Dyeing Clothes: Is There An Eco-Friendly Way?

Beauty & Style 3

green guide

natural dye on clothes

Photo from The Craft of Natural Dyeing

I'm a big fan of dyeing my clothes instead of getting rid of them. I've been know to purchase clothes in a color that just doesn't look good on me, only to have it sit in my closet. Hey, I liked it in the store!

Solution? Dye it to a color I would actually wear.

But what's the best and most eco-friendly dye to use?

There isn't a simple answer.

If you want to dye with natural ingredients, you can use onion skins for a yellowish-brown, blueberries for purple, cranberries for a berry red, and coffee or tea bags for a brown. Boil these mashed or seeped items in a pot on the stove, then add in the item to be dyed. Kool Aid has been known to also be a favorite.

But the problem here is that the color is light and doesn't stay on very long. So what about dyes you can buy in a store?

Some all-purpose dyes aren't good for the environment and some of those loose powder dyes certainly aren't good to breathe in. So I looked into natural dyes and found some from Dharma Trading. But they also say that just because it's a natural dye, doesn't mean it's entirely eco-friendly. It contains a mordant, which is either acidic or alkaline based. This is what helps set the dye and make the color saturate.

I'm very intrigued by the book, The Craft of Natural Dyeing by Jenny Dean. I'm wondering if it's worth the read to find out more.

The company Bamboosa has an informative section where they talk about The Dye Debate. They use the lowest impact fiber reactive dyes. This is a chemical dye that is said to be non-toxic. It stays on clothes the best, causing the least amount of dye added to the water system when washed.

What about you? Do you dye your clothes?

Do you know about eco-friendly clothing dyes?



clothes, diy, going green, green guide, style


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Fista... Fistandantalus

Procion Fiber Reactive dye, available from Dharma, is very eco-friendly.  The mordant for cotton and rayon is soda ash fixer, which is a couple of oxygen molecules away from being OxyClean.  For silk, the mordant is plain old vinegar.  While one should always avoid breathing in powdered dye, Procion Fiber Reactive dye is safe to put down the drain.  Fiber Reactive dye actually becomes part of the fiber, so once fixed, it will not come out at all.  If you want a ton of information on dyes and dyeing methods, Michele, PM me.  I've been doing all kinds of dyeing for over 10 years now.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Thanks! This is important info!

nonmember avatar India Flint

actually procion dyes are far from eco-friendly and are carcinogenic in their powdered form. the mordant for silk [in relation to procions] was traditionally sodium carbonate, quite different to vinegar! stick with plants and don't add chemicals is my advice. just make sure you know the name of the plant so that you're aware if it's protected or poisonous. i usually use windfall leaves for my dyebaths.
best wishes

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