How to Dye With Red Cabbage? – (Easy 6 Steps)

Last Updated on August 5, 2023

Red cabbage may not have the most pleasant aroma when cooked, but it has the potential to create stunning and vibrant colors. Here, we will explore how to extract a beautiful purple dye from red cabbage.

How to Dye With Red Cabbage
Image Source: Canva

How to Dye with red cabbage?

This dye is considered fugitive, meaning it will fade over time, but the initial result is truly lovely. Red cabbage dye is also known as a “gateway dye” due to its accessibility and ease of use. So let’s head to the kitchen, chop up some cabbage, and discover the colorful possibilities.

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Materials Needed

  • Red cabbage
  • Water
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Heat source (stove or hot plate)
  • Strainer or cheesecloth
  • pH adjusters (optional)
  • Items to dye (fabric, yarn, paper, etc.)

Instructions – How do you make red cabbage natural dye?

Here are the steps to extract a stunning purple dye from red cabbage.

1. Prepare the Cabbage

Prepare the Cabbage
Image Source: Youtube (Margaret Byrd: Color Quest)
  • Take a fresh red cabbage and remove any outer leaves that are damaged or discolored.
  • Rinse the cabbage under running water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  • Slice the cabbage into small pieces or shred it for easier extraction of color.

2. Extract the Dye

Extract the Dye
Image Source: Youtube (Margaret Byrd: Color Quest)
  • Fill a stainless steel pot with enough water to cover the cabbage.
  • Place the pot on the stove or hot plate and bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the chopped cabbage to the boiling water and let it simmer for about 30-60 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on the pot to prevent it from boiling over, and adjust the heat if necessary.

3. Strain the Dye

Strain the Dye
Image Source: Youtube (Margaret Byrd: Color Quest)
  • After simmering, turn off the heat and allow the cabbage dye to cool down.
  • Carefully strain the dye using a strainer or cheesecloth into a separate container, removing all solid cabbage remnants.
  • You now have your vibrant purple dye ready for use.

4. Dyeing with Red Cabbage

  • Prepare the items you want to dye by washing and wetting them.
  • Submerge the items in the cabbage dye, ensuring they are fully saturated.
  • Let the items soak in the dye for several hours or overnight to achieve deeper color penetration.
  • Remember that red cabbage dye is fugitive so the color will fade.

5. pH Adjustments (Color Shifting)

pH Adjustments (Color Shifting)
Image Source: Youtube (Margaret Byrd: Color Quest)
  • Red cabbage dye is sensitive to the pH of the water it is exposed to.
  • To experiment with different colors, you can adjust the pH of the water used in the dyeing process.
  • Acidic solutions, such as adding lemon juice or vinegar, can shift the color towards pink or red tones.
  • Alkaline solutions, such as adding baking soda, can shift the color towards bluish or greenish tones.

6. Finishing Touches

How to Dye With Red Cabbage
Image Source: Youtube (Margaret Byrd: Color Quest)
  • After dyeing, rinse the items thoroughly with water to remove excess dye.
  • Allow the items to air dry or follow specific care instructions based on the material being dyed.

Tips from TheSewingStuffs      

  • Remember to wear gloves to protect your hands from staining during the dyeing process.
  • Experiment with different materials and fabric types to observe how the color takes.
  • Remember that different batches of red cabbage may produce slightly varying shades of purple.
  • Store any leftover dye in a sealed container in the refrigerator for future use, as it can be used for subsequent dyeing sessions.

What color dye from red cabbage?

Red cabbage can produce a range of colors when used as a dye, including intense pink, purple, and blue hues. However, it’s important to note that achieving stronger or deeper colors may be more challenging when dyeing with cotton as the main fiber.

Can I make purple dye with cabbage?

Yes, you can make purple dye with cabbage. Dice the cabbage finely and place it in a dye pot. Cover the cabbage with water and add a tablespoon of salt for every 1/2 cabbage. Simmer for approximately half an hour to extract as much color as possible. Finally, strain off the cabbage, squeezing it to extract any remaining color.

Does red cabbage dye fade?

Yes, red cabbage dye is considered fugitive and will fade over time, even if a mordant is used.


Dyeing with red cabbage is a simple and accessible way to create beautiful purple colors. While the resulting dye is fugitive and will fade over time, the initial vibrancy and ease of the process make it an excellent choice for beginners.

Furthermore, by adjusting the pH of the water, you can explore various color shifts. So grab some red cabbage, unleash your creativity, and enjoy the magic of natural dyeing.

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