The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of our earth, and a large amount of these pollutants come from commercial dyes. Dying clothing seems innocent on the surface, but this simple process fills our oceans with toluidine, benzine, and other known carcinogens. To create a healthier planet, switch to organic plant dyes that are easy to find in your grocery store. So if you plan to go to a music festival, opt to do DIY on your outfit and stand out from the crowd!

Fabrics to Use

Not all fabrics can be dyed easily with natural materials. As a rule, most natural clothing made from cotton, wool, silk, and linen will soak up the dye and not wash out. Synthetic blends may take some dye. Polyester seems to be the most generous, but rayon will likely bleed in the wash. However, since these blends are synthetic, they are often made differently.

Use These Natural Dyes for Fabric

We’re using natural dyes that are non-carcinogenic and not harmful to the environment. The best kind of dyes will dissolve in the ocean without killing wildlife, and the safest options are plants, fruit, berries, vegetables, and flowers. 

If you’re in a rush to dye your dress, shirt, or pants, find an online business that offers same-day flower delivery so that you can get started within 24-hours.

Natural Dyes

  • Yellow: yellow dock root, barberry roots, lilac twigs, celery leaves, sunflower petals
  • Green: peach leaves, plantain, nettles, grass, lilacs, snapdragons, peppermint leaves 
  • Reddish Purple: huckleberries, pokeweed berries, daylilies, basil leaves 
  • Greyish Black: iris roots, walnut hulls, blackberries
  • Reddish Brown: bloodroot, hibiscus, bamboo, bettes, pomegranates
  • Blue: dogwood bark, purple grapes, blueberries, red mulberries, elderberries
  • Pink: avocado seeds and skins, pink and red roses, cherries, berries
  • Brown: acorns, coffee, tea, walnut hulls, oak bark, dandelion roots
  • Orange: onion skins, gold lichen, carrots

For the best results, use mature, ripe plants that aren’t dried. Fresher produce will create a deeper dye, while a dried plant will make pastel or muted colors. Chop plants small for more surface area or smash the roots if the material is hard. Feel free to chop up your materials and put them in the freezer, as they will stay fresh for at least 2 months.

How to Prepare Clothing to Receive Dye

Clothing and fabrics won’t soak up dye without a bit of help. You must wash the clothing or dye, but be sure not to dry it all the way. The fabric must be a little bit wet to the touch but not soaking or dripping. Otherwise, the dye will run and ruin the fabric.

After preparing the clothing, start creating the dye:

For all materials, except berries:

  • Use Vinegar: 4 parts room temperature water, 1 part vinegar

For berries

  • Use salt: 8 cups of room temperature water, ½ cup salt

For the best results, place the entire piece of clothing in the mixture. Do this by purchasing a shallow tub. Fill the tub until the whole garment is submerged. Finally, rinse with either room temperature or cold water. Ensure the fabric isn’t soaking wet.

How to Dye Fabric

Cover a surface in your home with paper. If you don’t want to dye anything underneath, place the paper on top of aluminum foil or another shirt you’re okay with losing.

  1. Put natural dye material in a glass or stainless steel pot.
    1. The pot will dye the same color as your shirt. Never use this pot again for cooking food. Only use this pot for dying.
  2. Fill the pot until it covers the natural dye material fully.
  3. Simmer on medium heat for an hour until the dye is dark.
  4. Strain natural dye material with a strainer you’re willing to stain.
  5. Put clothing into the dye and turn the mixture up to a boil.
    1. Simmer on medium heat for an hour. Stir.
  6. Turn the pot off at the hour mark and let it sit.
  7. When the color is as desired, remove and wash the garment in the sink with cold water.
  8. Dry on a regular rack. The dye shouldn’t stain your furniture at this point.

Congratulations! You’ve just dyed your first piece of clothing!