18 Of The Best Tie Dye Alternatives On The Market!

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Tie dye seems to be making a come back and we have noticed more and more people reaching out and ask a range of questions about how they are able to best tie dye their clothes themselves. Although we see a huge range of tie dye related questions covering a bunch of sub-topics, we have noticed more and more people asking specifically for tie dye alternatives.

Thankfully, there are an absolute ton of common household items as well as other common arts and crafts supplies that many of our readers will probably already own that can be used as a tie dye alternative. Many of these are cheap to purchase if you don’t already have them to hand but if you do need to order a product in, simply going with a high-quality tie dye kit to get the job done.

That said though, we have made a huge list of alternatives that you are able to use with your cloths to get excellent results to quickly and easily tie dye your clothes. Although not all of these methods are permanent, we will go into more detail for the advantages and disadvantage of each throughout the article.

The Best Tie Dye Alternatives

One last thing that we want to say before getting into the article is that some of these methods work much better than others and within each method, there are sometimes different quality ranges of the products that you are able to use for your tie dying too that can change the result. That said though, the basic concept is the same when using either of these alternatives as it would be for regular tie dyeing with no real differences.

Does Food Coloring Work For Tie Dye?

One of the most common methods is tie dye with food coloring due to it being cheap and often already in your home while also working extremely well provided that you use a decent food coloring for your tie dying. Another reason that so many people use food coloring as an alternative to actual tie dye is that it can be both permanent and non-perminant on your clothing too depending on the food coloring that you use.

Our favorite feature of food coloring is that the color range that you are able to get is huge and you can find pretty much any color or shade that you may ever need. This is a huge advantage for using food coloring as your tie dye alternative as a large number of the alternatives on this list have a limited or singular color option.

How Do You Tie Dye Clothes With Acrylic Paint?

A close second when it comes to popularity levels is tie dying with acrylic paint due to it being so cost effective while also having a huge range of colors available. Another advantage is that a huge number of our readers will also have some decent acrylic paint amongst their arts and crafts collection already meaning that they can get excellent tie dye results without having to buy anything new.

Although you are able to tie dye with acrylic paint, you do tend to get better results from it if you use a medium. That said though, the majority of people who do tie dye a t-shirt are usually doing it for a novelty, one off event so we would imagine that most of our readers will be fine just using regular acrylic paint without having to use a medium during the dying process.

Can You Use Sharpies To Tie Dye?

Due to the dominance of the Sharpie marker pen range in North America and Europe, this is tie dying with Sharpies is a very popular alternative that offers excellent performance. Thankfully, with the Sharpie colored marker range being more and more popular too, you can find a solid range of colors for your tie dying to give you exactly what you need.

As there are permanent and non-permanent markers in the Sharpie range, you can also choose the type of ink that you need for the situation. Although most households will already have Sharpie markets, the vast majority of stores will sell them these days so they tend to be quick and easy to get delivered to your home.

Can You Use Alcohol Ink To Tie Dye?

Although it is not for everyone, you can tie dye with alcohol ink and it can delivered an excellent effect but the majority of people tend to want a more pastel color pallet for their tie dying. Due to the nature of alcohol inks, their tie dye patterns tend to be darker and more intents that what many people want but it can give you a unique look and help you stand out at a tie dye party.

There are an absolute ton of alcohol ink formulas on the market these days that all tend to work well but even the cheaper, entry level options deliver great results and are quick and easy to use. Due to a large number of our readers already being involved in arts and crafts, there is a large chance that you will already have some alcohol ink in your collection anyway so you can use it to tie dye without having to purchase any new supplies.

Can You Tie Dye With Dylon?

Although you can tie dye with Dylon fabric ink and get some excellent results for yourself, it is usually cheaper to just purchase a high-quality tie dye kit and have a much wider range of colors available to you. That said though, if you do have some Dylon fabric ink in your home already then you can use it and it does tend to work very well.

The color range of Dylon fabric ink can be a little limited when compared to some of the other options on our list but the majority of people just want the base colors for their tie dye anyway. Although Dylon does tend to be the dominant brand these days, some of their cheaper alternatives do usually have other colors that the Dylon range does not if you do want to branch out though.

Can Egg Dye Be Used For Tie Dye?

Although this one is rare for our readers in Europe, our readers in North America usually do have some left over egg dye in their home from their easter egg hunts. You can tie dye with egg dye but there are a number of different formulas on the market with some tending to perform better than others.

On top of this, the colors of egg dye tend to be outside of the standard tie dye color schemes too so depending on what you want out of your tie dye, egg dye may not be the correct option for you. If you do have some egg dye left over in your home then you can go ahead and use it but we would not recommend that you specifically buy it as the other options on our list tend to be a better tie dye alternative.

Can You Use Kool-Aid To Tie Dye Shirts?

A number of people do tend to tie dye with kool aid due to it being so cheap, readily available, and offer a wide range of colors but it can be hit and miss. Tie dying using kool aid as your dye alternative tends to be better when used on a cheap white t-shirt that made from cotton but its performance does tend to drop off for other clothing materials.

