Dyeing fabrics with tea is a very easy and inexpensive way to change the look of dish towels and kitchen towels, t-shirts or any other fabric. Although tea doesn't make a big difference in white materials, it can help to mask stains and give a vintage feel to the pieces. Best of all, as long as you can boil water, you can dye any fabric with the tea.
Part 1 of 3: Making tea
Step 1. Remove the tea bag from its packaging and cut its string
To prepare the tea, unpack the tea bag and discard the packaging. Use scissors to remove the string and throw it away too.
- Black tea will work best for dyeing as it has a very strong color. Lighter colored teas such as white tea or green tea will not work very well.
- If you prefer, it is also possible to use loose tea to carry out the dyeing. However, be aware that the process will be more messy than using sachets.
- The amount of sachets that should be used will depend on the amount or size of the fabric you want to dye and how much you want to darken it. You will need to use enough water to cover all the material, so the more water you use, the more tea bags you will need.
- As a general rule of thumb, you will need one teabag for every cup (240ml) of water. Remember that if you want the color to be darker, you will need to use more sachets.
Step 2. Boil a large pot of salted water
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the entire piece and allow it to move freely through the water. Add a few tablespoons of salt and place the pan on the stove over high heat until the water boils.
- In general, four glasses or one liter of water should be used for every meter of fabric that will be dyed.
- The salt added to the water will cause the color to stick to the fabric; thus, it will not come off easily during washes.
- Use two tablespoons of salt for every four cups (1 liter) of water.
Step 3. Let the tea work
Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add the tea bags. Leave them in the water until they change color; the ideal time, in most cases, is 15 minutes.
The longer the tea is infused, the darker the acquired color. Look carefully at the color of the water before adding the fabric until you reach the desired shade
Part 2 of 3: Submerging the Fabric
Step 1. Wash or wet the fabric
The material to be dyed must be wet before being introduced into the infusion. Wash the piece if it has already been used, removing any dirt or possible stains. If you are using a new material, just wet it with water before dyeing it. Remember to twist it well before dyeing.
- Dyeing with tea will only work on natural fibers such as cotton, silk or wool; not working on synthetic fabrics such as polyester.
- You will need to wring the fabric well before you dye it, but it is important not to let it dry completely.
Step 2. Remove tea bags and add fabric
When the tea is the desired color, remove the bags from the water and discard them. Place the wet piece in the tea water, submerging it completely.
- Use a wooden spoon or something to stir the fabric and make sure it has reached the end of the pan and is completely submerged.
- Some parts of the fabric may blister and rise to the surface. Use the spoon to hold the entire piece in the water.
Step 3. Soak the fabric in water for about an hour
Once it is completely submerged in the tea, leave it there for at least 60 minutes. Keep in mind that the longer the material is submerged in the tea, the darker the dye.
- So that the dye is clearly visible, let the fabric soak overnight.
- Stir the fabric during the process so that it is evenly dyed.
- Remove the tea piece from time to time to observe the coloration. Keep in mind that when wet, the material will look darker than it actually will when it's dry. So let it reach a slightly darker color than you want.
Part 3 of 3: Rinsing and Drying the Fabric
Step 1. Rinse the fabric and submerge it in cold water with vinegar
Once you reach the desired color, remove the piece from the tea and rinse it with cold water. Soak it for about ten minutes in a mixture of cold water and vinegar so that the color sets on the fabric.
If the smell of tea is a nuisance, wash the fabric by hand using soap for delicate items
Step 2. Twist the fabric to remove excess water and tea
After soaking the fabric in the water-vinegar mixture, wring out any remaining excess liquid. Stretch the piece in a warm, light place, letting it dry naturally.
Depending on the type of fabric used, it is possible to use a dryer
Step 3. Iron the piece with the iron
The fabric may be quite wrinkled after the entire procedure. So iron it with an iron to make it look better and look better.
Pay attention to the type of material before ironing. The more durable fabrics, such as cotton and linen, withstand heat easily; on the other hand, the more delicate ones, such as silk and heavy wool, may need special care. Consult the iron's instruction manual for exact features and settings for each type of fabric
- Cotton is the material that responds best to dyeing with tea.
- It is possible to create a tie-dye effect by tying parts of the fabric with rubber bands before placing it in the tea. Remove the elastics as soon as the garment is completely dry.
- You can also create dotted effects on the fabric by spreading coarse salt crystals over it after dyeing. The salt will absorb the color during drying, leaving some dotted spots on the piece.
- Don't throw the tea away right after removing the fabric from it; it may be necessary to re-immerse the material in the tea if the color is not yet ideal.