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ECOLOGY, NATURAL DYES

Natural dye with turmeric

From all the colors and pigments, plants and food so effortlessly create, it would be a shame for yellow to be overlooked. In this article, I share with you how to make our own natural turmeric dye. Yay!

What is turmeric?

Turmeric, an ingredient tha you may have come across in recipes or seen in powder form, comes from the root of the turmeric plant or yellow root, that belongs to the same family as ginger (ginger). You can read more here.

Turmeric is widely used in Eastern recipes, for its color and also for its beneficial properties, usually in powder form. At home, you can use it as a powder but also fresh in various recipes. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and detoxifying effects. I personally have a particular weakness for turmeric. That’s why I use it in food, tea, juice and even… clothes!

Natural turmeric dye:

The root of this extraordinary plant is miraculous, not only for its beneficial properties in regards to health, but also for the dye it provides to fabrics! Using turmeric in cooking, you will also notice the intense color it gives to your meals. You will also notice that your hands may turn yellow… As well as, the kitchen counter!

Nowadays, my hands turn yellow because of turmeric and I’m honestly kind of loving it!

So how can you give this gorgeous natural coloring to your clothes or fabrics?

You will we need :

  1. 2 fresh turmeric roots or 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
  2. 4 cups of water (I recommend filtered)
  3. 1 wooden spoon that you will use only for painting with plants and not for food
  4. 1 glass or metal bowl
  5. 1 saucepan
  6. 1 blender (if you choose fresh turmeric)
  7. A cotton towel or cotton pouch for the natural dye (because it will be colored with turmeric)
  8. A piece of cotton / linen fabric e.g. a cotton blouse
  9. A shady spot outside 
  10. Optional: Gloves (I choose not to use gloves, since they’re made of plastic, of limited use and harming to the environment. I’d rather my nails turn yellow, doesn’t matter!)

How to make the fresh turmeric dye :

  1. Gently peel the roots without wasting anything. You can use a teaspoon instead of a knife, since the skin is very thin.
  2. Add the roots and water in the saucepan and bring to a boil for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the hot water and the roots in a blender and mix well so that the turmeric roots melt.
  4. Remove the mixture from the blender and pour it through the towel / pouch in the bowl. The towel or the pouch will restrain the very small pieces of turmeric that you just mashed. If you leave the pieces there, nothing bad will happen necessarily, but the fabric will definitely have some yellow spots and the result won’t be uniform. It depends on your liking! 
  5. After you strain your dye and have it ready in our bowl, you’re ready to dye your fabric.

How to prepare the fabric for coloring:
  1. Wash the fabric with green soap and rinse well with lukewarm water. Drain it well and while it is still wet, dip it in the colored water
  2. Make sure that your cloth is completely covered by the colored water and if it floats, weight it down. I put some glass wine bottles to hold the cloth to the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Every 2-3 hours, stir the cloth with a wooden spoon, changing its position in the bowl. Doing this, you will achieve a uniform color.

Caution! The entire cloth must be covered with water and no protrusion must appear on the surface of the liquid.

Suggested fabric dyeing time :

You will notice that turmeric immediately gives color to the fabric, unlike other plants and foods that need several hours of soaking. However, I suggest you experiment with the time and intensity of the dye. What will happen if you soak your cloth for 10 or 24 hours? How much will the color change?

What to do when you want to remove the cloth from the dye?

Drain the cloth in the bowl. After that, hang to dry. Depending on the season, a fabric needs 1-5 hours to dry.

It is important that the cloth dries in a place with no direct sunlight. For example, if it’s afternoon, hang the cloth on the northern balcony, since the sun won’t shine there for several hours.

It’s equally important to hang the cloth in such a way that it doesn’t wrinkle. Wrinkles will create water patches in the end result, which of course, may be nice for some people. A good solution is to secure the cloth in a flat surface (e.g the wall of a balcony) with either clothespins or small pegs. When I usually dye a piece of fabric, I hang it from the clothesline with a very gentle grip on the edges, so that the clothespins don’t leave a mark.

What to do after the cloth dries :
Let the cloth rest for 72 hours in a well ventilated shady place. That way, the dye will penetrate into the fibers of the fabric. After 3 days, it’s ready! Hooray!

How to wash the cloth :

You can wash a fabric that is dyed with natural coloring without fading, as long as you treat it with love and respect. Just wash by hand with cold water, using a mild green soap.

What to do with the leftover dye :

You can store it in a glass bottle in your fridge and repaint something when you feel inspired.

It’s safe to say that, the properties of plants enchant me! I love to experiment with their colors, with respect and without wasting their glory.

So what do think? Will you try to paint a blouse, a bag or a towel with turmeric?

See you soon,

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