So you’re fed up with boring and predictable everyday outfits. You want to break the monotony and wear something fresh and made with your own hands. A relatively unknown way to do so is by dyeing your clothes using food scraps. Yup, you can experiment with your leftover pantry items to make a wide range of pigments—from a deep purple to a bright orange—without any harsh chemicals. You can use a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices to create a truly original outfit that will make you look like no other person on the street. Best of all, the process is sustainable and eco-friendly as it somehow helps reduce food waste.
When boiled, beets release a red-violet pigment called betanin, making them an effective natural colorant. Start off by mixing a cup of vinegar with four cups of water (1:4 ratio). Bring it to a boil and soak your fabric in the mixture for an hour. This will help make the color last longer.
Next, chop beets into large chunks and dilute it to four or five parts water, depending on how vibrant you want it to be. Simmer for one to two hours. If you want a deeper color though, use more beets than water and let it simmer for longer than two hours.
Lastly, submerge the fabric in your beet mixture and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. Air-dry the fabric after or hang it under the sun.
Turmeric has always been known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. But who would’ve thought that it can also be used to dye fabric? Similar to beets, prepare the fabric by soaking it in a boiling vinegar-water mixture.
Disperse 1/4 to 3/4 cup of turmeric powder in two cups of water and let it boil. Feel free to add more if you want a brighter yellow. Submerge the vinegar-soaked fabric in the turmeric mixture for an hour or two before hanging to dry.
As usual, soak the fabric in your diluted vinegar solution. Brew coffee in a separate pot. Using a darker roast will result in darker dye. Be sure you don’t leave any grounds at the bottom of your pot; otherwise, they will leach out over time and give your fabric an unwelcome gray cast.
Once brewed, add the pre-soaked fabric in and let it sit for however long you prefer. Remember, the longer you let it steep, the more intense the dye will come out. Hang to dry.
(P.S. Coffee works best with cotton or linen.)
Proper handling of naturally dyed clothes
Naturally dyed clothes will last depending on how you take care of them. To avoid fading quickly, wash them at a low temperature. Avoid the use of harsh laundry detergents and opt for gentle and fragrance-free liquid soaps. Don’t use a washing machine or a dryer. You also have to make sure not to squeeze excess water from the clothes too hard. Just let them air-dry, but avoid exposure to the sun for too long.