• This cool DIY project makes pink dye for fabrics

    Quick Notes

    • Using natural dyes is better for you and eco-friendly

    • You can dye any natural fabric to a pretty pink with avocado pits

    • If you eat lots of guacamole, you can dye yourself a tee shirt

    Did you know you can use avocado pits to dye your clothes pink? I didn’t either! I’m not sure how it was discovered, though. Why would one boil avocado pits to see what color it makes? Regardless of how it happened, it really is pretty cool and easy to do.

    Over the last decade or so, there’s been a push to use more natural, eco-conscious products. Instead of using those nasty chemical dyes on your clothes, look in your compost pile! I’m being facetious, of course, but I do wonder how discoveries like these come about.

    So, what’s inside those avocado pits? The seed is actually encased in the hard outer shell. The seed itself contains tannins, which are naturally-occurring compounds found in grapes, tree bark, cranberries, and tea leaves. When the pit is boiled, it releases a gorgeous, dusty rose color that is absorbed by the fabric.

    Here’s how it works

    Natural dyes have been used for centuries, but after the Industrial Revolution, companies found it easier and cheaper to use chemical dyes. Natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool work best. Other fabrics may work, but the color won’t be as deep. So start saving those pits, and let’s make some avocado pit dye!

    Gather the fabric that you intend to dye. You can do tee shirts, pillowcases, or wool mittens – just about any natural fabric will work. You’ll first need a large pot for boiling, preferably one that you’ll only use for your avocado pit dyeing projects.

    lillaby/Pixabay

    Fill the pot with enough water to cover the pits and the fabric. Take about 10 pits and scrub them thoroughly. You want all of the green flesh off of them. Ten pits will dye around two tee shirts. You can use that as a size-guide if you’re dyeing something else. Add only the pits to the water, turn up the heat and watch the magic.

    Within 30 to 60 minutes, you should see the color. Just before boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. Don’t boil the pits too hard, or the dye may turn brown. Give the pot a stir every 10 minutes or so. Simmer for an hour or two until you see the color you like.

    Remove the pot from heat. For the most color, let the dye bath steep overnight. When you’re ready to start dyeing, remove the pits from the pot. Then drain out anything undesirable floating in the water as it could turn the dye an icky brown.

    Here’s the fun part

    Wet the fabric you want to dye with a little water and wring it out. You can then add the fabric to the dye. Bring the dye bath back to a simmer. Stir the fabric around to get it covered evenly. Heat for approximately 30 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.

    Leave the fabric in the bath until it reaches your desired color. Of course, the longer it sits, the darker it will be. Around four hours is what most recipes call for. Be aware that when you rinse the fabric out, it will be one or two shades lighter than in the pot.

    Take the fabric out and hand wash with a mild soap. Rinse it out and let it air dry. The dye permanently bonds to the fabric. However, you should hand wash the items just to keep the color beautiful.

    “Turn up the heat and watch the magic. Within 30 to 60 minutes, you should see the color.”

    The dye colors from this process will vary due to several factors, such as where the fruit was grown and the climate. Different tap waters can also produce different outcomes. High iron levels in the water can muddy the results a bit, but that’s the fun of it! You never know what true color you’ll get.

    It takes patience and time to get the deep, rich pink you’re striving for, but this writer thinks it’s worth it! So get your guac’ on, and let’s make a tie-dye shirt!

    A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101: