Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning to give you a kick start for the day is an important step in most of our routines, but did you know that you could use coffee to dye your clothing black as well?
Black clothing, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, does fade over time. You can use special detergents to stop black clothing from losing its color, but sometimes you need something to bring the black back into faded clothing.
One way you can do this is by using coffee!
How do you dye clothes black with coffee? You can dye clothes black with coffee by steeping your clothes in coffee grounds and hot water for at least 30 minutes, adding coffee to clothes in a washing machine, or by creating a paste with coffee grounds to cover the clothing. You must set the dye with a vinegar or soda ash solution after.
Dying clothes black with coffee is cost-effective and really easy to do. There are a few different ways to dye, but the best way is to brew a big batch of coffee and allow your black clothes to steep in the brew before washing it gently.
Keep your black clothes as black as can be by using coffee to dye them when they begin to fade. Here is exactly how to do so!
Dyeing Clothes Black With Coffee, Step By Step
Hand dyeing is always fun, but not everyone is eager to use commercial dyes at home to dye a couple of items black.
If you are looking to keep things more natural – or simply more cost effective – you can dye clothes darker using something you already have at home: coffee!
Dying clothes black with coffee is as simple as can be. You just need a few items that you most probably already have in your home, and you then need to follow the below step by step guide to get your clothes back to black.
Step 1 – Brew Coffee
How much coffee you brew will depend on how many items of clothing you will be dying, and on how dark you want those items to be.
You will need to brew a large amount of coffee. Using a single-serving French press or pour-over might not be the best option, as it could take too long to make up a decent amount of coffee.
Try to make a strong brew, as this will help to give the clothes a darker dye. A weak brew might not bring out enough black in the clothing. And yes, you must brew the coffee yourself; purchasing coffee won’t work!
It is best to make a big pot of cold brew or instant coffee – both will work well to dye clothes, so use whichever is easiest for you at home.
Dying clothes black is a great way to use coffee beans that have been sitting in the cupboard for too long and which have maybe lost their flavor!
Step 2 – Boil The Coffee
Once you have brewed enough coffee, place it into a large stew pot on the stove. Turn the stove on to medium heat and allow the coffee to come to a boil.
When the coffee begins to boil, switch the stove off and place a lid on the pot and leave it to sit. Do not take the coffee off the burner, as it still needs to keep as hot as possible.
Step 3 – Steep The Clothing
Take the clothing you want to dye and place it in the large pot of hot coffee. All of the clothing needs to be fully submerged unless of course you only want certain places dyed.
Use a spoon to stir the clothing in the pot to ensure that there are no air pockets stuck between the folds and that all areas of the clothes will be exposed to the coffee to soak.
Now you will need to leave the clothes to sit in the coffee. The longer you leave the clothes to steep, the fuller the color will be once they are done.
Check after 30 minutes to see if the clothing is dark enough. If not, you can reheat the coffee and place the clothing back for as long as another hour.
Remember: Your clothes will look darker when wet! It would be prudent to let clothes sit a little longer to ensure they will truly be black. If you use this process to get lighter colors, you should expect to wait until your clothes look at least a shade or two darker than your desired final shade.
Step 4 – Set The Clothing
Do not remove the items of clothing from the pot of coffee yet.
If you are dyeing animal fibers (like wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk) or fibers like nylon: Add in 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the pot of coffee, and mix it in well. Leave the clothes to soak in the vinegar coffee mix for another 20 minutes.
If you are dyeing plant fibers (such as cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp) or similar fibers: Add 2 tablespoons of soda ash to your coffee pot and mix well. Leave the clothes to sit for at least 20 minutes.
Tip: Push the clothes to the side of the pot and try to add the soda ash or vinegar onto just water, not directly on top of the clothes. Stir the clothes and coffee solution around immediately, ensuring all parts of the clothes have contact with the new solution as quickly as possible. This will help to ensure an even dye.
