How to Dye Fabric With Coffee

by Contributor

How to Dye Fabric With Coffee. Changing its color is the fastest way to make an old piece of clothing new again. Items that were once favorites but that have become old and tired over time find new life and new importance in your wardrobe with a simple shift in color. You can change an item's color simply, easily and cheaply by using something you likely already have in your home. Coffee has made an excellent dye for decades. It works wonders on natural fiber fabrics to darken lighter-colored fabrics or to deepen the color of already tinted items.

Prepare the Coffee Dye

Step 1

Brew a pot of coffee as you normally would.

Step 2

Choose a container that when filled with water will allow your item to float and doesn't require cramming the item into it in order to wet the entire item. The goal is even saturation and even color distribution. Fill the container with water.

Step 3

Mix the coffee into the water.

Test Swatch

Step 1

Conduct a swatch test. With coffee, this is important before dying your intended item so you can get a feel for how quickly the solution you've mixed will darken your fabric. Either cut a small piece of excess fabric from your item, or use a small amount of similar fabric.

Step 2

Wet the fabric swatch with clear water and then submerge it in the coffee dye solution. Keep the fabric moving so that no creases or folds form that will allow excess color to accumulate. Keep checking the swatch for color depth.

Step 3

Remove the item when you're satisfied with the color and rinse it in clear water until the water runs clean.

Step 4

Examine the swatch for color depth and consistency. Remember that the color will be lighter when the fabric is completely dry. Keeping this in mind, use the test swatch to determine if the fabric you want to dye will give you the result you want, and to decide approximately how long you will need to let it soak in order to achieve the right shade.

Dye Your Item

Step 1

Soak your item in clear water so that it is wet through.

Step 2

Shake the item out so that there are no folds or creases that might cause the coffee to absorb unevenly. Then submerge the item in the coffee dye.

Step 3

Pull the item every few minutes to check for color depth, and in between checks keep the item moving to encourage even color saturation.

Step 4

Remove the item from the dye and rinse in clear water until the water runs clean.

Step 5

Wring out the excess water.

Tips

  • Coffee dyeing works best on natural fiber fabrics, such as cotton, muslin and linen.

Warnings

  • Traditionally, fabrics were coffee dyed in the bathtub or sink, but you run the risk of the coffee tinting the finish. For this reason it is best to select a container that you don't mind staining. It only takes a few minutes for fabric fibers to start grabbing color, so check your piece often while it is soaking to make sure you don't get it too dark. Coffee-dyed fabrics hold up better and longer when washed by hand. Beware of commercial detergents because these will often be designed to remove natural "stains." Fabrics dyed with coffee will fade somewhat over time, so plan to repeat the dying process every few years. This will help you keep the soft glow dying with coffee achieves and ensure that your item always looks fresh.