The process of dyeing clothes can sometimes involve harsh and harmful chemicals. You can find brands that offer natural dyes, or you can put your lab coat on and make your own dyes with just a few accessible ingredients. If you want to avoid pouring bad dyes down the drain, try some of these natural pigments to tint your clothes:
Orange Carrot root, turmeric
Brown Coffee grounds, Beet root for a reddish brown
Pink Cherries, bloodroot, strawberries
Blue and Purple Blueberries, blackberries, indigo leaves
Red Beets, pomegranate
It’s important to know going in, that using natural dyes does not always yield consistent results. So don’t expect a uniform batch of dyed items. The surprise is part of the fun!
First, make sure you know what your garment is made of. A pure cotton like SpectraUSA’s Retro Ringspun Cotton t-shirt will hold dye differently than a blended fabric. A 100% cotton fabric will always be easiest to dye, whereas polyester is more difficult.
Methods of Dyeing
- Washing Machine: wet your garment and put it in the machine. Separately dilute your pigment with hot water. In another container dissolve one cup of salt for cotton or linen OR a cup of vinegar for silk or nylon in hot water. Add a teaspoon of dish soap in the same container. Then pour your dye into the washing machine’s detergent dispenser followed by the salt or vinegar solution. Wash for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.
- Stovetop: Fill a large pot with enough water to cover your garment. Heat the water to just below boiling. When the water is simmering, add your natural pigment. Then add the garment. Stir consistently for the first 10 minutes. You can leave the garment in the dye for up to an hour. When the desired color is reached, remove garment and ring out excess fluid.
Make sure to rinse your garment thoroughly after dyeing. It’s best to separate from other fabrics during the first few wash cycles. Hang your garment dry after washing for the best and brightest results.