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How to dye textiles with Turmeric

Updated on April 28, 2013
Turmeric tie-dye
Turmeric tie-dye
3.1 stars from 7 ratings of Turmeric Tie-dye

If you have some old white or bright clothes that have stains that cannot be removed anymore or which simply need a new life you might want to consider dyeing them. And what could be more fun than using a simple, fully organic ingredient right out of your kitchen closet to do so? Turmeric is a wonderful natural dye, which doesn’t need a fixative and will hold the color for a remarkable amount of time. It can give white textiles a warm yellow to a dark mustard hue depending on the time you dye them. The process is easy and fast and I will explain it to you in an easy step-by-step guide below.

And if you aren’t acquainted with Turmeric, yet – it is high time to consider adding it to your daily routine, the health benefits are staggering! You can read more about that here.

Time required

Prep time: 2 hours 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
Yields: 1 - 2 pieces of dyed cloth
Need a new life? Turmeric is all you need!
Need a new life? Turmeric is all you need! | Source

What you will need

  • 4-5 tbsp Turmeric powder, (about 300g or less)
  • 1 big pot
  • 1 big cooking spoon, dark plastic or steel
  • string, if you want to tie-dye
  • gloves, if you are picky about yellow hands
  • 1 piece of textile/old garment


I picked an old white cotton skirt that had a few brownish stains that just wouldn’t come off anymore. Of course yellow is a rather light color, so make sure the stains are not too dark if you hope to cover them up with Turmeric! To be able to dye your old cloth or textile you should make sure that it is a natural fiber such as cotton, linen or silk – polyester materials can’t be properly dyed!

Make sure your pot is big enough for your material
Make sure your pot is big enough for your material

Step 1: Put a large pot with a fair amount of water on the stove and add 4-5 full table spoons of Turmeric to it. Bring it to boil and then let it cook on a low flame for 20-30 minutes.

Tie it up - if you like the hippie-hippie shake!
Tie it up - if you like the hippie-hippie shake!

If you need some help with the tie;)

Step 2: Now that your Turmeric-water mix is simmering, soak your textile in cold water to enable the dye to set in properly. Then you can add tie-dye designs to your material, if you like. Take a thin string and tie it tightly around small patches (for circles) or around the complete dress (for lines). Of course you have unlimited options what to do with tie-dye designs, these are just two simple examples I used for my skirt here. You also can just leave the textile untied which will result in a plain yellow. If you are planning to do an elaborate design with hundreds of little circles, then better tie your dress up before you put your Turmeric to boil, otherwise it is a good way to utilize the waiting time.

Step 3: When your dye is ready, your cloth soaked and tied up, you are ready for the main dyeing process! Simply add your material into the pot and make sure it is covered all-over with the dye. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then turn the heat off and just let the color set. The skirt in my example was dyed for about 80 minutes, but you can just vary the time for a lighter or darker result. Since my skirt was a tie-dye project I didn’t bother how evenly the color would set, as irregularities can enhance the look. But especially if you want to dye a piece in plain yellow it is advisable to stir your material about every 10 or 15 minutes to give you an even hue all over. For stirring the material I recommend that you use either a black plastic or a metal spoon as a wooden spoon would be colored forever!

Dunk it and make sure it gets completely covered with the dye
Dunk it and make sure it gets completely covered with the dye
Rinse well - even if you think it takes forever!
Rinse well - even if you think it takes forever!

Step 4: After the desired time remove your textile and rinse it until it doesn’t run color anymore. That will easily take you 10 minutes, but don’t give up, it eventually will stop turning the water yellow (or I would say, nearly). Of course it is a bit difficult to judge in advance how dark your piece has become, take my example for being on the darker side, probably it won’t get much more saturated than this. And don’t worry when your cloth at first looks very dark or mustard colored, once it is dry it will be a much lighter shade. If you really want it dark, leave it as long as you have the patience. Be careful while rinsing your cloth as it easily will turn your hands mildly yellow – if you don’t want this better wear gloves. If your hands have turned yellow, don’t worry too much about it - latest the next day the hue will go.

Step 5: Open your strings and see how your design has turned out – I think that is easily the most fun part of the whole process! And if you don’t like it, you can easily opt for the plain yellow version and dye the cloth again.

Nothing is more fun than seeing how your designs turned out!
Nothing is more fun than seeing how your designs turned out!

Step 6: Hang your material to dry, wait how it becomes lighter and brighter and then enjoy your new summery wardrobe!

Enjoy your new stylish summer look!
Enjoy your new stylish summer look!

Note: You can machine wash your Turmeric tie-dyed clothes, but you should use a program for delicates/handwash and make sure you only wash it with darker clothes that do not stain themselves. I personal recommend to at least wash the first few times by hand. The gentler you wash your tie-dye the longer the colors will last!

How did you like your Turmeric tie-dye experiment?

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    • Wasteless Project profile image

      Wasteless Project 3 years ago from Worldwide

      Thank you Chrytalia - wish you happy dyeing! :)

    • profile image

      Eva 3 years ago from Tucson

      Found this,liked it, pinned it on my Pintrest, and am planning to try turmeric dye on some other projects--like staining my gourds! A really cool hub :-).

    • Wasteless Project profile image

      Wasteless Project 4 years ago from Worldwide

      Thank you all for your appreciation and sweet comments! And RTalloni, I haven't tried it yet on other colored clothes, but when I will, I will share with you :)

    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 4 years ago from United States

      How amazing that you can take an edible substance and use it to dye clothing! Great idea.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Yes, very cool! Have you tried using this dye on colored fabrics to see what other colors develop? I'm thinking a chambray shirt for fall...

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Seriously cool project. Will definitely be trying this sometime.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Wow, I thought of turmeric as a spice and food dye, but it's really amazing that it can be also used as a textile dye. I love the sunny yellow of the dress. Up and useful, awesome.

    • Wasteless Project profile image

      Wasteless Project 4 years ago from Worldwide

      Thank you moonlake, I am happy you liked it:)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Very interesting. I love the yellow so pretty. Great instructions. Voted up.