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Best tie-dye kits 2023: Fun home-dyeing for kids and adults

Create some cool colour effects on clothes with these DIY tie-dye sets

Tie-dyeing is a fantastic way to create fun, eye-catching patterns on fabric. Whether you’re dyeing bed sheets, wall hangings or T-shirts, this distinctive style of resist-dyeing has been popular across the world for thousands of years.

Although tie-dyeing is thought to have originated in China and Japan, it was adopted by free spirits in the 1960s and 1970s and quickly became synonymous with the hippy peace movement of the time. Today, it’s remained popular with kids and teenagers as a way to be creative with their clothes.

The process of tie-dyeing is relatively simple. It’s done by gathering fabric into folds and then holding it in place with elastic bands or string. The fabric is then dipped or submerged in dye, or the dye can be squirted on. Depending on how you’ve gathered and tied the fabric, the colours will be absorbed in some places and not others. Once the dyeing process is done, the fabric can be untied to reveal eye-popping patterns.

Best tie-dye kits: At a glance

How to choose the best tie-dye kit for you

What do I need to do tie-dyeing?

Tie-dye kits cover pretty much everything you need for tie-dyeing. You’re going to need a piece of fabric to dye – white T-shirts work really well – and some disposable gloves so you don’t get dyed, as well as rubber bands or string, dye and squeezy bottles. If you’re going to do it indoors, it’s always best to have protective coverings for your furniture and floor, especially if you’re doing it with young kids.

What is the right age to do tie-dyeing?

It depends on your child whether they’re ready to get tie-dyeing. Most kits we came across were intended for six-year-olds and up, and that feels about right. Of course, if you feel your child is ready before that, that’s up to you. Just beware that some of the products in tie-dye kits can potentially be harmful, particularly if ingested, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your kids while they’re using them.

What do I need to consider when choosing a tie-dye kit?

If you’re working with kids, look for a set that will get them excited. Check what colours are included in the pack, and that these are going to align with their taste preferences – kids will always let you know what they do and don’t like, after all. Also, think about how much material you’re planning to dye: if you’re only decorating one T-shirt, you’re not going to need loads of dye, but if you’ve got several items, or several kids wanting to have a go, look for a pack with enough dye in it to get the job done.

Most dyes need to be used within 24 hours once they’re mixed (this usually involves adding warm water to a powder in a squeezy bottle), so make sure you’ve got enough white fabric items at the ready before you start, as it’s not something you can just pack away and come back to later.

How we test tie-dye kits

Expert Reviews understands the value of an impartial and complete review, which is the reason we personally test all the products in our roundups. For the best tie-dye kits, we start by considering what’s included in the set – whether you have everything you need, or if you need to buy some extras. We pay particular attention to how easy a product is to use with children, where appropriate. Tie-dye kits that were relatively mess-free were appreciated, as were those that offer plenty of colour choice in the kit. We also note whether whole kits, or elements, can be used multiple times, or if a kit offers one use only.

If a tie-dye kit is targeted at children, then testing is mainly done by that age group, while considering the level of adult supervision required. (If dealing with permanent dye, we suggest a parent is on hand, even with more able children.) Finally, we take note of the vibrancy of the dyes and quality of all the elements that make up the kit.

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The best tie-dye kits you can buy in 2023

1. Hobbycraft Tie-Dye Bumper Box Kit: Best large tie-dye kit

Price: £30 | Buy now from HobbycraftHobbycraft isn’t kidding when it says this is a bumper box. We were also pleased to see that everything comes contained in a handy resealable plastic box, which we reused for other craft supplies afterwards. Inside the box is a disposable apron, two sets of disposable gloves and two disposable table cloths, as well as 100 elastic bands and 15 dye bottles. The instructions are clear, but definitely require an adult to read them and help along.

There’s so much dye in this kit we were able to have a mini tie-dyeing party with our little testers. As you have to leave the dye to set for 6-8 hours, it makes a good pre-sleepover activity, if you can bear the extra chaos. With so many colours to choose from, our testers were able to really let loose with their creative flair.

