Can You Dye Fabric With Tea? – (How to)

Last Updated on August 5, 2023

Why not give tea dying a go if you’re seeking for a natural and environmentally friendly approach to color your fabric? Tea dyeing is a simple and accessible technique that can produce beautiful, earthy tones on various fabric types.

Can You Dye Fabric With Tea
Image Source: Onyx Art Studios, Canva

Can you dye fabric with tea?

Yes, you can dye fabric with tea. We’ll take you step-by-step through the entire process of dying fabric with tea in this article, from initial preparation to the final touches. Let’s get going!

Materials Needed

  1. Fabric (cotton, linen, silk, or other natural fibers)
  2. Tea bags or loose tea leaves (black tea or herbal tea)
  3. Large pot or basin
  4. Water
  5. Heat source (stove or kettle)
  6. Strainer
  7. Spoon or tongs
  8. Natural fabric dye fixative (optional)
  9. Natural soap or mild detergent
  10. Clean towels or paper towels
  11. Clothesline or drying rack

Steps to dye fabric with tea

Here are the steps you may follow:

Step 1: Choosing the Right Fabric

Select a fabric made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, or silk. These materials tend to absorb color more effectively than synthetic fabrics.

Step 2: Preparing the Tea Solution

Put enough water in a big pot or basin to completely cover the fabric. The size of the fabric piece will determine how much water is used. Bring the water to a boil, and then add tea bags or loose tea leaves according to the desired strength of color. Use more tea for darker shades.

Step 3: Steeping the Fabric

Remove the pot from the heat source once the tea solution has achieved the appropriate strength. Make sure the fabric is completely soaked in the pot before putting it in. Let the fabric steep in the tea solution for at least an hour for richer hues. 

Step 4: Fixing the Color (Optional)

If you want the color to last longer and resist fading, consider using a natural fabric dye fixative. Dissolve the fixative in warm water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and add it to the tea solution before soaking the fabric. This step helps to set the color and make it more permanent.

Step 5: Removing the Fabric and Rinsing 

After achieving the desired color, carefully remove the fabric from the tea solution using a spoon or tongs. After letting any extra liquid drain, rinse the fabric in cold water until the water is clear. Without wringing, gently squeeze out any extra water.

Step 6: Washing and Drying the Fabric 

Wash the dyed fabric separately using a natural soap or mild detergent to remove any remaining tea residue. Rinse thoroughly, and then gently squeeze out excess water again. Pat the fabric dry with clean towels or paper towels, and then hang it on a clothesline or drying rack to air dry.

Step 7: Ironing and Finishing 

Once the fabric is completely dry, iron it to remove any wrinkles and set the color further. Use a low heat setting and place a clean cloth between the iron and the fabric to protect it. After ironing, your tea-dyed fabric is ready to be used for various crafts, clothing, or home decor projects.

What tea is best for dying fabric?

The best tea for dyeing fabric is black tea. Black tea provides the deepest and richest color, making it ideal for achieving desired shades on fabric. On the other hand, teas that are lighter in color, such as white or green teas, do not work as effectively for dyeing purposes.

However, if you prefer using loose tea, you can certainly use it to dye your fabric, as long as it is black tea. Remember, the tea concentration’s strength and the steeping duration will also influence the final color result.

Does tea-dying fabric last?

Image Source: Woodlark Blog

Tea dyeing fabric can result in beautiful, earthy tones; however, the longevity of the color may vary. While tea dyeing is generally considered permanent or colorfast, it’s important to note that the color may fade with repeated washing and exposure to sunlight.

To maximize the longevity of the tea-dyed color, it is recommended to rinse the fabric thoroughly until the water runs clear during the rinsing process. This helps to remove any excess tea residue that may continue to release color. Additionally, using a natural fabric dye fixative can help set the color and make it more resistant to fading.

 Overall, with good maintenance, the tea-dyed fabric can last very long. It’s crucial to realize that the color may progressively deteriorate with use and environmental exposure, just like with any natural dye.

How long does to soak in the tea to dye fabric?

To achieve the desired color when dyeing fabric with tea, you can soak the fabric for at least an hour. However, if you prefer a richer and darker color, you can extend the soaking time and leave it overnight. The longer the fabric soaks, the more intense the color will be.

