Dye your clothes with food

Dye your clothes with food

Make bright clothes with fruit and veg

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Did you know you can make brightly coloured clothes using fruit and veg?

Here's how!

What you need:

  • White t-shirt
  • Clean, dry saucepan - make sure it's OK for you to dye clothes in it. Don't use the best saucepan!
  • Water
  • Oven
  • Salt and white vinegar

You will also need some fruit and veg. The food you use depends on what colour you want your t-shirt to be.

  • Blackberries - purple
  • Raspberries / strawberries - red/pink
  • Blueberries - blue
  • Onion skin - yellow/brown
  • Spinach - green
  • Turmeric - yellow/orange
  • Beetroot - red/pink
  • Savoy cabbage - green
  • Red cabbage - red/pink

How to:

Ask a parent for help boiling the water.

1. If you're using fruit to dye your clothes, add 1l water and 250ml vinegar to a saucepan.

If you're using vegetables to dye your clothes, add 2l water and 65g salt to a large saucepan.

2. Add the t-shirt to the saucepan. Put the saucepan on the hob and simmer the mixture gently for one hour.

3. Remove the t-shirt from the saucepan and squeeze excess water from it. Rinse the t-shirt in cold water.

4. Put 350g of your fruit or veg in a saucepan. Add 1l water. Bring to the boil.

5. Add your t-shirt and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Take the saucepan off the hob. If you want a darker colour, leave your t-shirt to soak in the dye overnight.

6. Wring out any excess water, then rinse your t-shirt in cold water. Leave to dry.

Your t-shirt is now ready to wear!

What's happening?

Fruit and vegetables are coloured due to chemicals called polyphenols. Polyphenols attach to the fabric of your t-shirt and dye it. They are the same chemicals that stain your clothes if you spill your food!

Salt and vinegar are help to attach the polyphenols to the fabric. Otherwise, the dye would fade each time you wash the fabric.

Experiment with different foods to get a different coloured t-shirts. How about using t-shirts made of different materials? What difference does that make to the colour?

Curriculum information

  • Summary


    Curriculum key wordsOther web links
    • 5
    Science Curriculum Links
    National CurriculumCurriculum for excellenceNorthern Ireland Curriculum