Key details – Dye colours: Grass green, light green, orange, gold, dark blue, dark purple, dark red, red, yellow, pink, royal blue, dark green, black, purple, grey; Recommended age: 8+

Buy now from Hobbycraft

2. Rit Tie-Dye Accessory Kit: Best for adults

Price: £14 | Buy now from Rit DyeIf you fancy having a go at tie-dyeing without those pesky kids getting in the way – or maybe with an older teen – then Rit is a great option. This accessory kit comes with a detailed but easy-to-understand instruction manual that takes you through loads of different tie-dye styles and has tips for how to get the best effects, such as adding salt or vinegar to the dye to help it fix. It includes two pairs of good-quality disposable gloves, three premium squeezy dye bottles and a bunch of sturdy, thick elastic bands. There’s even a microwave-safe plastic tray to allow you to microwave the fabric to help the dye set. Smart.

The only thing not included is the dye, but Rit Dye sells individual colours separately and offers a huge range. We went for aquamarine, but you could buy as many as you like (bearing in mind you have three squeezy bottles). As you can buy liquid dye that comes premixed there’s not too much faff, and we got brilliant colours that lasted well.

Key details – Dye colours: Sold separately; Recommended age: Not specified

Buy now from Rit Dye

3. SES Creative tie-dye textile paint: Best for younger kids

Price: £15 | Buy now from HobbycraftThis kit is a little basic, but great to get younger kids involved – ours liked to pretend they were making potions. The kit comprises six coloured pots of dye and some illustrated instructions. It took us a while to get our head around the instructions, but it was actually pretty simple. We mixed the right ratio of dye with warm water in a pot (not included in the kit) and tied up our garment (you also need to supply your own elastic bands and the garment), then poured the dyes onto the fabric. As this is potentially a little bit more chaotic – and less fun – than squeezy bottles, we strongly recommend you find a large plastic box to do it in, especially if you’re doing it with young children.

This kit is a great introduction to tie-dye for kids, but it does rely heavily on adult help. We liked that the dye was resealable so we didn’t have to use it all in one go, and there’s plenty of it, too!

Key details – Dye colours: Purple, aqua, yellow, green, orange, red; Recommended age: 5-12 years

Buy now from Hobbycraft

4. Tybo Tidy Tie-Dye Design Studio: Best mess-free kit

Price: £20 | Buy now from John LewisBoth adults and kids enjoyed this kit very much. Kids liked the whole process, and adults liked that it’s all kept in controlled conditions, with nothing spilt on carpets or clothes. The kit comes with six squirty dye bottles, which can all be put in the stand (hurrah – no knocking over!) that the “magic mixing orb” also sits in. You put your garment in the orb, all trussed up, squeeze in the dye via the self-sealing valves, and use a handle to mix – sort of like a child-powered washing machine – then rinse cold water through.

The orb isn’t huge, so you’re not going to be able to cram anything much bigger than a tee or a tote in there, but we liked that there are two sachets of each of the colours included, as well as gloves and elastic bands. The instructions are very kid-friendly, too.

Key details – Dye colours: Purple, green, orange, red, yellow, blue; Recommended age: 6+

Buy now from John Lewis

5. So Slime Tie-Dye slime kit: Best non-fabric tie-dye kit

Price: £10 | Buy now from HobbycraftOK, so this is not going to be for every parent – particularly parents who don’t enjoy mess, or have slime-related PTSD – but kids are going to love it. You get to make your own scented tie-dye slime. With glitter! Those are some serious tick boxes for kids. It comes with three transparent slimes, so you can make three different slimes. The scented colours are quite heady, we will admit. There’s strawberry, vanilla and pineapple – a sugary fix for sure – and there’s also pink and silver glitter.

It’s actually really easy and relatively mess-free to use: the dyes come in tiny squeezy bottles, which you squeeze into the slime that’s housed in a petri dish-style container. Then you can add the glitter, which unfortunately comes in sachets, not resealable tubes. Our kids were absolutely thrilled with the whole prospect, which makes up for having three new slimes in the house, we suppose.

Key details – Dye colours: Pink, blue, yellow; Recommended age: 6+