Homemade Natural Dye with Avocados - Public Goods Blog

Homemade Natural Dye with Avocados

While we’re all sheltering at home in the midst of this pandemic, you may be looking for ways to be creative and occupy your time.

avocado cut in half with pit showing

If you’ve exhausted your sourdough bread attempts and finished all your spring cleaning, here’s an easy and fun way to boost your mood and existing textiles: using a humble pantry staple, the avocado, to create your own natural dye in a soothing green.

If you follow these steps, the process might be easier than you think.

Collect Your Supplies

avocado cut in half with seed visible

You will need between 8-16 avocado seeds, depending on the size of your avocado. Every time you use an avocado, rinse the seed off with water to clean it and add it to your collection.

When you’ve amassed the right amount of avocado seeds, you’re ready to start the dyeing process. Natural fabrics work best with natural dyes, so go with cotton, linen and silk.

avocado seeds in a blue pot with water

Find any items you want to dye. Some good starter items include table linens, bandannas, or old t-shirts.

In the true spirit of the times, I chose to dye some plain cotton canvas face masks that I felt needed some brightening to their basic beige shade. In addition, I added two linen napkins, two washcloths and a market tote.

Create your Dye

avocado seeds in a bowl with strands of fabric

Now that you’re ready to go, find a large pot to boil your avocado seeds and create your dye. Pick a stainless steel pot you won’t mind getting stained. Fill it with water. Once the water gets to a boil, drop in your avocado seeds and lower the heat of the stove until the water simmers.

Let the seeds simmer in the water until you get the water to be a shade of color you like. Depending on the number of seeds, this transformation can take a couple of hours. In the meantime, prep the items you’re planning on dyeing by soaking them in cold water.

Once you’re happy with the shade of the water, turn off the heat, drop in the item you’d like to dye, and leave it in the pot to soak (make sure it’s pre-soaked in the cold water we just mentioned). The heat will ensure that the dye soaks into the fabric. Having the item pre-soaked in cool water will help prep the fabric retain the dye.

You can check the item periodically to see how the color is turning out on your item and leave it in until you’re happy with the shade. You can even leave it in overnight to get the color saturation of the item more intense.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

fabric dyed green

Once you’re happy with the color of the item, remove the item from the dyed water and soak it into a bowl of cold water. Be careful of the hot water, and take care when you remove it. The dye will seep out of the item you’re dyeing, so you want to put it in a bowl you won’t mind staining. Keep rinsing the item with cool water until the water runs clear.

You then want to launder the item. An easy way to wash smaller items is by hand using a mild detergent or soap. Once you hand wash the item, wring out all the water and air dry it and enjoy your new, beautifully dyed item!

Extra credit: If you’re interested in mixing it up, tie-dye your item by putting strategic rubber bands around your piece and using a squeeze bottle to soak only parts of the item. Soak overnight or outside in the heat for maximum color saturation and contrast.

Beauty in Imperfection

Using natural dye at home is inherently a trial and error process, with variable results based on the intensity of the dye, the duration an item has been soaked and the type of fabric you use. If you opt to try the tie-dye method mentioned above, the variations in patterns and shades will only add to the unique nature of your item. Enjoy the creative process and the natural imperfections and beauty that comes out experimenting at home and, most importantly, have fun.

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