Alternative Step 4
You can try setting the dye without using vinegar or soda ash, but know that the color may not last or set as well. The coffee will not be colorfast, and there is a chance that it will fade over time. To help slow down the fading of the clothing, you need to wash it gently.
Place the dyed items of clothing in a cold water wash with a gentle detergent. If you have gentle soap for washing hand knitted items or something similar, this will work well, too. Do not place any light colored clothing in the wash as the coffee could end up staining them.
The gentle detergent and cold wash can help to set the coffee dye in the clothes and keep them as dark as possible.
We also recommend following the setting process detailed below for best color-staying results!
Step 5 – Rinse
Once the clothing has been left to sit in the vinegar and coffee for 20 minutes, remove it and wring the clothing out. Rinse the items under cold water until the coffee is washed out.
You can either rinse the clothing in a big basin or place it under running water in a large kitchen sink or bathtub until the water runs clear.
Step 6 – Dry the Clothing
Let the material dry. Hang it on a rack or line and leave it to air dry. You can also place the clothing into a pillowcase or cloth sack and place it in the dryer on the hottest setting. This might also help to set the color more as well.
Once the clothes have dried fully, use a hot iron to iron the clothing. This is the final step to ensure that the color sets and stays darker for longer.
Step 7 – Wash Up
Empty out the coffee from the pot, discarding of it down the drain or however you prefer. (You probably don’t want to drink it though!)
Make sure to not let it sit for too long as the coffee could end up staining the pot. Pour out the coffee and give the pot a good scrub to clean it and remove the coffee odor.
Tips For Dyeing Clothes With Coffee
Dying clothes with coffee is fairly simple, and if it doesn’t work the first time, it is easy enough to try the process again. Here are some tips to help you get the best color on your clothes using coffee:
- The darker the brew of coffee you make, the darker the dye on the clothing will be. You can add more coffee to the pot to make it stronger and the color richer. You can and should opt for a darker roast of coffee as well if you want your clothes to be black.
- Use coffee to help bring a dark black shade back to faded black clothing. Bringing something less darkly colored to a dark brown or black color with coffee is possible, but difficult. You may have to repeat the dyeing process several times.
- You can use coffee to dye white or light pieces of fabric as well. The color will probably not be black, but a brown or tan. This will also depend on the strength of the brew you use.
- Coffee is not colorfast on clothing, you will need to set the color after dyeing to ensure the color stays for as long as possible. Adding vinegar or soda ash (depending on the material you’re dyeing) to the coffee near the end can help set the color. You can also pre-soak clothes in a vinegar or soda ash solution before dyeing.
- To dry dyed clothing, place them in a pillowcase and put them in the dryer on the highest setting, to further help set the color.
- The clothing will not have an overwhelming coffee smell once washed. You can use a gentle detergent (after you have set the dye) to mask the scent of coffee. As you wear and wash it with time, any lingering scents will fade.
- Be careful the first couple of times you are washing your dyed clothing! The color should stay pretty well, but sometimes a little extra dye/coffee is still in the clothes. Test your clothes before washing them with other items by running a corner of the fabric under warm water in the sink. If the water is clear, it should be fine with other clothing. However, it’s always prudent to wash like colors together anyway.
Adding Coffee Straight To The Washing Machine
Did you know that if you are rushed for time and don’t have the tools or patience to leave your clothes to steep in coffee on the stove, you could just add coffee to your washing machine to give your clothes a pick-me-up dye?
Coffee will effectively strengthen the black dye in clothing and boost the shade to make the items as dark as can be.
To do this quickly and often, you can add coffee straight to the washing machine. (This works best in a top-loading machine.) Here is how:
- Make 2 cups of strong, black coffee. You might need to make 3 cups depending on the size of your washing machine and how many items you are wanting to dye. Remember the stronger the brew, the darker the dye will be.
- Place the faded items of clothing into the washing machine and switch it on to rinse. Only use a cold rinse and do not add in any detergents, as this could interfere with the dyeing process.
