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How to Ice Dye Fabric

If you haven’t tried this method of tie dye, you have to give it a try. Learn how to ice dye fabric now!

tie dyed sweatshirt

We are continuing to see the the tie dye trend everywhere and are loving it! You know we love to experiment with dyeing fabrics. From natural dyes to our favorite Rit Dyes. We have dyed cloth napkins, tablecloths, bags, placemats and even my outdoor cushion covers

Today we are so excited to share another dyeing obsession of ours, showing you how to ice dye! This method gives a watercolor effect to fabrics. It is stunning. And the perfect summer project…

Since writing this first Ice Dye post we have made hooded sweatshirts, Ice Dye Dish Towels, ice dyed cloth napkins and a summer tote bag. We even ice dyed turkish towels!

Did you happen to see how we used powdered dyes this winter to do snow ice dye?! 

ice dyed sweatshirt

We love this method s much that we make and sell Ice Dye Dish Towels in our shop! They come in a 3-pack, all unique and beautiful! Make sure and check them out. 

What is Ice Dyeing?

This is a method of dyeing using ice, (pre-treated) fabric and fabric dye. You can use natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, and silk. The fabric is washed and kept damp. Fabric can be pre-treated with salt, vinegar or soda ash (depending on fabric and dye that you use).

Then ice is placed onto of bunched fabric and powder dye is applied to ice. The melting ice gives the water color effect as you allow the ice to melt over the fabric completely. 

What kind of dye to use for ice dyeing

We used Rit Dye all purpose powder dye. But you can use fabric powder dye like this as well.

We wanted to get a more ombre effect, so we only used one color dye on each sweatshirt. It is remarkable really how many shades of blue and green we got using the teal dye.

I cannot wait until we can host a backyard craft day with friends and make all kinds of amazing ice dyed garments! 

Where do you find white sweatshirts?

You will want to use 100% cotton sweatshirts or natural fabrics (cotton, linen) for this project. Here are a few that I have found:

Off white womens crew neck (this is what we used for this project)

Mens Hooded White Sweatshirt

Mens Hooded White Sweatshirt

Womens crewneck


How to Ice Dye Fabric


Rit Dye all purpose powder dye

White or off-white sweatshirt

Cooling rack

Bin or tray



How to Ice Dye Fabric

How to Ice Dye Fabric

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Estimated Cost: 35

Learn how to use powder fabric dye and ice to create stunning watercolor effects! This is an amazing way to tie dye any cotton fabric.


  • Fabric Dye (we used Rit Dye all purpose powder)
  • Cotton sweatshirt
  • Ice
  • Gloves


  • tongs
  • Cooling Rack
  • Bin or tray to fit under rack


  1. Prep the cotton fabric. Wash with mild detergant. Keep damp for dyeing.
  2. Cover your work area (we use a white plastic tablecloth).
  3. Prep your supplies. Place cooling rack over the tray or bin to catch the melting ice and dye.
  4. Take your damp sweatshirt and wring out any excess water. Bunch the fabric and place it on top of cooling rack.
  5. Place ice on top of the fabric.
  6. Sprinkle powdered dye on to ice with a spoon. A little bit goes a long way! You do not need a large sum. I used just hte teal dye on the blue sweatshirt and just hte pink dye on the pink sweatshirt.
  7. NOTE: If you use mulitple colors of dye, leave a little room in between where you spinkle hte posdered dye so the colors do not overly blend.
  8. Allow the ice to melt completley. Depending on how warm it is, this could take a few hours.
  9. Now it is time to set the dye. We used Rit Dye Fixative in hot water (about 2 T in 2 gallons of hot water. We let sit in fixative and water bath for 10 mins.
  10. Then wash and dry.


The ice dye method gives almost a watercolor effect to fabric. It is so fascinating to see how a single fabric powder dye can change into multiple colors. You can see ow many colors make up one color of dye. So cool!

Recommended Products

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You can also find more info on ice dyeing here. This process is so satisfying! We continue to fall deeper in love with creating our own designs in fabric through using dyes. 

More Ice Dye Ideas

Creating your own fabric designs and colors is so satisfying. Check out the beach towels we dyed using the ice dye method. We used 100% cotton turkish towels in white. Another idea for ice dyeing is using cloth napkins. These came out so beautifully.

I am so tempted to do a tablecloth next! What colors would you do for a tablecloth? Blues, mustard and maybe the deep pinkish purple would be stunning! 

We hope you will be inspired to make your very own Ice Dyed creations like the sweatshirts we made. Or you can always buy one here.

This method of tie dyeing has honestly become our favorite way to tie dye. It has become a way to teach kids about how colors are made of different colors. For example, when using the blue dye you can get little specs of magenta and lighter blue. And when using green, spots of yellow appear. It is truly fascinating! 

Photos by Sara Albers.

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  1. These look great! If dying multiple shirts can I put them all in the same washing load at once? Thanks!

  2. Do you do front of shirt then back, or all at once?

    1. Hi Kim – you do it all at once. Since hte shirt is damp when you start the process, and the ice melts through – this will dye both sides.

      1. Karen Allred says:

        Sara I’m having a hard time with mine fading down in wash .. I’m using Sarapol liquid detergent for tie dyes and ideas?

    1. Leslie E Phares says:

      Can you please show me how and what a sweatshirt would look like if you used liquid tye dye verses powder? I’ve searched everywhere to fine how you do this project and what it looks like verses powder. Thank you.

      1. We haven’t done ice dye with liquid. The powdered fabric dye works magic with ice because it creates almost a watercolor look – from the ice melting the powder (which contains different colors). I have seen bleach dye (liquid) with ice dye, it almost gives a similar look of hte melting.

  3. Just out of curiosity, would using small pellet ice have a different effect than using larger tray ice?

    1. Karen Allred says:

      Sara I’m having a hard time with mine fading down in wash .. I’m using Sarapol liquid detergent for tie dyes and ideas?

      1. Hi there – the colors will fade a bit when washing. When dyeing, they are super vibrant – but will fade a bit.

  4. Do you rinse the shirt off before setting the dye?

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