With so many people already having kool aid in their home it is a very popular option and as we mentioned above, the majority of our readers who are looking to tie dye their cloths are usually only doing it for a single, one off event. If this is the case for your then kool aid can be a great option but there are definitely better options available.

Can You Tie Dye With Mica Powder?

Mica powder is a very popular option for a wide range of arts and crafts out there with many of our readers potentially already having it in their arts and crafts collection due to its versatility. If you don’t already have some mica powder in your collection then it is cheap enough to pick-up without breaking the budget.

Mica powder is available in a huge range of colors and performs very well as a tie dye alternative allowing you to get pretty much any color combination that you could ever want or need. The process is just as easy as a regular tie dye product too allowing you to quickly add the color to your t-shirt or other clothing without having to waste time.

Can You Use Jell-O To Tie Dye?

An increasingly popular alternative to the actual dyes on the market is to tie dye with Jell-O due to it being so cheap and coming in all of the colors that you could ever want when tie dying making it an excellent alternative. The colors usually show up well on white and other pale cloths without having a scent left as some of the other options on our list can have making it a decent option. With Jell-O being so popular all over the world, a huge number of our readers will probably already have some available too.

How Do You Tie Dye Red Cabbage?

Although this is less popular than it used to be, you can tie dye with red cabbage if needed but it tends to be more effort than it is worth. You can easily dye your clothes with red cabbage if needed but as you can probably guess, the color options are restricted to shades of red too. This tends to be too restrictive for most people and is often better as a mixture with other tie dye alternatives in our list.

How Do You Tie Dye Fabric With Red Onion Skin?

You can defiantly tie dye with red onion skin but it tends to be a less popular option as it takes just as much effort as red cabbage covered above while also having a stronger smell left over on your clothes after the process. Due to this, the majority of people who do want to use a natural dye for their tie dye cloths will simply use red cabbage instead of red onion skin. Another disadvantage of red onion skin is that it is usually a lighter shade of red than red cabbage too further restricting what you are actually able to do with it.

How Do You Dye Fabric With Red Wine?

We often see people reaching out to ask if you can tie dye with red wine and although the answer is yes and it works very well, the price of red wine tends to be more expensive than just picking up a high-quality tie dye kit. Due to red wine being expensive and also restricting your color options we tend to just recommend that our readers avoid using it and just use another tie dye alternative from our list as your results will be better while also being cheaper.

Tie Dye With Turmeric

Using turmeric to tie dye with is a popular option and it has been used for hundreds of years to dye cloths with great effect. That said though, it does tend to have a strong scent to it that does remain after the initial tie dying process while also restricting your color range drastically to shades of orange with some being very light and hard to see. This can be a great natural dye to use when you ie due but it is usually best used with other natural tie dye alternatives covered in our list.

How Do You Dye Fabric With Tea Or Coffee?

Both tea and coffee have been a popular option for dying cloths for a long time too and the vast majority of our readers will have tea or coffee available in their home too making it a quick and easy natural tie dye option. Although there does tend to be a scent associated with either option, it is usually less overwhelming that the other natural options on our list but using tea or coffee does also restrict your color ranges.

Can You Dye With Avocado Skins?

Some people do choose to tie dye with avocado skins but the effect is usually very pale and hard to see and usually a light shade of yellow rather than a strong shade of green. Depending on the amount of time and effort that you have available, you may be able to get away with using avocado skins as an alternative to your tie dyes. Again though, the color selection is limited but can go well if you use it with other natural options on our list.

Can You Tie Dye With Beet Juice?

Some people do choose to tie dye with beet juice and it gives some excellent dark shades of red and purple but it can leave a lingering smell on your cloths making it a less desirable option unless you specifically want a natural, eco-friendly tie dye alternative. Just like most of the other natural options on our list, using beet juice for your tie dye work will usually be better if you use it with a number of other natural alternatives so you get a whole color range.

How Do You Dye Fabric With Blueberries?

In our opinion, blueberries are an often over looked and over rated natural alternative to tie dye products that offer some excellent shades of blue and purple. The tend to be cheap depending on the season with many people already having blueberries in their homes already. On top of this, frozen blueberries tend to perform better when tie dying and they are usually cheaper than fresh blueberries helping to save you some money.

The Best Natural Dyes For Tie Dye!

As we have touched on throughout the article, we have covered a number of excellent natural tie dye alternatives but they all have one single problem in common. They offer an extremely restricted color range and this is where using a number of those alternatives togeather help to deliver excellent results. Simply go through the tie dye process adding one of these natural alternatives at a time to get the tie dye effect.

Although we covered them above, here is a quick recap of the decent natural tie die alternatives that you can try out:-

  • Avocado
  • Beet Juice
  • Blueberries
  • Coffee
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red Onion Skin
  • Turmeric
  • Tea


That brings our article going over what we consider to be good options to use as a tie dye alternative to a close. We have pointed out the positives and negatives of each alternative option throughout our article to try and ensure that you are as informed as possible for their choices. Many of these alternatives will already be in many of our readers home allowing you to use them without having to spend anymore money too.