- When the washing machine begins to fill with water, add in the black coffee, pouring one cup at a time directly over the clothes.
- Close the machine and allow the rinse cycle to run to completion.
- Once the rinse cycle has finished, add in some gentle detergent and turn the washing machine onto a wash cycle, with cold water only.
- Remove the clothes from the machine once the wash cycle has finished and let them air dry. You could also place them in a pillowcase into the dryer to set the color more on the hottest setting.
This is a really easy way to bring dark shades back to black clothing, and as soon as you notice a piece of clothing start to fade, you can simply pop it into the washer with some coffee!
How To Dye Clothes Brown With Coffee Grounds
You can dye clothes with the coffee ground, but note that you will only be able to dye white or light-colored fabrics, and the fabric will not turn black, it will instead have a tan or brown color once dyed.
This is a great way to bring a different hue or tone to an item of clothing, and the coffee grounds help to add some texture and pattern to the clothing as well.
Here is how to dye clothes with coffee grounds:
Step 1 – Wash The Fabric
You will need to wash the fabric before you dye it. Wash the fabric to remove any dirt and oil, which could prevent the coffee from dyeing the clothing properly, but do not dry the fabric.
Step 2 – Brew The Coffee
While you won’t be using liquid coffee to dye the clothes, you will need to use coffee grounds that have been brewed. You can either use a French press of coffee maker to get these grounds after brewing (or use the remnants of your cold brew).
You will need enough coffee grounds to cover the entire piece of clothing or fabric you are wanting to dye. This might call for a few pots of coffee or large batch of cold brew to get enough grounds to use.
Try to use as dark of a roast as possible for darker results, and a lighter roast if you only want a slight dye.
Step 3 – Make A Paste
Allow the grounds to cool so that you do not burn yourself. Add the cooled coffee grounds to a bowl and add in a bit of water.
One tablespoon of water is enough for 1 cup of coffee grounds. Stir in the water just until a paste has formed.
Step 4 – Spread The Grounds
Lay the fabric down on a surface (one that can be easily cleaned or which you don’t mind getting wet and staining!) and use the spoon to transfer the coffee grounds paste from the bowl to the fabric.
Spread it around and rub the coffee grounds into the fabric on both sides to ensure they penetrate in as much as possible. This is a messy process!
Step 5 – Leave To Dry
You need to let the fabric dry with the coffee grounds still spread on it. Hang it up to dry in a shaded area and make sure to leave it until it has dried completely. You could also place the fabric in a pillowcase and dry it in the dryer on low heat.
The sun will fade the fabric, so do not let it dry in the sun.
Step 6 – Brush Off Coffee
Use your hands or a small brush to brush off and shake off the coffee grounds.
You might have to repeat the whole process if the fabric is not as dark as you wanted.
Step 7 – Iron Fabric
Use a hot iron to iron down the fabric. This will help smooth out wrinkles and help the color stay for a longer period, setting it further into the material.
Can You Dye Clothes With Tea?
Just as you can dye clothes with coffee, you can also use tea to dye clothes. You do so much the same way, boiling a big pot of tea with enough tea bags to give a dark brew. You then leave the clothes to soak and absorb the color!
Can Coffee Dye Your Hair?
Coffee can dye your hair, and take it up to 2 shades darker. It is not a permanent dye, but it can help to cover gray hairs (or darken your head for a Halloween costume!) for a few hours until you wash your hair.
Simply mix ½ cup of coffee with 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds and 1 cup of conditioner, and leave in your hair to soak before rinsing.
Can I Tie-Dye Clothes With Coffee?
Yes, you can tie-dye clothes with coffee. You will just use rubber bands to section off areas of the clothing, and only dip those sections into the coffee brew. This is a fun way for kids to experiment with tie-dying without having to use harsh dyes.
Up Next: How To Set Tie-Dye Without Vinegar