Ciara Boyle

August 1, 2020

From avocado stones to onions: *Mindblowing* DIY natural clothing dye

From avocado stones to onions: *Mindblowing* DIY natural clothing dye

Ciara Boyle

August 1, 2020
YES, YOU READ RIGHT. Today we are indeed showing you how to dye clothing using nothing but avocado stones. Just like Adam & Eve did way back when…

Fashion is the 2nd largest polluter of our waterways globally, a huge part of that pollution comes from clothing dyes. Sometime people forget that denim for example once started as a fluffy white cotton plant, it requires a HUGE amount of dye to turn it blue. Most of the time this is chemical dye and unfortunately, often that waste water isn’t managed correctly. Meaning 1000’s of litres of blue dyed water is being dumped into waterways not only killing the ecosystem but also having detrimental health effects on the surrounding communities that use this water to cook, drink and bath in.

Pretty bleak we know. However, the positive alternative is that there are so many natural dyes that you can use instead. These dyes are better for you, your skin and of course the planet and are SO much fun to do. Here’s a list of our favourite natural dyes.

Powder pink with avocado stones

This one never ceases to blow my mind! The colour it produces I feel could simply not be achieved through chemical means.

Here’s a how-to:

  1. Collect avocado stones over time in a lunch box. Make sure you remove all the flesh so they don’t go nasty. I used 8 avocado stones for this one dress. The more stones, the darker the colour.
  2. Allow the item you want to dye to soak overnight in water and a little detergent. This will ensure even dyeing.
  3. Chop the stones in quarters and place in a large saucepan. Big enough that the item of clothing you’re dyeing will fit into.
  4. Cover the stones with cold water – again enough water that the item will be submerged once placed in. 
  5. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 50minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 2-3 hour.
  7. Again bring to the boil and allow simmer for 40 minutes.
  8. Once it has cooled down a little, remove the stones and place the item of clothing into the pot. 
  9. Place a plate on top to keep the clothing submerged and leave for at least 24 hours.
  10. Drain the dye. Because it’s natural it can even be used to water plants – yippee and rinse the item of clothing until the water runs clear
  11. Air dry and wear with pride
  12. The dye will fade slowly over time with wear and wash. As always try not to wash it too much. We all wash out clothing FAR too much. But if you make sure to hand wash it should last a long time.

Yellow using turmeric

I originally discovered the dyeing properties of turmeric when I accidentally spilled a turmeric shot on a beloved pair of jeans and let me tell you – it lasts! I do  ADORE this dye though- it’s just the most beautiful sunshine yellow in colour. Luckity you don’t even  need fresh turmeric. This recipe used ground turmeric, the kind you can get in TESCO for less that €2 – yippee

  1. Soak the item you want to dye in water and a little salt overnight. This will allow an even dye.
  2. In a large saucepan, boil 2 tablespoons turmeric for every 4 litres of water.
  3. Bring to the boil and allow simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Once it’s cooled, add the item of clothing and leave overnight
  5. Rinse until the water runs clear and airdry 
  6. This dye is SUPER for tie dye. Simply scrunch up the material, wrap elastic bands or rope around it so it’s tied in a bundle and then add the bundle to the pot. 



Orange using onion peels 

If you thought the last two were bizarre then you ain’t seen nothing yet! The skins of onions, possibly the most widely used vegetable are tossed to the side without question BUT they have seriously amazing dying qualities. These skins dye material the most gorgeous vibrant orange – you have to see it to believe it.

  1. Fill your pot with water and about ten onions-worth of onion skins, and bring it to a boil for one hour, until you achieve your desired color. (The longer it boils, the darker the shade will be.) When the water becomes the color you like, strain out the onion skins.
  2. Keep the pot over heat, making sure it’s simmering, 
  3. Wet your garment before adding it to the pot. We recommend soaking overnight.
  4. Once the onion juice has cooled, place in the item of clothing and leave for 24 hours.
  5. Rinse until the water runs clear. Air dry and try not try keep your jaw off the floor because you won’t believe the results!



Blue Using Red Cabbage

Again this one goes a little off piste, you’d imagine that red cabbage would dye clothing red but not, it’s all surprises here. Red cabbage dyes material a gorgeous blue.

  1. Soak the item of clothing in a little salted water overnight. This allows for an even dye.
  2. Chop the red cabbage into small pieces.
  3. place your chopped up cabbage into a saucepan and cover with enough water so that all the cabbage is covered. Again bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for one hour.
  4. Turn off the heat, let sit for 4 hours. Then again bring to the boil and allow it simmer for 50 minutes. 
  5. Strain off the cabbage and once cooled, place the item of clothing into the pot.
  6. Leave soak overnight. Rinse until the water runs clear and airdry.

All of these dyeing techniques are INCREDIBLY satisfying. Honestly. Oh, and if you give them a go be sure to tag us so we can see your masterpiece! Here are some additional resources and blogs that we got a lot of tips and instructions from.