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Homemade Natural Dyes

Make Natural Dyes With Leftover Fruits and Vegetables

When your spinach isn't as fresh as it used to be, use it to make homemade dye instead of tossing it out. That goes for your orange peels, lemon ends, even the first few leaves of that cabbage head (that have been manhandled at the grocery store). Fruits, vegetables, and flowers have been used for years to alter the color of clothing. And making homemade dyes is easy, it's eco-friendly, and it costs basically nothing.

What You'll Need:

  • Beet skins
  • Onion skins
  • Red cabbage leaves
  • Spinach
  • Orange peels
  • Small saucepans

Directions:

  1. Gather leftover bits of fruits and vegetables to use for making the dyes. You'll want at least one chopped cup of each item to create a saturated dye. Blueberries, blackberries, and red cabbage create lovely blues. Raspberries and beets create red shades. Orange and lemon peels make light yellow or ochre dye. Spinach creates a nice green, and onion skins simmer into orange. You can also experiment with other items to see what colors you can create.

  1. Add the chopped ingredient to a small saucepan and cover with twice as much water as the fruit or vegetable. Place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer for one hour.

  1. Turn off the heat, and let water come to room temperature. Strain the cooled dyes into glass containers, and you're ready to get coloring!

  1. To create long-lasting colored fabrics, place the article of clothing you're planning on coloring in a fixative. For fruit dyes, simmer the fabric in 1/4 cup salt and 4 cups water. For vegetable dyes, simmer in one cup vinegar and four cups water. Boil for one hour.
  2. Rinse the article of clothing in cold water, and then let soak in the natural dye until it reaches desired color.


We created purple with the help of red cabbage leaves, green thanks to spinach, a bright red from beet trimmings, a nice orange from onion skins, and a slight yellow from orange peels. Use for creating beautifully dyed fabrics, making homemade face paints, or coloring Easter eggs.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sarah Lipoff
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