It’s hard to imagine by looking at avocados that they can produce a beautiful pink dye, but with this easy tutorial you can all try this at home and give new life to your pre-loved garments. Keep in mind that natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool, silk etc will take the dye much easier.

natural plant based dyeing
Avocado dyed silk scarf. Model: Sarah Routhier. Photo: Liya Mirzaeva

Now start collecting your skins or pits(you can use both). Try scraping as much as you can off them and put them in the freezer until you have enough to use. You can wash them, but I can never be bothered, it doesn’t make much of a difference later on.

plant based dyeing

What you will need:

• Avocado skins or pits(they will produce slightly different shades, experiment with both)
• Two nonreactive stainless-steel pots to start with(later on you can try different ones to see how it will affect your results)
• Pre-washed fiber (I really recommend to always stick to natural and organic ones)
• Nonreactive stainless steel tongs( You can use a wooden spoon, but depending on what timber it’s made of and how treated it might affect the result)
• A strainer
• Water
• Heat source
• Salt

Always make your dyes outside or in a well-ventilated area and use a different pot to the one you would cook food in. Although many natural dyes are completely safe, unless you know exactly what their properties are and how they will affect you when you inhale the steam, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also if cooking on gas or fire makes sure, you have a nice even ground surface and enough empty space around to not start a bigger fire! And the last and most important safety suggestion is never falling asleep while your pot is cooking and check on it quite often to make sure there’s enough water left, just like cooking a soup. Natural dyeing will definitely test your patience, so maybe chose a day when you’re full of energy!

avocado skin dyeing

Now let’s get to the fun part!

• Place your skins in the pot and fill up with water. Add enough water to let them float freely, but remember the more avocados, the more concentrated the dye. Depending on what shade you’re after.

natural dyeing avocado

• You can break them up for a faster result.

avocado skin cooking

• Now heat them up and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil them! Even though it might seem that it will speed up the process, I found that that slow simmering works much better! You will start noticing the changes after about fifteen minutes. Heat for about an hour for stronger colors and make sure you close the lid so your dye doesn’t just evaporate. Stir it every now and then.

natural red dyeing

• Here is how it looked after forty-five minutes. When you’re satisfied with the color, strain your dye into another nonreactive pot! There’s nothing more annoying than picking bits of avocado from your fabric later on.

plant based dyeing with avocado

• Don’t straight away dispose of your skins; you can repeat the previous steps again if you need more dye!

natural red color made from avocado skin

• Your dye is now ready; submerge your fabric in it. If you live in a very hot place just leave it under the sun so it stays warm for longer. Otherwise close the lid again and just let it sit.

avocado red plant based dyeing

• For best results and stronger color, I do recommend leaving it overnight, but for this tutorial, I look my fabric out after a few hours to take pictures, while I still had light. Be patient! After you’re finished, you can actually store your dye in the fridge to use again. Just remember to heat it up!

• Take your fabric out and squeeze as much water out as possible. Let it dry in a shady spot! Natural dyes are very sensitive to the sun! Before you rinse your fabric, just let it sit for a week or longer. This will help with more permanent results.

• I recommend dipping your dyed piece in warm salt water for a few minutes. It works as a fixative. Ocean water is perfect, but if you’re mixing your own make sure you buy salt that’s not iodized!

natural dyeing

Here are my results. I love the lighter shades, but if you want stronger pinks just use more skins and heat them for longer!

Now start eating avocados and have some fun! If you have any questions I am available through my website and am always very happy to help out.

Please note: Somfiberses need a mordant for dyeing, but if dyeing with avocado pits, you do not need to pre mordant your fibers, as tannin in them acts as a mordant. Otherwise, there has already been an article posted here by someone else on one of the ways to mordant your fibers.