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How to Dye Fabric with Food

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turmeric makes a great natural fabric dye

How to Make Food-Based Fabric Dye

Dyeing fabric with food ingredients is easy and fun. The best part? Chances are you have everything you need in your kitchen right now! To make your own dye, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup salt + 8 cups water
  • Large stock pot
  • Undyed organic fabric. I really like the undyed organic hemp at Hemporium. Their prices are good, and the customer service there is great.
  • Enough of your food to cover the fabric in your pot, if you’re using fruits or veggies. If you’re using herbs, start with 1 tablespoon of dried herbs per cup of water

1.  Put your fabric in the stock pot with the salt and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Drain your fabric, then let it cool and wring out any extra liquid. This saltwater step is important. The salt is a ‘fixative’ that helps your fabric take and hold the dye.

2a. If you’re using fruits/veggies: Chop up the fruit or veggies into small pieces. Place your fabric into a pot, cover with the fruit or veggies, and boil for one hour. When the hour is up, let the fabric soak in the dye, checking every 5-10 minutes until the fabric gets a little darker than you want. Rinse the fabric until the water runs clear, then hang it to dry.

2b. If you’re using herbs: Combine the water and herbs in a pot, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and submerge your fabric. Depending on what herbs you’re using, it could take 15 minutes to get the color you want, or it could need to soak for a few hours. Just keep checking until you get the results you want, then rinse and hang your fabric dry.

Not sure what kitchen ingredients to use for your natural fabric dye? Check out some suggestions on the next page!

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

31 comments

+ add your own
8:14AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

I'm new to this, so what happens if you dye cotton? And what fabric can I use besides organics, that would still get bright colours?

1:10PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

noted

9:27PM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

Nice, thank you. The world needs more sustainable products. Now can someone post a petition to help the Pearl River ...

1:07PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

My daughter(of my heart) will love this..I'm emailing it to her now...thanx so much.... Fun!!

1:12AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Well, if you want a pink blouse then spill Merlot on it and wash it, and voila there's your pink blouse

9:27PM PDT on May 28, 2012

Works for eggs too.

7:50AM PDT on May 28, 2012

HORRIBLE HOW COULD SOMEONE DO THAT TO A RIVER???

8:28PM PDT on May 26, 2012

Thanks for the first step, salt water. I had a huge failure with beets because I didn't have the right mordant and the fabric turned an awful washed out brown.

12:56PM PDT on May 26, 2012

ty

10:38PM PDT on May 24, 2012

I have a blue shirt I spilled mustard on. Looks cool!

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