Natural Dyeing without harsh chemicals

  • 2 min read

Natural dyeing is a great way to dye without using harsh chemicals. You can reuse kitchen scraps that would otherwise be thrown out. An easy way to get started is with onion skins. They're easy to source, doesn't require a mordant and produce beautiful earthy brown tones.

Notes on your onion skins:

  • The amount of onion skins you will need depends on the amount of material you are using and how saturated the color you'd like

  • More onion skins make a darker color

  • You need the most outer parts of the onion skins, dry and papery

  • Keep onion skins in an airtight container or plastic bag in a cool dry place for about a week


  • City Threads 100% cotton fabric (white)

  • 1/2-gallon bag of brown onion skins (the more the better)

  • 1 large 3–5-liter glass jar

  • 1 large cooking pot

  • Stainless steel tongs

  • Wooden spoon

  • Salt

  • Rubber Bands

  • Washing Machine

  • Dryer


  1. Pre-wash your fabric or garments in the washing machine, not using detergent, fabric softener etc.

  2. In your glass jar, saturate your fabric in a bath of hot salted water. About one tablespoon per cup of water. Use enough water to cover all of your fabric, soak for at least an hour.

  3. In your second pot, pour enough water to cover your material (garments will be added later). Add your onion skins, simmer on low-medium heat

  4. While your dye bath simmers, take your garments out of the salt bath and fold or scrunch them into patterns using your rubber bands

  5. Check on your dye bath. If it looks like the right shade, remove the onion skins. Use a fine strainer to remove all the remnants, this will help with an even dye

  6. Add your tied garments to the dye bath, keeping the heat on low, stirring frequently and rotating garments.

  7. Remove garments from the dye bath once you are happy with the color.

  8. Rinse in cold water and toss in the dryer.

Tips for washing:

  1. Wash garments together for the first few washes.

  2. Wash on cold, no detergent, fabric softener, etc.

  3. Hang dry or in the dryer.

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Blog & Video Credit- @littlehausonthehill