Learn how to dye fabric with tea to makes a lovely patina for an aged look to a basic fabric. Sometimes this is referred to as tea staining fabric. Tea dyeing does not create a major change in the color of the textile, it’s a great and inexpensive way to create a vintage look to either new or old fabrics or clothing. Below is a step-by-step guide how to tea stain fabric.
Tea dyeing fabric is a natural, inexpensive and non-toxic way to change the color of your cloth. The tannnins in black tea make a great dye, giving your fabrics a nice patina. The tannins bond well to natural fibers, so you don’t need any mordants to assist with this, making tea dyeing an easy method.
Here are our tips and tricks on staining fabric with tea. We show you how to dye fabric with tea bags.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.
Is dyeing fabric with tea permanent?
The answer is pretty much yes. If you had accidentally spilled tea or coffee on your linens or clothes, it does come out – sometimes with a little bleach or stain remover. If the stain is really set in, usually a soak in Oxyclean will get it out.
With this process of tea dyed fabric, it’s not a simple spill, we are encouraging the fibers to soak in the tea and hold on to the new color. I would consider this method permanent, but if you really, really didn’t like it once it is done, you probably could use a lot of elbow grease to get it out.
How long does it take to dye fabric with tea?
You need some patience! It’s basically a two-day process. Begin in the morning of day one and prepare your tea bath for your fabrics. Add your fabrics or clothes in the afternoon, let them simmer and then soak overnight. On day two, wash out your fabrics and prepare them for your project.
What fabrics can you dye with tea?
It is best to use natural fiber fabrics, like cotton, linen or silk. Polyester, nylon and rayon fabrics or blends will take the tea dye, but generally not as well. Always test a sample of your fabric first.
How to tea dye clothes?
Dyeing clothes with tea is easy, too. Just put the garment in the pot and follow the directions above for how to dye clothes with tea.
Why would you want to tea dye fabric?
Tea has been used as a natural dye for fabrics for centuries. It gives naturally white fabrics a subtle beige color that is similar to natural linen. This method has been used for clothing and linens. Learn how to tea dye fabric to make it look old with these methods.
What’s the best way to test a sample of the fabric before tea dyeing?
Take one tea bag and put in a large coffee cup. Pour boiling water over the tea bag. Add a piece of your fabric, about 4-5″ square. Soak for about 10 minutes, then microwave for about 30 seconds to heat it up again. Don’t let it boil in the microwave. Let it sit for a few hours. Rinse until the water is clear. If the color stays in the fabric, it will when you do your larger piece.
Can I tea dye a finished garment? Draperies? Linens?
Yes! You can tea dye just about anything! For larger items, you just need a large enough pot to hold the tea and whatever it is your are dyeing. Follow the same directions as above.
Can I use other tea blends or flavors to dye fabric?
Yes! I thought of other teas that might make interesting colors and tried Green tea, Hibiscus tea and Red Zinger. The two red tone teas were gorgeous in the water, but after rinsing, faded all away. The green tea never was ‘lovely’ but it was a darker shade until rinsing. These are fine but not too exciting. I think I’ll stick to black tea for dyeing my fabrics with tea. Here are my results:
Check out all of our surface design inspiration on Create Whimsy!