How to Make Turmeric Fabric Dye

Turmeric Fabric Dye

If you’ve used turmeric before you may have noticed it can give your hands a bit of a stain with its bright yellow colour. What you may not know is turmeric has been used as a fabric dye for hundreds of years.


  • Natural Fabric such as cotton, linen, silk
  • Turmeric Powder (buy here)
  • Vinegar
  • Water


  1. Add 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water in a large pot and place on a medium heat.
  2. Submerge fabric in solution.
  3. Bring to boil and let simmer for approximately 1 hour. This will allow the dye to take to the fabric.
  4. In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons of turmeric and 2 cups water to a large, stainless steel or aluminium pot (porcelain or ceramic may stain from the turmeric).
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 mins before taking off stove.
  6. Drain the vinegar solution and rinse fabric under cold tap water to get rid of the smell of vinegar. (Remember, porcelain and ceramic may stain so best to use a stainless steel sink!)


Time to do some patterns! You can do this by folding, tying rubber bands around twisted pieces of the fabric or even using string to tie up parts.

Take your piece of fabric or clothing item and submerge in the turmeric solution using a wooden spoon to ensure all the fabric has even cover* (*not the case if dip dying!)
The longer the material soaks, the more vibrant it will be. We recommend checking at 3 minutes, and again every few minutes after, until the desired colour is achieved. Be conscious to ensure the fabric is fully submerged after every time it is checked to ensure even colour.

Once your fabric is at the desired colour, rinse the fabric in the sink (remember, porcelain and ceramic may stain so best to use a stainless steel sink!) until the water runs clear.

Voila! You have turmeric dyed fabric!



We suggest wearing rubber gloves and an apron due to avoid staining of your hands and clothes you are wearing!

When choosing a piece of fabric or even an item of clothing to dye, try using a light and undyed fabric as it will work better. You may even want to give the fabric or clothing a wash if you are buying new to remove any starch or anything else that may be present.

This mixture makes a large amount of dye, so if you have any left over, you can pop it into a glass jar and use for another project. Recommended shelf life is 1-2 weeks

When washing at a later date after using, be sure to wash on its own or with like colours.  The colour will fade, as most colour does, but it holds quite well if the procedure is followed.

Have you dyed fabric with turmeric? We would love to see your creations.

7 thoughts on “How to Make Turmeric Fabric Dye

  1. riku says:

    Very…nice… articles.

  2. Sue Reading says:

    This is nice but it doesn’t say how much turmeric powder to use!

  3. Jan Pearse says:

    I don’t get the instructions, the fabric goes in the water and vinegar for an hour, the turmeric and water is in another pot and the fabric never goes in it. Is it me or is there a mistake?

  4. Jodi Good says:

    I did this and dried it in the sun nd the sun bleached out the color and its white again! What dod
    i do wrong or is that normal?

    1. Admin says:

      Hi Jodi
      I honestly could not tell you as we have not tried this yet. Sorry

    2. Jessica says:

      Hi Jodi,

      Never let the fabric dry in the sun, but in the shade. The sun bleaches out, its a normal reaction.

    3. Hey Jodi, yes that is normal. Many plant based dyes are very quick to bleach in the sun, especially here in our hot Australian sun! Turmeric is one of the natural dyes that fades the quickest. Most natural yellow dyes do. When I’m teaching my students, I always tell them to dry their botanical dyed items in shade and use a cold hand wash where possible and avoid soaking. Is it worth the trouble if you have to re-dye after a time? I think so! So does Indian culture and Japanese culture who for hundreds of years loved botanical dyes for what they are and lovingly re-dye their items every year as a community. Also, vinegar isn’t the best way to help your turmeric stick to your fabric. For plant fibres such as linen and cotton you should be boiling your fabric in washing soda fist to remove of chemical residue from the manufacturing process, then rinse well and mordant with Alum acetate or a plant based mordant such as rhubarb leaves or soy milk. THEN dye your items. If dying animal fibres such as wool or silk, wash first with a pH neutral dish detergent, rinse and then mordant with alum potassium sulphate then dye with turmeric. You should also strain the dye bath before adding your fibre too because otherwise you get little turmeric particles all over your fabric. Not such a problem with plant based materials but can be a bugger to wash out of wool. – Pinky xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *