ice in place) so make sure your box is not too big.

Then you will place a bunch of ice on top of your fabric. Make sure and cover all of it.

Step 6: Add the Dye to the Fabric

Now you are ready to start applying the dyes but remember to place the mask over your nose and mouth. (Also, put on your gloves to keep the dye from staining your hands.)

When you are ready, go ahead and open all your dye containers and place a plastic spoon in each. If you only have one spoon, you will need to wipe it off between colors to prevent dye contamination.

Pick up a small amount of dye powder with your spoon and sprinkle it onto the ice. A little goes a long way so you really don’t need a lot. You can always add more later if it looks like you will end up with too many white areas.

Add other colors until your ice is mostly covered with dye. Remember that the dyes will move as the ice melts. Also keep in mind that the colors will blend to create new colors.

Step 7: Wait ....

Now, we wait. How long it takes for the ice to melt obviously depends on the temperature of your room. The longer it takes, the more time the dye has to move, blend and adhere to the fabric.

Step 8: Rinse Rinse Rinse!

Once the ice has completely melted, you are ready to rinse your cotton fabric. This will remove any dye particles that did not adhere to the fabric.

So, put your gloves back on and rinse your fabric with cool water until the water runs clear. This may take a while so be patient. Then you want to rinse in warm water.

Finally, wash your newly dyed towel separately in the washing machine. After all of this washing, any excess dye should have been removed and your fabric should no longer bleed.

Step 9: Finish

Finally, simply hang your fabric to dry. You can also iron it, if you’d like. I use my ice dyed flour sack towels in the kitchen or I give them away as gifts to my friends.


Check out the full step by step tutorial

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