How to dye clothes with natural foods

The idea for this concept of dyeing clothes with natural foods came after accidentally staining clothes with food. The usual culprits are tomato from a spaghetti Bolognese, curry, or a splatter of coffee. When you get a stain on your top or the perfect white piece of clothing becomes discoloured it can be tempting to throw it away.

This is a huge shame though because it encourages fast fashion and results in excessive waste. To fix the ongoing problem we started experimenting with natural foods and drinks that usually stain to see if we could use them to our advantage and the results have been very interesting.

Firstly we set out to find the foods that have the highest staining capabilities and have since found many foods that work really well. Below we will show you a series of videos which highlight the experiments that we have conducted showcasing the results but if you want to find out how to do it for yourself then keep reading.  

How to dye clothes with natural foods (video)

What natural foods work best to dye clothing?

  • Turmeric for golden yellow
  • Coffee
  • Black beans for blue
  • Spirulina or spinach for green 
  • Red cabbage for purple
  • Beetroot for pink
  • Avocado skins and pit for baby pink
  • Red wine
  • Onion skins for yellow / orange


  1. Immerse the item of clothing in hot salty water, then allow to soak and soak for one hour. Meanwhile, place your natural food dye in a saucepan with water then cook for one hour.
  2. Remove the item of clothing and squeeze out the salty water then place it in the pan with the dye and simmer for another hour.
  3. Turn the heat off and soak for 12 hours (ideally overnight).
  4. In the morning squeeze out the excess dye and rinse the item of clothing with warm water.
  5. Finally, wash it on its own in the washing machine to avoid it staining anything else 

I hope you liked this blog post and if you tried it make sure to tag us on instagram @carved_culture_ or leave us a comment below with foods that you have tried dyeing with.

How to naturally dye clothes: Frequently asked questions

How to prevent the dye coming out in the wash?

important tip is the way that you wash the fabric after the dyeing process, you should know that washing on a cold cycle will likely remove the dye from the fabric whereas washing on a hot cycle will allow the dye to stain. 

What makes natural foods dye clothes?

Foods can easily stain fabrics from a combination of things like the acid, tannins and grease. 

What are the leading natural fabric dye suppliers?

There is a brand called Blotz that specialise in natural dyes, mordants and dyeing equipment. Other brands include the scratch doctor, Wingham Woolwork, dyeing crafts, Dtcrafts, Wildcolours, Georgewell, and there are many more natural dye products are available on Etsy.

How to achieve the best results?

In order to get the best results from your natural dye, you will need to prepare the clothing by removing any commercial finishes. This can be achieved by dyeing the fabric in small batches of half a kilogram and by using a mordant that is best for the specific material. A alum mordant solution is made from refined bauxite (raw aluminium ore.)

Can natural dyes cause skin irritation?

It is more common to have skin irritation from a synthetic dye than it is to get skin irritation from natural foods unless you have an allergy to the food. If you have an allergy to a specific food, you should avoid using it or clothing that has been dyed with it as trace amounts may remain on the fabric even after washing. 

Up next: How to Make a Scented Bag


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