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May 27, 2022 4 min read 1 Comment

How To: Naturally Dye Fabric Using Your Food Waste!

Were you ever told to not play with your food…? Well, we give you FULL permission!

We want to rid the world of the nasty chemicals in our waterways due to the harsh dyes used to colour our fabrics. How!? By using natural ingredients that release zero toxins AND reduce a vast amount of the world's food waste! 

We have compiled 7 different food scraps that can take your old textiles to a whole new level, naturally! This willreduce your food waste and is a great way to up-cycle and give a second life to your clothes and fabrics! 

Time to give 'you are what you eat' a whole new meaning!

Naturally dyeing fabrics with food waste

Natural Dye Methods & Preparation:


Your fabric choice can also make a difference to the shades and strengths of these natural dyes! Choosing fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen, and wool will hold the plant-based colours better than synthetic fabrics as they can absorb the water and dyes better!

A quick tip: To prepare your fabric, it is best to soak it in a warm vinegar-water solution for at least one hour. This will also help it absorb the colour even if they are still wet! (We recommend 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water, for example, 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups of water depending on your fabric size). 

The Many Methods:

  1. Boiling: boil food scraps on the stove, then strain the liquid to create the dye! ( The ideal ratio for a plant dye bath is one part scraps to two parts water and boil for an hour. A quick tip: For a bolder colour, turn the heat off and let the scraps soak in the dye bath overnight). Once you have drained the liquid and removed the scraps, you will be left with your dye, and your fabric (still wet from the vinegar) can go straight in! Note: You'll know when the scraps are ready to come out as they will be almost colourless! (Don't forget your leftovers can then also be composted! )
  2. Sun dyeing! ( Or Fermentation dyeing ) This method uses the sun instead of the stove to create the dye! This is usually done inside jars, so for smaller fabrics or individual clothing items, this is a great and energy-saving method! For this method, it's best to do 1 part food scraps to 2 parts water! Pop your fabric in, and let the sun do the rest!

Collecting Your Scraps:

  1. While you are waiting to have enough scraps for a particular dye, did you know you can freeze your food scraps until you're ready to use them! This is also an excellent trick if your compost bin is full and needs some time-out!
  2. You could ask your friend to collect their waste for your new "avocado shirt" project! Saving your waste and your friend's waste too from landfill.

1. Avocados

Just when you thought avos couldn't get any better…Avocado seeds and skins can dye your fabrics PINK!l Your seeds will give a darker pink colouring than the skins too! The seed contains a milky liquid that becomes a beautiful reddy pink when boiled! How cool!

2. Beetroot

While this one may be obvious, it's still unbelievable to see! Use Beets for a vibrant reddish-pink natural dye! You can also add a teaspoon of vinegar or salt during the boiling process to help retain the dye! 

3. Spinach

Spinach can release so much green colour to fabrics, and we are here for it! 

Add twice as much water as you have spinach, bring it to a boil, and then allow it to simmer for an hour. Strain, and you'll have your dye! Another method with spinach is to blend first to make a paste! 

4. Black Beans 

This one got us good! Did you know black beans have the power to dye your clothing BLUE?! Bye, bye discoloured jeans, hello beans! ( That rhyme was super unintentional, but we are here for it )! An interesting fact is that if you add baking soda to the water with your beans, you could create a cool green! Bonus!

5. Coffee & Tea

You may have tried this one before, but tea and coffee can give a beautiful beige to brown colouring through fabrics and works sensationally on linens! 

6. Pomegranate Skin

If you needed another excuse to grab a delicious pomegranate for "research", then this is the one. Pomegranate skins can create a natural yellow-gold coloured dye!

7. Onion Skins

White onion skins also create a yellow dye! 

(The longer it boils, the darker the shade will be.) 

Naturally dyeing fabric using cofee

Some Quick After Care… 

Before tossing a naturally-dyed garment in the washing machine, wash the item individually by hand in cold water to ensure that the colour has set and will seep into other pieces of clothing. Accidental tie-dye… 

What to do with the Dye Water: 

Because you have chosen to dye your clothes with entirely natural ingredients, any water left behind can go straight onto your garden and plants! 

So which one of these dyes will you be choosing first? Perhaps you have already tried one? Leave us a comment! 

If you loved this blog and want more ways to reduce your food waste check out our blog aboutEasy Tips to Reducing Your Food Waste. You can also head to ourSustainable Living Blog for more tips and tricks for your eco journey! 

GFZ Team xx

1 Response

Clorine Jackson
Clorine Jackson

December 01, 2022

Love this item. Thank you. I’ve thought of dying clothes before but don’t see the dyes anymore in supermarkets! What a great idea this is and maybe manufacturers of clothes need to know about it.

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