DIY Turmeric Dye for Fabric (+ washing instructions!)

How to Make Turmeric Dye for Fabric

You know that turmeric has a ton of health benefits, but did you know that this spice is great for dyeing fabric? Here’s how to make turmeric dye and how to care for your dyed fabric.

Many of the foods that you associate with stains can be made into fabric dye, and turmeric is not one of the exceptions. Turmeric dye yields a cheery yellow color that fades some with washing but sticks pretty well with the right type of care.

Caring for Turmeric Dyed-Fabric

The first key to caring for naturally dyed fabrics is to manage your expectations. Turmeric dye is going to fade from that initial almost neon yellow. Here’s what to expect when you wash your dyed fabric:

Washing Fabric with Turmeric Dye

As you can see, the fading after that first wash is dramatic, but after that it doesn’t fade much at all.

Since this process doesn’t use harsh chemical dyes or fixatives, you are definitely going to see some fading over time, and that’s OK! The turmeric-dyed fabric that I have made tends to fade for the first three washes and then settle in to a sunny yellow.

Your best bet is to wash your turmeric-dyed fabric in cold water. It’s fine to toss it into the dryer, as long as the fabric itself can hold up to the dryer. That’s really it! Cold washes, and you’re good to go.

How to Make Turmeric Dye for Fabric

The dye process is actually super simple.


  • water and salt(use 1 tablespoon salt per cup of water)
  • fabric that you want to dye
  • pot large enough for your fabric (this will dictate how much water/salt/turmeric you need)
  • water and turmeric (use 1 tablespoon turmeric per cup of water)
  • white vinegar
  • large bowl


1. Simmer your fabric in the water/salt mixture for about an hour. Remove from the heat, then drain and rinse your fabric.

2. Simmer your fabric in the same pot again, this time with the water/turmeric mixture, for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat but don’t drain. Let your fabric steep in the turmeric mixture for up to 15 minutes.

3. Rinse the fabric under running water, then transfer to your bowl and cover in the vinegar for a quick rinse.

4. Rinse again with water, then hang your fabric to dry.

4 thoughts on “DIY Turmeric Dye for Fabric (+ washing instructions!)”

  1. Hi Becky – you’ve given different instructions on your ‘how to die with tumeric’ pages. On one you out the fabric in for 15 mins with the heat on and then place in vinegar. in the other you simmer the tumeric and water without the fabric and no vinegar.

    Is there a reason why you used different techniques?

  2. Can all this be done in cold water? My cotton garment barely fits me now so I don’t want it shrinking! I saw something somewhere about dyeing in cold water.

  3. Donald R. MacLeod

    Dear Becky,

    I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K. and am a fisherman and passionate fly-dresser. In the last few years Irish fly-dressers have developed a colour for deer hair and other materials which has come to be known as West of Ireland Golden Olive (“WOIGO”), which is actually neither golden nor olive, but a sort of light tobacco colour and I have been trying to develop my own supply, using only natural products because I am against the use of dangerous chemicals for exactly the reasons you give. It seemed to me that experimenting with turmeric is an obvious starting-point which led me to discover your instructions for its use. Many thanks indeed.

    I thought you might like to know that one of our most distinguished classic fly-dressers here in Scotland, a gentleman called Brian Burnett, has produced a book narrating the results of his experiments over many years using only natural materials. I wish I could give you the full title but we have painters and decorators in the house just now and all our books have been removed from their shelves and are lying around the house in piles, covered in dust-sheets. You can however obtain this book for I think Β£30 Stg from Coch-y-bonddu Books in Machynllech, Wales, UK. You should have no trouble finding their website and I hope and think you will find Brian’s careful notes fascinating indeed.

    Yours sincerely,

    Donald R. MacLeod

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