How to Dye Clothes with Coffee

Updated February 21, 2017

Dyeing your clothing in coffee is a natural way to dye clothes. The dye works best with natural fabrics like cotton, wool or linen. Man-made fabrics won't let the dye adhere as well to the garment, if at all. Your garment will have a slightly darker, natural-looking shade of brown, making it look aged. Your garment's shade also will depend on how long you dye your fabric and how strong a coffee mixture you use.

Put a gallon of water and a cup of coffee grounds into a large pot. If you want a darker shade, add more coffee grounds, and if you want a lighter shade, put fewer coffee grounds in the pot.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat off. This will allow the coffee grounds to steep for a bit. Allow the water to cool.

Take the garment you're dyeing and run water over it. You want the garment to be very wet before adding it to the coffee.

Place the garment into the pot of coffee and submerge it. You can either leave the grounds in the pot or strain them from the pot. If you want a darker colour, keep the grounds, and if you want a lighter colour, take them out.

Allow the garment to sit in the pot of coffee for from five minutes to overnight. The longer it stays in the dye, the more colour you will get. Be sure to stir the garment with the wooden spoon occasionally to ensure even dyeing.

Add two tablespoons of alum or vinegar to set the dye into the garment. You also add can soda ash, but follow the directions on the package before adding it to the pot. Let the garment sit in the coffee for 15 more minutes.

Remove the garment and rinse it thoroughly. Let the it dry.

Wash the garment by itself the first time to make sure the dye has set. This will also prevent other pieces of clothing from getting extra dye on them.


Only use fabrics that have never been worn to ensure that the dye will be even.


If you want to shrink the fabric, place the garment into the water when it's hot. But, be careful not to burn yourself. It still is hot water.

Things You'll Need

  • Piece of clothing
  • Water
  • Wooden spoon
  • Coffee grounds
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large pot
  • Stove
  • Alum
  • Soda ash
  • Vinegar
  • Washing machine
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About the Author

Christina Martinez has been writing professionally since 2007. She's been published in the California State University at Fullerton newspaper, "The Daily Titan." Her writing has also appeared in "Orange County's Best" magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and print journalism from California State University.