How to Dye Fabric With Tea

How to Dye Fabric With Tea. Dying or staining fabric items with tea can give new life to those that are faded or stained, and it can produce a beautifully soft antique or light sepia tint. The process of tea dying is relatively quick, easy and inexpensive, and results in a light, colorwash effect compared to the heavier, opaque coverage of denser commercial dyes.

Prepare the Coffee Dye

Step 1

Boil several cups of water and add several tea bags to an appropriate container.

Step 2

Fill the container with enough water to fully submerge your item. It is best to select a container that you don't mind staining. It is also better to use a container that is lighter rather than darker in color so you can get a better feel for how dark your tea solution is.

Step 3

Add the tea to the water a little at a time until you are satisfied with the depth of the solution's color. How dark a solution you start with should depend on how dark you want your finished fabric to be, but generally a weaker solution is better as it will allow you more time to pull your fabric before it gets too dark.

Test Swatch

Step 1

Cut a small swatch of fabric to use as a test. If your item has no fabric to spare, try to find a swatch of fabric as close in fiber and age to that of your item and use that.

Step 2

Saturate the swatch with clear water and then submerge it in the tea dye. Stir the swatch to keep it moving. Check it every few minutes for color depth.

Step 3

Remove the item when you have the color you want and rinse it in clear water until the water runs clean.

Step 4

Examine the swatch for color depth and consistency, and determine if you will need to leave your item in the dye longer or pull it sooner to get the shade you want.

Dye Your Item

Step 1

Saturate your item with clear water and shake it out so that there are no folds or creases that might cause the tea dye to absorb unevenly. Then submerge the item in the tea dye.

Step 2

Remove the item from the tea dye when you have achieved your desired depth of color and rinse it in clear water until the water runs clean.

Step 3

Wring out all excess water and dry your item.


Use chamomile tea for a light, golden glow. Tea dyeing works best on natural fiber fabrics, such as cotton, muslin and linen.


Make sure the container is made of a nonreactive material, such as glass, stainless steel or plastic. Natural metals, such as copper or iron, can react with the acid in tea and throw off your intended result. Tea-dyed fabrics hold up better and longer when washed by hand. Beware of commercial detergents because these often will be designed to remove natural "stains."

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