How to dye clothes or fabric in a natural way

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By Rachel

dye clothes in an environmentally friendly way

Curious about natural colors? Ever wondered how to dye clothes in an environmentally friendly manner? Just follow this easy step-by-step guide.

Why dye clothes in an environmentally friendly way?

Have you ever felt fed up with an old piece of clothing that has been stuck in a drawer for a long time? Have you ever regretted having bought a white dress? Does your favourite canvass shopping bag begin to grow tired and make you feel sad when you go to the grocery store?

Don’t fret! You can dye clothes in an environmentally friendly way. What’s more, dying fabric can be a fun activity to do with your children, or even for a birthday party. Younger guests will be impressed!

Natural methods to dye clothes and fabric have been around since ancient Egyptian times. They used both vegetable and animal based raw materials both to dye fabrics and hair.

The process is a little bit complicated, but the result will surprise you! You can dye clothes to achieve any colour, although using natural dyes it’s impossible to get all the nuances of colours available from chemical based commercial products. But the “natural” style never goes out of fashion and the awareness that what you dye is environment friendly will be a source of pride!!

How to dye clothes naturally: before getting started

First, it is important to remember that not all fabrics can be dyed in a natural way. You will get good results with those made of vegetable fibers such as cotton, silk and wool. Synthetic fibers (lycra, nylon, rayon, Dacron) and mixed ones do not lend themselves to the dying process.

All that you will need are a large stainless steel pan (old pans will be perfect), coarse salt (which acts as a fixative) and the chosen color. There are several on the market and even online-color pages with tables where you can find lists of berries, flowers, fruits and spices that help you get a certain color. All you need is a bit of immagination, from blueberry juice, for example, you can get a purplish tinge, red rose petals on the other hand will give you a red colour!

For earth tones, ecru, bronze and brown you can use tea bags or coffee grounds. Spices such as turmeric, saffron and curry are also excellent.

Not to mention that wines are perfect to give shades of red or burgundy!

How to dye clothes
How to dye clothes and fabric in an eco-friendly way: tie dye cotton fabric by natural material Mango leaves.

How to dye clothes in a natural way: a step-by-step guide

Let’s see quickly the steps required to dye clothes in an environmentally friendly manner.

1. First weigh out the natural raw materials that you have chosen. They must be of the same weight as the clothes or fabric to be dyed.

2. For example if you want to dye 1kg of wool you will need 1kg of raw materials. Also, when dying a ball of wool it must be unwound otherwise some parts will remain uncoloured.

3. You should wash clothes or fabrics before proceeding with the dye, glue residue or other material could compromise the final result.

4. Melt the salt in the water, you will need a tablespoons of salt for every quarter liter of water.

5. Identify the ingredient to be used as natural component and boil in the salted water for about an hour or so until the water has reached the desired colour.

6. If you use tea bags or other concoctions (such as berries or cranberries for red to purple) leave to infuse directly in the water. If you use flowers on the other hand you can make them into a paste to blend with the boiling water.

7. Once the desired shade (and remember, however, that the color of the water will always be darker than then final result) has been achieved leave to cool.

8. Now you need to filter the water to remove berries, leaves or anything else that could damage the fabric.

9. Put the pot on the fire and soak the clothes, making sure they are fully immersed and stir.

10. Let your clothes simmer for at least 2 hours and until to see that the clothes have turned the colour that you wish.

11. Turn off the heat and leave the clothes or fabric in water until it has cooled.

Finally your clothes are the colour you wanted them to be (hopefully!) Not bad, and above all, your clothes with be 100% green!

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