How to Dye Fabric with Tea & Save Your Stained Kitchen Towels!

Today's post is in partnership with Numi tea. I'll be working with Numi over the summer to share my favorite ways to use their delicious fair trade teas in recipes, DIY projects, and more! Read my full sponsored post policy here. 


In a consumer culture that's designed to make us de-value our stuff, I'm working hard to fight back against the norm and commit to the items that are in my home for the long run. I'm slowly teaching myself the stay disciplined in mending, tailoring, repairing, repurposing, and recycling things that are worn out or ruined rather than just chucking things into the trashcan without a second thought toward their final demise in a landfill. 

Today, I'm sharing a little tutorial on how I "rescued" some dingy and stained tea towels with.... tea! I'm not sure what I was thinking when I purchased all white towels for my kitchen. Sure, if you're only using your pristine white cloths to dry clean dishes, you'll be fine, but my towels inevitably get used for everything from wiping melted chocolate off my hands to serving as a makeshift hot pad as I pick up my hot (and sometimes rather greasy) cast iron pans off the stove. Needless to stay, they've picked up some very stubborn stains as years have gone by. 

I got smart when I sewed some new cloth napkins recently and chose a lovely shade of light brown that hides stains and grease spots quite well... so I had the idea to breathe new life into my old towels by dying them a similar hue. 

First off, you'll need a box of tea bags. I chose Numi's aged earl grey because I knew it would give me a nice, dark liquid to really stain my fabric deeply (though any tea will work, you will get slightly different shades and darknesses depending on the blend). 

Add about 10 cups of water to a stainless steel pot and bring it to a boil. add 18-20 tea bags and let it steep for 20 minutes. remove tea bags, squeezing to remove excess liquid. 

Place your textiles into the tea brew, making sure to evenly soak and submerge all of the fabric as best as you can. If you want a very light stain, you can remove your fabric after a short half-hour soak. If you'd like the tone to be darker (like I did), let the fabric soak overnight. 

Carefully wring out your dyed fabric over the sink, and then rinse in a clean sink full of cold water and a splash of vinegar. Wash and dry normally, and you're done! 

As you can see, my fabrics took on an even, warm brown color. Though some of the darkest stains are still slightly visible, the tea-staining does wonders to disguise their ugliness, and I love the antique feel of my "new" towels! 

Have you ever tried staining fabric with tea? How did it turn out? Any other suggestions for how to use this trick?