My Approach to Dying Clothes with Tea

Tea Dye
Tea Dye

Using tea to dye fabrics and clothing is an easy, enjoyable way to give them a muted or antiqued look. In fact, tea dying can produce some very interesting visual results! Tea dying does not give consistent results however, and each article you dye will be different from the next.

Because you use teabags to dye your project, this is not recommended for large articles like blankets.  However t-shirts, socks, tea towels and other similarly sized items are ideal. Please note that tea will only dye 100% natural fibers. Cotton is ideal, however you may also use silk, linen, and perhaps even wool. Tea dying will not work on polyester or similar man-made fabrics. You can also use tea to dye your own yarn as well! However the stain is only semi-permanent – most modern detergents will remove tea stain from clothing, so hand-washing may be more appropriate.

To stain the item, bring 4 cups of water per yard of fabric to boil. After the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat, then add 2 tea bags per 8 ounces of water, or more, depending on how darkly you would like the fabric dyed. Experimentation is best at this point. Leave the tea to steep for approximately 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and place the article to be dyed in the water. If you would like a mottled effect, don’t move the article at all in the water, however if you would like a smooth even dye all over, swish the water around for a few minutes to cover the article evenly.

Once you’ve dyed your cloth or yarn to achieve the look you want, remove it from the tea bath and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear. You will lose a lot of color doing this, so if it turns out too light for you, you can soak it longer until you achieve the desired effect – you can even soak it overnight for a dark brown color! Once you’ve achieved the look you desire, place the yarn or fabric in the dryer and tumble dry.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

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