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Dyeing Fabric With Tea

Category Fabric
If you are looking for an inexpensive, natural dye for clothing or any fabric, try tea. This is a guide about dyeing fabric with tea.


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May 21, 20043 found this helpful

I needed a tan bolero jacket to wear over a dress. I didn't have any extra money to buy one, so I had a white one that I very seldom wore. I took an 8 qt. stainless steel pot, put in 10 iced-tea sized tea bags and water, then let it boil. When it was done boiling, I saturated my white bolero in cold water. I then put it in the tea water and let it boil for about 15 minutes. After 15 min., I took it out and threw it in the washer on the rinse cycle with 1/2 cup of salt to set the dye. It came out beautifully. It was tan and matched my dress perfectly! I've washed it 2 or 3 times, and it's still a light tan color.


By Jackie S.

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By guest client (Guest Post)
May 21, 20040 found this helpful

Good idea...but wouldn't a box of dye been a lot cheaper than all those tea bags?

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 14, 20050 found this helpful

My daughter is going to be in a wedding in September, and the dress she has is White, the bride was going to buy a white dress but decided on Ivory. We want the bride and flowergirl to match, would dying my daughters dress with tea make it ivory? the material of the dress is nylon organza with satin polyester lining any answers to this question would be greatly appreciated!

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 14, 20050 found this helpful

I'm dying my daughter's favorite capri jeans with tea. They had a "tea colored" stain that would not come out, so, if you can't beat them, join them!!

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 31, 20070 found this helpful


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June 4, 20120 found this helpful

Tea or coffee will dye natural fabrics - cotton, silk, wool, etc. It will not work well on synthetics. I recently dyed a cotton skirt using used coffee grounds that Starbucks will give to gardeners to use in compost in our gardens. The skirt was bought at a thrift store and will be used as part of a volunteer uniform for an organization with a significant interest in environmental causes. I look forward to sending them the info for our newsletter!

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June 5, 20120 found this helpful

I did this with white sheets to make country curtains. One lesson I learned-make sure ALL of the sheets are the same type material. Sheets came from thrift stores and turned out beautifully-complete with lots of ruffles.

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June 5, 20120 found this helpful

Sara - I would be very wary of dying anything nylon with anything, and certainly not with tea. Polyesters and nylon are much more difficult to dye than natural fibers. I expect this was an expensive dress; if it was my child, I'd have her wear it the way it is; you don't want to ruin it.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 21, 2009

I have these white curtains, 70% Polyester and 30% cotton. I want to dye them a medium tan to go with my new couches. I was wondering if anyone ever used coffee or teabags as a dye. Or should I buy that RIT dye? I've heard you could use coffee and tea, but I'm not sure how much to put in a bucket and how long do I keep it in the bucket? Thank you very much!


By Patti102007 from CT

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 7, 20160 found this helpful

You'll want to use black tea, and/or coffee for this, and go for a darker look than you desire. Maybe leave it in longer too, as the poly content won't take the dye, and you'll want to absorb what you can in the cotton. I tried to dye a poly cotton blend black but was only able to get it a gray, if that helps. I'm sorry but this is a hit or miss. And you can use rit dye too, but same scenario. No matter what due you use, though, you'll want to boil it, and try both salt and vinegar to set the stain.

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April 21, 20090 found this helpful

I have a white floor-length flared skirt (lots of cotton and linen material) that I desperately want to dye. I'm going for a dusky, vintage, brown look, like something out of a thrift store. I thought about tea staining - can you control that much material on a stove top? I've never dyed before, so I am a complete novice. I need all the help I can get!


moondog from Tulsa, OK


Tea Dying Tips

I wouldn't think unless the fabric was thin like sheer curtains, (who would have a pot that big?) and what a mess trying to wring it out. Are you sure there isn't a dye from the store that may work? Try a fabric store as they may carry more choices, and then use your washers gentle cycle. Also consider your fabric content. If it's all cotton, maybe try a blend of two colors. If it's got any nylon or polyester in it, it will tint lighter than cotton would. Good luck. (03/08/2006)

By brtammy

Tea Dying Tips

You could use your washer on the gentle cycle. Turn your hot water tank up high temporarily, and use lots of tea bags (bought at the dollar store of course). Cut a couple of test pieces of material from the hem or seams of your skirt, to see the time needed for the effect you want.
If you don't want to use your washer, use a large bucket in your laundry tub to soak the skirt, and just use your spin cycle when it is done. Tea dying means the water has to be hot, but it does not have to boil. If you can turn your hot water tank up high temporarily, you can get water that is hot enough. Try the test strips no matter what method you use. I have tea dyed a cotton shirt, and some bone jewelry that was too white. I got a nice antique look. I used a bucket with really hot water and the spin cycle. (03/08/2006)

By jean

Tea Dying Tips

I dyed an old children's christening gown (about 50 years old) using left over coffee. Placed my gown in the sink, poured coffee over the dress, allowed to soak until desired color achieved, then allowed it to air dry. Will be lighter when dry, but very pretty ivory color achieved with no cost. (03/09/2006)

By Diana

Tea Dying Tips

The key to any dyeing project (whether tea-staining or Rit dye-type product) is to be sure that the fabric is wet before you immerse it in the dye bath and be sure that you use a large enough vessel that the fabric isn't crowded. If you don't follow these two rules, you are likely to get a blotchy, uneven result. I would use a basement sink (if you have one) or the bathtub. (You can probably get the tub clean by using a solution of bleach afterward, especially since you aren't going to be using an intense/dark dye bath.)

I can't tell from your description of cotton and linen material, whether the skirt is a fabric blend or is made up of several different fabrics in panels or patches. If the latter, each fabric is likely to take the dye differently so you may get several different shades/intensities of the color throughout the garment. (03/09/2006)

By Claudia -MD

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February 26, 20170 found this helpful

Can l tea die a cotton bedskirt in the washing machine?

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February 26, 20170 found this helpful

Could l do step everyone suggests but dye my bedskirt in the washing machine?

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