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How To Naturally Tie Dye Clothing

Did you know leaves, flowers, herbs, and fruits can all be used to create beautiful, vivid, natural dyes?!

If you’re looking to add some color to your wardrobe, try experimenting with natural pigments to create cool, unique clothing or revive older styles!

Why use natural dyes?

Made from materials found in nature, natural dyes are biodegradable, azo-free, and don’t contain any harmful chemicals or carcinogens… A total win-win for us and the environment!

Learn more about the dangers of azo dyes here.

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • Clothing or fabric made from natural materials like cotton, linen, or silk | For this post, we used plain white organic cotton pajamas from Hanna Andersson.
  • Dye materials to make the dye of your choosing (or plant based dyes)
  • Rubber Bands
  • Vinegar or Salt Fixative (see “Tips” below)
  • Stainless Steel Pots and Stainless Steel Strainer
  • Wooden Spoon or Tongs
  • Newspaper or Cardboard
  • Optional Squirt Bottles (you can even reuse old ketchup or mustard bottles) and Gloves if you don’t want your fingers colored!


  1. Cover your workspace with newspaper or cardboard.
  2. Soak your fabric in a fixative for at least 1 hour. We used a vinegar to water ratio of 1:3 and soaked our clothing for 1.5 hours. Allowing the clothing to soak, helps the dye adhere to the fabric better and prevent fading.
  3. Make the natural dye, while your fabric is soaking. Chop fruits, veggies, leaves, or flowers (the smaller the better). Add natural materials to water (ratio of approximately 1:3). Then, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 60 minutes give or take.
  4. After allotted time, remove clothing from the vinegar and rinse in cool water.
  5. Tie rubber bands around the clothing to create fun tie-dye patterns! Check out some pattern ideas here.
  6. Dip clothing in the dye of your choice. You can also try pouring the dye over the fabric although, in some instances, this may not allow the dye to properly adhere to the clothing and result in fading.
  7. Allow clothing to soak for 1-24 hours. We rinsed after 2 hours. Depending on what natural dye materials you use, you may want to soak longer.
  8. Rinse clothing (and rubber bands) with cold water until the water runs clear.
  9. Dry. We dried it in the dryer, although some people say to air dry.


The following are natural materials I’ve used to create fun dyes! Get creative with plants from your garden, veggies in your fridge, spices on your rack or anything else you’d like to experiment with!

  • YELLOWS | Marigolds, Dandelions, or Turmeric (2 tbs per 6 cups of water is what I used)
  • PURPLES | Red Cabbage or Blueberries
  • REDS | Frozen Cherries
  • PINKS | Avocado Pits and Skins or Beets
  • BLUES | Black Beans (soak overnight, drain beans)
  • GREENS | Grass, Spinach, or Nettle
  • PURPLE – RED – GREYS | Red Wine
  • ORANGES | Carrots
  • BROWNS | Coffee or Tea

For the purposes of this post, my daughter and I used a grass and spinach mixture for green, turmeric and marigolds for yellow (although the turmeric is what really made the color ‘pop’), and a mixture of cherries and red wine for the purple. Be sure to strain the cherries (we didn’t – whoops!).

We’re all ready for bed!

Natural Dye Tips & Tricks

  • The longer you let your fabric soak, the better!
  • Repeat washings may cause the colors to fade. I noticed this a bit with my red/purples made from red wine and cherries. The turmeric dye has held up wonderfully!
  • For berries and fruits, use salt as the fixative with a ratio of 1/2 cup of salt to 8 cups of water. For veggies, use 2-3 cups of vinegar to 8 cups of water.
  • Avoid using dried plants.

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