How to Make Natural Tie Dye Using Veggies & Plants

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How to Make Natural Tie Dye Using Veggies & Plants

Is anyone else spring cleaning? Keep your wardrobe green and fresh. Give old styles new life thanks to clean household items. In this blog, we cover how to reinvent tired clothing with colorful natural dyes.

Clean & Go Green 

Upcycling transforms dull styles from drab to fab. Look to your kitchen for inspiration! Purge the pantry and try this DIY activity on your next day off.

Now Trending: Natural Tie Dye 

Tie-dye is cool again but in a more sustainable way. Natural dyes have been around for thousands of years, creating gorgeous hues without harmful side effects. Unlike traditional kits, natural dyes contain no dangerous ingredients or bleaches. Vegetable dyes produce unique shades, free of parabens, synthetics, and toxins. What could be better?

What You’ll Need for Natural Tie Dye 

For a mess-free experience, assemble the following tools to make natural dyes. 

  • Baking Soda
  • Cutting Board
  • Clothing/Fabric Item to Dye
  • Drying Rack
  • Funnel
  • Glass Bottle(s)
  • Gloves 
  • Knife
  • Stainless steel stock pot or crockpot(s)
  • Large bowl or measuring cup
  • Measuring Spoon
  • Laundry Detergent Pods
  • Mild Soap
  • Newspaper
  • Rubber Bands or Yarn
  • Salt
  • Strainer
  • Tongs
  • Water

Create Your Color Palette 

Master the art of natural tie-dye. Look to your kitchen, or even outside! There’s no limit to the beauty you can create. 

Achieve colorful hues with clean ingredients. If you’re thinking ahead, start saving vegetable peels, skins, rinds, and other food waste. Nothing fresh on hand? Grab curry and turmeric, or canned items like black beans. Keep an open mind!

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Foods that are rich in tannins can withstand multiple washings. Try natural dyes made with chocolate, cherries, pomegranates, blueberries, black tea, acorns, and even pine cones.

Other ingredients that create popular natural tie-dye colors include:

  • Brown: Coffee, Fennel 
  • Blue: Black Beans 
  • Green: Artichoke, Grass, Mint, Spinach 
  • Orange: Carrot, Onion 
  • Pink: Pickled Beets
  • Purple: Red Cabbage, Hibiscus 
  • Yellow: Celery, Curry Powder, Turmeric Powder, Sunflowers

How to Natural Tie Dye at Home 

Now time to embrace your inner artist! Natural tie-dye projects can be done inside or out. Put on some tunes and get to work.

Step 1: Prepare Your Fabrics

First things first: start with clean items. Note that natural dyes stick best to cotton, linen, wool, and silk. Mixed results come from synthetics. Use laundry detergent pods and follow with air drying. 

Why not get creative? Think beyond white t-shirts! Test vegetable dyes on tea towels or canvas art. 

Step 2: Fix Natural Dyes 

Now to the fun part…ingredient selection! What can you find around the house? Whether it’s fruits, plants, or veggies, chop up items and compost any food bits. Skip this step for spices like curry and turmeric. Components will boil down, so prepare adequate amounts.

You may be thinking…this sounds messy. Nope! Gather plenty of newspaper and keep soap around for easy cleanup.

Grab one or multiple pots. Stainless steel works best. Mordants work to chemically bind the natural dyes on fabrics, so avoid aluminum and copper.

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For each dye, mix 1 cup of salt, 16 cups of water, and four cups of vinegar (or ½ cup of salt and 8 cups of water). Bring the solution(s) to a boil, then add natural tie-dye ingredients and let simmer for at least one hour and up to one day. Do the same for spices, except mix 1 tablespoon of curry or turmeric for every 1 cup of water. 

Allow ample time to cool. Whenever you’re ready, grab a funnel and strain natural dyes into glass bottles or jars. Voilà!

Step 3: Design Your Natural Tie Dye

A great summer activity, take this DIY outside! Prior to dyeing, rinse items in cool water with mild soap and a tablespoon of baking soda. Be sure not to dry, as dampness makes fabrics easier to twist. With natural dyes ready, gather and bunch portions with rubber bands or small knots of yarn.

Create original designs by pinching, pleating, and folding in all different ways. No bindings will result in single–colors, so leave for the ultimate natural tie-dye look. Originality is key! 

Tied and ready, submerge items in natural dyes for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  Stir for even coloring. Once the dye bath is complete, put on gloves and use tongs for removal. Set bundles aside for 10 minutes. Carefully cut any fabric bindings and rinse under cool water, then lay flat overnight. 

Another approach is to lay items on a flat surface, then spray or squirt bottled vegetable dyes directly. This allows for more personalization and use of colors.

Shades vary based on a number of components, from pH water levels to ingredient ratios. Don’t expect typical tie-dye colors, though adding 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar can brighten results. The process is all about finding complementary mixtures to achieve looks you love.

Step 4: Dry & Wear

Natural tie-dye shades appear slightly darker when wet. Once dry, color life depends on everything from the type of natural dyes to the frequency of wear. Organic vegetable dyes naturally wash out more quickly.

Moving forward, use gentle laundry detergent pods or mild soap to care for natural tie-dye items. Apply low dryer settings with wool dryer balls when in a rush.

Other Uses for Natural Dyes

Seal natural dyes and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Don’t leave anything to waste! Add spring colors to a cake frosting. What about Easter eggs? The opportunities are endless.

If you’re not happy with natural tie-dye results, keep experimenting. The good news is that vegetable dyes can be removed with a warm wash cycle and laundry detergent pods. Stick in the dryer on medium heat. Alternatively, hand wash items with warm water and mild soap,


Now that you know how to process natural dyes, let’s get to work! Put a new spin on style. Warm weather is just around the corner, and we’ve got everything you need on the Public Goods blog for DIY fun. Why not get started with natural tie-dye?

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