Have Old Hats Sitting Around? Here’s How to Tie-Dye a Hat Instead of Throwing It Out

Have Old Hats Sitting Around? Here’s How to Tie-Dye a Hat Instead of Throwing It Out

Tie-dye is an ancient process that can seem intimidating. Most people know the basics (rubber bands and RIT dye) but don’t know how to do multiple colors or work with unusual fabrics or clothing items. Here, we discuss how to successfully tie-dye an old, faded hat in a single color or rainbow colors.

What Supplies Do I Need?

  • Rubber bands
  • Dye (for multiple colors, we recommend Tulip Rainbow 5-Color Tie-Dye Kit at $15.99) in squeeze bottles or in powder form
  • Fabric paint (optional)
  • Latex or other gloves
  • Bucket with cold water for rinsing
  • Paper towels
  • Hat (new or old, light color)
  • Sponge brushes (from hardware or arts and crafts stores)

How To Tie-Dye a Baseball Cap Multiple Colors

  1. Submerge your hat in water until completely damp, including the brim. Wring out excess water.
  2. Using sturdy rubber bands, tie  the base of the hat in 3-4 places. (Leave the brim for now). Set your hat aside.
  3. Prepare your Tulip dye by adding water to the fill line of each dye bottle and shake until the powder is completely dissolved. 
  4. Cover a surface (preferably outdoors) with plastic. Slowly apply dye to the rubber banded sections, one color at a time. Be sure to flip the hat and apply the same color on the opposite side. 
  5. Next, put a little dye on the plastic itself (as if it is a palette). Using a damp sponge brush, apply dye to sections of the hat brim to create a rainbow pattern. Clean your brush in between different colors, helping them blend together. Repeat until the hat looks the way you want it to. 
  6. Let your new tie dye hat rest (preferable in sun and a light breeze!) for four hours or more, until dry or nearly dry. Cut rubber bands with scissors.
  7. Rinse the hat until the rinse water is clear and wash (separately). Dry the hat normally by letting it rest in a dry, warm area of your house.
  8. (Optional) You can use the dimensional paints to add a letter, logo, or other design on the brim.

How to Tie-Dye a Single Color

Purchase the color of dye you want in a squirt bottle. As in the process above, you’ll need a bucket, rubber bands and access to water. Band the hat (excluding the brim).

Soak the bill with the dye mixture. Let dry.

Rubber band at least three sections of the hat (these parts will remain white). Apply dye from the squirt bottle and repeat the rinsing process.

Wash once without soap (just as with a rainbow hat) until the dye stops running. Dry for a full day, then re-wash in your washing machine (cold water, no soap), and hand dry.

How Long Will it Take?

This process takes a full 12 hours, including set-up, washing and drying. The actual tie-dye process takes about an hour.


It’s best to use latex or other form-fitting gloves to avoid saturating hands or skin with dye, which can be harmful.

The hat brim will lighten up when washed because the dye here is less saturated. For darker colors, it will require more dye.

Avoid using any dye in the washing machine and make sure the hat has been rinsed before cleaning in the washing machine. RIT and other dyes can permanently stain washing machines.