After recently sharing one of my favorite avocado hacks a few weeks ago, I realized that I have another fun and easy project you can do with avocados! Did you know that you can dye fabric and clothes with a natural dye made from avocado pits?? They make the most gorgeous shade of light pink that is perfect for transforming table linens, clothing, and pretty much any other natural fiber like cotton, linen or hemp. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for making this awesome plant-based fabric dye.
What color do avocado pits dye?
You can achieve a range of pinks tones including light pink, deep pink, and sometimes even a rich, russet red. The tannins in the avocado seed are what creates the pink color in the natural dye. Keep in mind that the colors will vary, which is just part of the process.
Can you tie dye with avocado pits?
Yes, follow the step by step instructions below. I’ve added a note where you should twist and tie up the fabric to achieve a tie dye effect on your fabric.
Easy DIY Project: How To Make Natural Dye with Avocado Pits
- Clean avocado pits — After cutting into my avocado, I wash the pit and then collect them in a jar and freeze them until I’m ready to make my natural dye.
- 2-3 pieces of fabric or clothing made of 100% natural fibers like cotton, hemp or linen. For this tutorial, I used these affordable white cotton napkins and have a few other recommended items to dye below!
- Large nonreactive metal pot
- Nonreactive metal spoon or tongs
- Natural liquid laundry detergent like Seventh Generation
- Rubber bands or twine, optional but essential if you want a tie dye look
Step 1: Scour the fabric
Basically, you will want whatever you’re dyeing to be as clean as possible to prepare it to be dyed. I suggest washing the items on the hottest setting in your washing machine with a liquid laundry detergent and no fabric softener.
Step 2: Make the dye
Add the avocado pits to the pot and fill it with water. Then bring it to a slow simmer. You should start to see the water turn pink after about 30 minutes. After that, test the strength of the dye by dipping in pieces of paper towels or scraps of fabric that are the same fiber composition as what you want to dye.
This step of the process is truly trial-and-error. If you want a darker, more saturated color you can add more avocado pits and also soak your fabric longer (even overnight). I’ve also read that some people will do this process twice in order to get better color saturation. Basically, that means they will simmer the pits, drain the water, and then simmer again in fresh water.
Be sure not to simmer for too long because that will make the dye turn brown — which is not the result we want! Remove the dye from heat when you’re happy with the color.
Step 3: Prepare to dye your fabric
Wet the fabric thoroughly in cold water, letting it soak to make sure it is fully wet. Squeeze and wring out the fabric, then submerge again to ensure it’s ready. This will ensure that your clothing takes the dye evenly, so I will even let the fabric soak for 20 minutes if I’m feeling patient. Squeeze out the excess water before adding it to the dye bath.
If you want to use the avocado dye to tie die clothes and textiles, this is when you should tie the items with rubberbands or twine. For example, I folded some of the napkins a few times and then tied them with 3 rubberbands each. For even more fun, I chose to dip dye them, too. To do that, I draped them over the side of the pot so only part of the napkins are submerged.
Step 4: Dye your fabric
Once you’re happy with the test swatches, add the wet fabric to the pot and fully submerge it with the metal spoon or tongs, stirring and making sure it is fully in the dye. After about 10 minutes, check the fabric to make sure it’s starting to change colors.
Keep in mind that the longer the fabric soaks, the richer and more saturated your color will be! If you keep your fabric in the natural dye longer, be sure to stir frequently while it’s soaking and check back often. To achieve the color saturation that you see in these photos, I soaked my napkins for 24 hours.
Step 5: Rinse and hang to dry
When you’ve reached your desired shade of pink, remove the fabric from the metal pot. Keep in mind that the fabric will dry lighter, so factor that in while deciding on if you’re happy with the shade.
Next, rinse in cold water with a natural laundry detergent, then hang the fabric to air dry.
Some people recommend using an iron at the hottest setting to do a once over in order to set the color. This is a step that I sometimes skip if I’m feeling impatient.
Want more fabric dyeing projects? Learn all about how to ice dye, my most popular tutorial ever!
A few commonly asked questions about making natural dye with avocados:
Does avocado dye fade?
I’ve found that avocado dye lasts really well! Eventually, the pink dye does fade a little bit, but I always chalk that up to the natural fading of clothing and fabric over time from use and washing. If you want, you can use a mordant like alum to additional colorfastness.
Does avocado dye need a mordant?
A mordant is basically a dye fixative which means it binds the dye to the fabric and helps to ensure color fastness from the dye. Science! The cool part about dying with avocado seeds is that the tannins in the seed actually act as a mordant already.
Is avocado dye toxic?
No! This plant-based dye is 100% natural because it is literally just water and avocado pits.
Can you reuse avocado dye?
Yes! I keep mine sealed in mason jars, especially if I decide that I want more saturated color later on. Plus, it’s always fun to dye stuff on a whim. If you want to reuse it, warm up the dye to a simmer and follow the rest of the steps.
Recommended things to dye with avocados:
I love to use my avocado dye on table linens like napkins, runners, and tablecloths. But you can also use it on clothing and fabric yardage, too. Just make sure that the fabric content is 100% natural fibers like cotton, hemp, or linen. Synthetics won’t take the dye the same way, if at all.
So tell me: have you ever dyed fabric or clothing with avocado pits?? If you haven’t already, definitely try out this easy DIY. And tag me on Instagram so I can see what you made!