Introduction: How to Tea-Dye (Step-by-step Instructions for Dying Fabric Using Tea)
These step-by-step instructions will guide you smoothly through the process of dying your fabric using tea. No experience necessary!
Step 1: Supplies Needed
1. White, cotton-based fabric (i.e. sheet, t-shirt, pillowcase)
2. Bags of black tea (number of bags depends on fabric size and color desired)
3. A clean tub (heatproof; either metal or steel), or sink with a stopper
(Note: we will refer to this as “tub-1,” used to hold hot water )
4. A second clean tub (either metal or plastic)
(Note: we will refer to this as “tub-2,” used to hold cold water)
5. 1-3 pots (large and clean)
9. Wooden spoon (or other stirring utensil)
10. Clothespins (optional)
11. Trash can
These step-by-step instructions are divided into 4 major parts: PREP (steps take place near/on stove), TUB-1 (takes place in tub-1), TUB-2 (takes place in tub-2), and DRY (takes place anywhere).
Step 3: PREP
1. Gather all supplies. Be sure that your workplace is clean (to keep your fabric and water clean).
2. Begin boiling water in a pot on the stove. Use as many pots as necessary to boil enough water for use in step 3; you will soon need to fill your tub-1 (metal tub or sink).
Step 5: TUB-1 (heatproof Tub or Sink)
3. When your water begins to boil, carefully pour this water into tub-1. Keep adding boiling water to tub-1 until it has enough water to completely cover your fabric.
a. Warning: The water is scalding hot. Do not do not overfill your tub-1.
4. Check your tea bags to make sure they are not leaking leafy-bits. These bits can ruin your fabric.
a. Note: The amount of bags you use depends on the darkness of the color you desire. More bags = darker color; less bags = lighter color.
5. Drop tea bags into the boiling water in tub-1 to steep for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until your water is entirely dark brown.
6. Carefully remove tea-bags from tub-1 using tongs.
7. Using tongs, carefully add your fabric to the hot tea in tub-1. Completely submerge the fabric. Swish fabric around to remove folds or air-pockets in the fabric.
8. Allow fabric to soak in the hot tea for 1-2 hours, depending on the amount of fabric you are dying and your desired color (you can’t really go wrong here; just use your sight to gauge the coloring). Stir occasionally to make sure no folds or air-pockets have formed.
9. When you are ready to move your dyed fabric out of the hot tea in tub-1, use tongs to un-stop the sink or carefully pour out the tea from your metal tub.
10. Once tub-1 has drained, use the tongs to wring out excess tea in the fabric into tub-1. Warning: remember that your fabric is hot from the boiling water. After cooling for a few minutes, your fabric should be cool enough to wring with your hands.
11. You are now done with tub-1.
12. Fill the second, separate tub (tub-2) with cold water.
Step 15: TUB-2
13. You are now ready to transfer your fabric into the cold water in tub-2. The cold water helps the color set into the fabric.
14. Soak fabric in the cold water in tub-2 for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
15. Once your fabric has finished soaking, pour out the cold water in tub-2.
Step 18: DRY
16. Wring out excess water from your fabric.
Air-dry or use a dryer to completely dry your fabric. Use clothespins, if desired, to hang and dry your fabric outside or in your shower. Once your fabric is completely dry, you may use it however you’d like.
a. Note: For all future washes, wash the fabric in cold water to maintain its color.
Step 20: Fun Tea-Dye Ideas
When fabric is completely dry, it is totally up to you to decide what you want to do with it!
• Make a vintage-looking bed-set.
• Hang vintage-inspired curtains.
• Create an article of clothing that appears to be vintage (hats, t-shirts, tops, pants, socks, shoes, gloves.
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