To set the tea and ensure the color lasts longer, you can follow these additional steps:

  1. Create a solution by mixing two parts vinegar, one part water, and two tablespoons of salt.
  2. After soaking the fabric in the tea solution, remove it and transfer it to the vinegar-water-salt solution.
  3. Allow the fabric to soak in the vinegar solution for about 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse the fabric thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear.
  5. After rinsing, dry the fabric either by air drying or using a dryer.
  6. Once the fabric is dry, you can press it with an iron to remove any wrinkles and further set the color.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to achieve beautiful and long-lasting results when dyeing fabric with tea.

Can you wash tea-dyed fabric?

Yes, you can wash tea-dyed fabric. However, it’s important to note that rinsing or washing the fabric will remove some of the color that has set in. To preserve the tea-dyed color as much as possible, follow these guidelines:

  • Soaking: After the tea-dyeing process is complete, let the fabric soak overnight. This extended soaking helps the color to penetrate the fabric fibers and achieve a deeper shade.
  • Cold Water: Always use cold water when rinsing or washing tea-dyed fabric. The cold water helps minimize color bleeding and fading.
  • Gentle Washing: Wash the tea-dyed fabric separately or with similar colors to avoid color transfer. Use a gentle cycle and a mild detergent to prevent harsh agitation and unnecessary color loss.
  • Handwashing: If the fabric is delicate or you want to be extra cautious, consider handwashing. Gently agitate the fabric in a basin of cold water with a mild detergent, and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Air Drying: After washing, air dry the fabric by hanging it on a clothesline or laying it flat on a clean surface. Avoid using a dryer, as the heat can cause the color to fade more quickly.

It’s worth noting that with each wash, the tea-dyed fabric may experience some fading, giving it a softer, more vintage look. If you wish to maintain the color intensity for longer, consider using a fabric dye fixative before dyeing, as mentioned in the earlier guide.

How do you make tea dye darker?

To make tea dye darker, you can follow these steps:

  • Prepare a strong tea solution by using a higher concentration of tea bags or loose tea leaves. The more tea you use, the darker the dye will be.
  • Fill a large pot or basin with enough water to submerge the fabric fully. Bring the water to a boil, and then add the tea bags or loose tea leaves to create a strong brew.
  • Once the tea solution is ready, remove the pot from the heat source. Immerse the fabric into the pot, ensuring it is fully submerged.
  • Allow the fabric to steep in the tea solution for at least an hour. During this time, check the fabric every 15 minutes to monitor the color. Keep in mind that the color will look darker when wet.
  • If you desire an even darker color, you can choose to soak the fabric overnight. While soaking, make sure to agitate and stir the fabric occasionally so that the dye is absorbed evenly.
  • After achieving the desired color, carefully remove the fabric from the tea solution and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Proceed with washing and drying the fabric, as mentioned in the previous steps of the guide.

Video: Easy way to dye fabric with tea bags

Unleash Your Creativity with Natural Dyeing Techniques! Dive into the world of natural fabric dyeing with ‘My Sewing Room‘ as they guide you through an easy, eco-friendly method using coffee! Yes, your morning pick-me-up can also give your fabrics a stunning new look!


To further help, here are some answers to questions you may have about Tea dyeing fabric.

Can I use any tea for dyeing fabric? 

Yes, you can use different types of tea, such as black tea, green tea, or herbal tea. Experiment with different teas to achieve a variety of colors and tones.

Do I need to wash the fabric before dyeing? 

Washing the fabric before dyeing is generally recommended to remove any dirt, oils, or finishes that might hinder color absorption.

How can I achieve darker colors? 

To achieve darker colors, use a stronger tea concentration, steep the fabric longer, or repeat the dyeing process multiple times.

Can I dye synthetic fabrics with tea? 

Tea dyeing works best on natural cotton, linen, or silk fibers. Synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon may not absorb the color effectively.

How long will the tea-dyed color last? 

Tea dyeing produces a more subtle, vintage-like color that may fade over time with repeated washing and exposure to sunlight. Using a fabric dye fixative can help prolong the color’s lifespan.


Dyeing fabric with tea is a wonderful way to create unique and natural-looking colors. Whether you’re repurposing old fabric or adding a vintage touch to a new project, this technique offers a simple and enjoyable way to achieve beautiful results. So, gather your materials, put the kettle on, and let your creativity flow with tea dyeing!

2 thoughts on “Can You Dye Fabric With Tea? – (How to)”

  1. I appreciate your creativity and the effort you put into every dyeing tutorials. Keep up the great work!

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