How to Dye Fabric With Tea Bags

If you want to dye cotton fabric naturally, use tea bags. Dyeing fabric with tea gives it a new appearance, especially if the item has become old and faded. Tea-dyed fabric appears light and colour-washed instead of opaque like commercially dyed fabric. The natural dye also gives fabric a vintage look and will mask stains, so you don't have to throw away such items as tablecloths, pillowcases and sheets due to their unpleasant appearance.

Place four cups of water for each yard of fabric in a large pot. Put the pot on the hob over medium-high heat.

Boil the water. Add two tea bags per 236ml. of water in the pot. As 227gr. equals one cup, you will need eight tea bags for every four cups of water.

Steep the tea for five minutes. Allow the water to turn a dark brown colour. Squeeze each of the tea bags carefully to release excess liquid.

Pour the tea into a bucket. Place the fabric into the bucket of tea and move it around three or four times to make sure all of the fabric becomes saturated. If you are not sure how the fabric will take the tea dye, first place a small portion of the fabric in the tea to test it.

Examine the fabric. Once it reaches the desired colour, remove it from the bucket. Rinse out the fabric. If it does not appear dark enough, allow it to soak longer. The fabric will appear lighter after it dries. If you want a dark tan colour, you may need to soak the fabric overnight.

Place the dyed fabric in the dryer on a high heat setting. Tumble-dry the item to make the colour set.

Remove the dye if you do not like it by rinsing the fabric in the washer with a capful of bleach.


You cannot dye synthetic fabrics with tea bags.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Water
  • Tea bags
  • Cotton fabric
  • Bucket
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About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.