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50 Eco-Friendly and Biodegradable Fabric Dye Alternatives

Just wearing clothes made from natural fibers is not enough. If you really want to escape from fast fashion ruining nature, you have to be careful in the dyeing process too.

Natural Dyeing is the process of using natural materials to generate a range of colors for fabric. We are going to provide you with the ideas to use these natural dyes and some raw materials to prepare some.

How to prepare and use natural dyes?

The natural dyeing process is much simpler. Follow these steps to generate beautiful colors for your clothes:

Step 1: Collect materials to prepare a Dye

There is no dyeing without a dye. So you have to make one. Find a dye material that can produce the color of your requirement. It can be plant materials or some animal products that might also be useful. You will also require Jars, utensils to heat or cook, Any heat source, and Fabric scraps.

Step 2: Make a Dye

Are you in a hurry to make a dye? Let’s go for the quicker method first. Cut your raw material into small pieces. Pour cold water into your saucepan along with your chopped ingredients. Simmer water for an hour at medium heat. Allow it to cool down to normal temperature.

If you don’t want to expense your resources, let the sun be your assistant. In a jar, add your raw material and cold water. Place it in a safe place where it will get solar heat. Within 24 hours, you will start to see some color shades that you will require.

Use fabric scraps to filter the mixture in both cases. Your extraction process is complete.

(As suggested by Skillshare Liz Spencer)

Step 3: Prepare the fabric

You need to have a clean piece of fabric for dyeing. Wash your fabric based on guidelines. If you are looking to dye protein fibers like cashmere, follow the how-to-wash cashmere guide.

Once the fabric is clean, you should use fixative or mordant. Mordant helps you set the clothes to dye. You can use natural mordants like salt and vinegar.

To increase color fastness, you can pretreat the fabric with soy milk and dry it. The process is carried out 3 times and wait for a week before applying color dye.

Step 4: Dye bath the fabric

Get your natural dyeing agent and cloth ready. For trail, use a sample cloth for dye bath. Soak the wet fabric in the dye solution. If you use powdered pigments like turmeric, take a pot with water and put powder on it. Let the solution simmer for an hour in a low heat. For a dark color, leave the cloth overnight. For lighter color, you can take it out immediately after cooling.

Step 5: Change the shade

Here comes some chemistry now! Sometimes the color right is but the shade is something you don’t prefer to use. In that case, you can use an alkaline or acidic agent to change the pH value of the dye. As the stability of the pH value changes, you can notice changes in the color. Vinegar, Baking soda, Lemon juice, and Citrus fruits are some agents you can use.

Step 6: Washing and Drying

Your damp fabric might have extra dye that needs to be removed. Wash your dye gently with lukewarm water and dish soap. Use baby shampoo if you are washing cashmere garments. Clean it with running cold water. Repeat the process till all the excess dyes are removed. Hang the washed garment to dry. Your clothes are naturally dyed.

List of Natural Dyes for Fabrics at Home

This is the list of natural dye materials that you can prepare at home. The list is arranged based on the natural color it can generate. 

1. Red Natural Dyes for Fabric

BrazilwoodCaesalpinia EchinataStandard Red
CoreopsisCoreopsis NaturalisShades of Red
QuebrachoSchinopsis LorentziiDeep brick red
SumacRhus CoriariaPinkish Red

2. Blue Natural Dyes for Fabric

IndigoIndigofera suffruticosaBlue
Red cabbage leavesBrassica OleraceaPastel blue

3. Brown Shades for fabric

WalnutJuglans RegiaModerate Brown
OakQuercus RoburShades of Brown
Black teaCamelia sinensisDeep brown
CoffeeCoffea ArabicaEarthly Brown
Fern StemDryopteris FilixLight Brown
EucalyptusEucalyptus naturalisGolden Brown
BlackthornPrunus SpinosaDark Brown
Black beansPhaseolus VulgarisDark Brown
Black walnutsJuglans NigraBlack Brown

4. Yellow Natural Dyes for Fabric

St John’s WortHypericum perforatumLight to Medium Yellow
PomegranatePunica granatumBright Yellow
FusticwoodClorophora TinctoriumRich Golden Yellow
Celery leavesApium GravelonsSoft Yellow
Dyer’s ChamomileMatricaria ChamomillaPale Yellow
DaffodilNarcissus naturalisBright Yellow
WeldReseda naturalisBright Golden Yellow
ElderSambucus naturalisLight Yellow
GorseUlex naturalisGolden Yellow
DandelionTaraxacum OfficinaleLight Yellow
Avocado leavesPersea americanaDeep Yellow
GoldenrodSolidago NaturalisGolden Yellow
HennaLawsonia naturalisTanish Yellow and Orange
Avocado skins and pitsPersea americanaGolden Yellow (Pinkish)
Ground TurmericCurcuma LongaGolden Yellow
Annato seedsBixa OrellanaOrange

5. Green Natural Dyes for Fabric

Yerba MateIlex paraguarensisBright Green
MintMenthaLight Green
Nettles Urtica dioicaShining Green
Thyme Thymus VulgarisPale Green

6. Purple Natural Dyes for Fabric

LavenderLavendula LatifoliaLight Lilac to Deep Violet
RosemarySalvia RosamarinusGreenish-purple 
ElderberriesSambucus NigraLight Lavender to Deep Purple

Natural Dyes for multiple ranges of shades

Some natural ingredients can produce various rainbow of colors. The variation might be due to parts of specific plants and ways of extracting the natural dye.

1. Orange and Red natural dyes for fabrics

Chestnut oakQuercus CastaneifoliaOrange and Red
MadderRubia TinctoriumDeep Red and Orange
SappanwoodCaesalpinia sappanRed and Orange

2. Purple and Red natural dyes for fabrics

BirchBetula PendulaPurple and Red
LogwoodHaematoxylum CampechianumRed and Purple
LacTectona NaturalisBurgundy Red and Deep Purple
BlackberryRubus FruticosusPurple, Brown, and Reds

3. Pink and Red natural dyes for fabrics

CochinealDactylopius coccusRed and Bright Pink
HibiscusHibiscus rosa sinensisPink and Red
BeetrootsBeta VulgarisPink and Red

4. Yellow and Orange natural dyes for fabrics

SafflowerCarthamus tinctoriusOrange and Yellow
MarigoldTagetesYellow and Orange
SageMaclura TinctoriaBright Yellow and Orange
CalendulaCalendula OfficinalisOrange and Yellow

5. Pink and Purple natural dyes for fabrics

Alkanet Anchusa TinctoriaPink and Purple
DahliaDahila PinnataPink and Purple
Oak gallsQuercus InfectoriaBrown and Deep Purple

6. Yellow and Brown Natural dyes for fabrics

Onion skinsAllium cepaBright yellow and brown
CutchAcacia catechuYellow and dark brown
IvyHedera helixYellow and intense brown
WoadIsatis tinctoriaGreen, Brown, and Purple
NettleUrtica naturalisYellow and Green


Natural Dye colors are the game changer in the textile industry. These dyes are functional as well as ethical alternatives. Our cashmere scarves are dyed using organic raw materials. Colorful Cashmere has chosen a sustainable fabric and organic dye combo. Your wrap will not only be an advocate of your style but of your conscious choice too. Get handmade sustainable wraps and be part of the change!