Clothing stains are unavoidable. Let's face it, kids are basically barf and poop machines. Often a high quality garment has years and years of wear left in it, but are just a little too stained. If you're like me, and are trying make steps to lowering your environmental impact, natural dyeing any old pale coloured clothing is a great way reuse something that would otherwise get tossed.
I put together this quick tutorial for anyone who is interested in giving their stained kids' clothes a second life, using something that would normally go in the compost! This is the no-frills, quick and easy version. No mordants, pre-washing with ph balanced soap, etc. Dyeing can seem overwhelming if you've never done it, but this is pretty much fail proof.
What you'll need:
- stained light-coloured clothing made from natural fibres (cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo)
- a few avocado skins and pits (clean out as much of the fruit as possible)
- cheesecloth for straining
Natural dyeing unfortunately won't work on synthetics, which I recommend not buying in the first place. These fabrics are basically plastic and take forever to decompose. They're also less breathable and not great for kids, who usually have more sensitive skin than adults. I'm totally guilty of falling in love with a fabric because it has a great print but is partially synthetic, but I'm trying super hard to avoid these fabrics in the future.
1. Avocado pits / skins (I had about 3-4 and I kept them in the freezer until I was ready to dye)
2. Put avocados in big pot. Add a bunch of water. Yes, I'm very scientific. The pot has to be big enough so that when you add the clothes there is still some extra room. Boil for 1 hour or longer. (The longer you boil the richer the colour will get!) Once the water boils you want to lower the temperature a bit so it's still boiling but not extreme bubbly boiling. (The higher the heat the more brown the pink colour will become) Maybe this is really dangerous, but I just let the avocado water boil while I was working in the other room. I let it boil for two hours. As always, use caution and if you're the type to forget about a pot boiling maybe don't leave the room.
Isn't it cool how these pits give off such a nice pink color?!
3. In the meantime, soak the clothes you want to dye in water. This will help avoid blotchiness. Basically you never want to put a dry garment in your dye bath!
4. Strain the dye through the cheesecloth to get all the bits out. The bits will stain!
5. Add your clothes to the dye bath and leave in there for a minimum of 10 minutes. You can take it out once it has reached the desired shade. Some people say you should simmer, some people say you can soak it without simmering. Just do whatever you want because the difference is negligible IMHO.
I dyed a cream coloured sweatshirts and I overdyed a pair of the organic cotton tiger leggings that had a small fabric flaw! This pot didn't have enough water/dye so I had to keep turning. I'll know to make more next time!
I machine washed and dried my dyed pieces and am happy to report that the beautiful pink colour stayed 🙌.
Well, hope you found that useful! Now start collecting your avocado scraps and happy dyeing!