How to make natural dye from foods scraps

Hi Creative Mamas! Welcome to another article about natural dyeing using natural materials in a fun way.

In this post I will be covering how to make natural dye from foods that you probably have around the house.

Making use of leftover foods such as avocado skins, avocado pits and onion skins is a great way to get started in natural dyeing.

Using tea dye as well as mate dye is also a great option for homemade dyes. So let’s go through each of these foods (onion and avos are considered kitchen scraps) and discover how you can extract beautiful natural color using natural ingredients!

fabric and yarn naturally dyes using onion skins, avocado dye and mate tea and black tea dye.

Dye color from natural food dyes

In this post I will cover the following dye foods:

  • Avocados
  • Yellow onion skins
  • Black tea
  • Mate
  • Coffee
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red Cabbage

Natural Dyeing process

For best results you will always need to go through a 8 step process. I teach this process as part of La Creative Mama Natural Dyeing Method and you can read about it in detail in the ultimate natural dyeing guide for beginners in which I describe how to go through each step in the process.

This post is an overview of what you can achieve with these food dyes. Please note that all natural dyes will only work when you use natural fabric or yarn.


Complete the form below to download the FREE list of the best 40 dyes to use in natural dyeing! Save time and frustration!

Avocado skins & avocado pits dye

Avocados are a great natural source of color. It’s super easy to extract the natural dye from the avocados but there are a few simple things to consider in terms of the different color that you can get.

Avocado skins will provide you with a blush color. Check out the best tips for avocado dyeing here.

the color that results from using avocado skin dye

Avocado pits will deliver a beautiful pink color. Mixing avocado skins and pits will result in a deep rich pink tone.

the color that results from using avocado pit dye

The photo below shows the range of color that you can get from the humble avocado depending on which method of dyeing you use 🙂

Check out the full tutorial on how to dye with avocado dye here.

naturally dyed fabric using avocado skins and pits

Yellow onion skins dye

Yellow onion skins is a great natural yellow dye. You can also have a go at purple onions but I have gotten the best results from the yellow variety.

The photo below shows the results of using onion skins in a bundle dyed silk scarf. Check out bundle dyeing method here.

bundle dyes silk scraf using iron water and onion skin dye

These fabrics are samples of wool and silks which are protein fibers dyed using onion skins in a hot dye bath. Check out the full tutorial of how to dye using onion skins here.

a piece of silk and wool fabric dyed with yellow onion skins

Black tea dye

Using tea dye is super easy because black tea doesn’t require for you to mordant the fabric or yarn previously.

This is because black tea is high in tannin which creates a good bonding with natural fibers such as cellulose fibers (cotton and linen) and protein fibers (silk and wool).

The photo below shows the results of a tea dyed cotton fabric. Check out the full tutorial on how to tea dye here.

dye fabric with tea

You can also create a vintage look on fabric, lace and trims by using tea dye. The photo below shows old napkins which have been dyed using a tea dye bath in order to cover old stains and create an antique fabric look.

You can see the full tutorial on creating a vintage look using tea here.

napkins dyed using tea dye

Tea is also a great way to dye paper. Here are some examples of eco printed paper which was dyed using black tea to create interesting scrapbooking pages.

Check out how to dye paper with tea here.

paper dyed with tea and eco printed as well

Mate dye

Mate is a wonderful dye that I was encouraged to start using by my fellow Argentinean dyers. Mate is a common drink for us in Argentina and it delivers a lovely variety of yellows and greens.

mate dyes fabric and wool yarn

I have had a lot of success with creating a lovely green on silks and wools but not too successful when using mate on cotton and linens.

You can read a full step by step tutorial on how to dye fabric and yarn using mate dye here.

Coffee dye

Coffee is another great dye to use. I like using it with the solar dyeing method. The photo below shows the results from leftover yarn which was dyed in the sun using glass jars for 2 weeks.

The yarn at the front is marigold and the one at the back is the coffee dyed one.

yarn dyed in coffee dye

Read the full tutorial on how to dye using solar dyeing method here.

solar dyeing tutorial image

Turmeric powder

Turmeric dye is fugitive which means that it will fade away over time. Because of this reason, I only use turmeric powder as an enhancer in combination with other natural dyes.

The photo below shows the color obtained by combining madder root with turmeric on silk and wool.

fabric and yarn dyed with madder root and turmeric powder

I like using turmeric powder in this way because its bright and it enhances the oranges from the madder dye.

Red cabbage

I don’t recommend that you use red cabbage. Unfortunately its a very popular option amongst first time dyers but it always results in a very pale color that ends up fading away.

It delivers a light purple dye. It’s a fun food dye to experiment with but its no good for lasting color on fabric or yarn.


Please remember that’s its very important to go through the scouring and the mordant bath processes.

Avoid aluminum pots because it will affect the dye color. For best results use a stainless steel stock pot and let the wet fabric soak in a plastic bucket in between processes.

You will have so much fun creating your own natural dyes to make your desired color. Please reach out with any doubts that you may have!

Remember that all of these dyes can be used to dye different types of natural fibers. My favorites are wool yarn and silk.


Complete the form below to download the FREE list of the best 40 dyes to use in natural dyeing! Save time and frustration!

Leave a Comment