How to Tie-Dye Converse

Transform your Converse shoes with a tie-dyed style.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

In 1917, the Converse Rubber Corporation introduced the very first iconic All Star basketball shoe to the American public. Originally made in brown with black leather trim, the shoe became the Chuck Taylor All Star Converse shoe and it is now available in a rainbow of hues, patterns and prints. If you're looking to spice up your plain pair of white or light-colored Converse, tie-dyeing them can transform a solid color into patterned perfection that will give your kicks a one-of-a-kind appeal.

Choose a work space you can get dirty, such as the backyard or a utility room. Cover the floor of your work space with a barrier, such as a plastic sheet or tarp. Place all of your tools in your work space.

Put on your rubber gloves. Pour one cup of soda ash and one gallon of water into a plastic bucket. Mix the soda ash and water together with a stirring stick.

Take the insoles out of your shoes and place your shoes in the soda-ash mixture. Leave the shoes in the mixture for roughly 20 minutes and then take them out of the soda-ash bath and set them down on the plastic sheet or tarp.

Mix small batches of dye with water in separate plastic cups by following the manufacturer's directions. Choose at least two colors, although you may use more if desired.

Paint the dye onto the canvas part of your shoes with a 1-inch-sized brush. Create a tie-dye pattern by making stripes, circles or zigzags, or paint one solid color base and add drips and drops of other colors on top. Rinse the brush between changes in colors. Continue this process until the canvas parts of both shoes have a completely covered look.

Rinse your shoes in cool water to remove any excess dye. Place your tie-dyed shoes on the sheeting or tarp to dry. Pick a warm or sunny area to speed up your drying time.

  • Avoid all-purpose dyes. These require hot water that may cause shrinking or damage to the canvas of your shoes.
  • Always wear gloves while dyeing your shoes for safety and cleanliness.
  • Don't dye the rubber parts of your shoes or the soles, as the dye will not sufficiently stick to these parts and it will run. If you do get dye on the rubber portions, wipe it off immediately with a rag and warm water.
  • Try dyeing a light-colored, but not white, pair of Chucks. Go with a red and purple tie-dye over pink shoes, or green and orange paint over yellow shoes.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.