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How to Use Coffee as a Natural Dye Coffee is not just for drinking but also makes an effective natural dye. Although this use for the drink is not that well known, it is helpful to know if you ever need to create costumes that look aged. Here is the procedure for dyeing an ostrich feather a beige/ecru color so they can be used for decorative purposes. Ostrich feathers that have their natural color are not commercially available and the ones sold at costume shops are either bleached white or dyed bright colors. Start with a white bleached feather that will absorb the color well. Make some double-strength coffee and then put it in a container. Ideally, the container should be long enough to accommodate the whole feather but if you can’t find one you can dye it in portions. You don’t need to moisten the feather before dyeing it. All you have to do is to submerge the feather in the container long enough for it to absorb the color. Keep in mind that when the feather dries, it will become a lighter color than when it was wet so adjust your immersion time accordingly. For example, if you want the feather to have an ecru color, submerge it for five minutes. End the process by blow-drying the feather. If you don’t do this, the feather will look limp and not have its natural fluffy appearance. You can also use coffee to dye clothes and give them an aged or mellowed look. However, you can only use this natural dye with organic fabrics such as cotton and wool and with garments that are ‘virgin’, meaning it has never been worn before. In addition, if you want to achieve a deep chocolate brown, you should not use this dye since you will only get a sienna color at best. The procedure:  Gather around one to two cups of used grounds. The more grounds you have


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and the darker the roast, the darker the color you get. Put around one gallon of water for every cup of grounds into a pot. Bring the water to a boil and then remove from the stove and let steep. Thoroughly wet the garment that you want to dye since this will make it accept the dye better. Keep the grounds in the mixture if you want a darker color or steep them if you want a lighter shade. Once the mixture cools, immerse the garment. Leave in for a minimum of five minutes or overnight depending on the color you want to achieve. Keep in mind that the color will be lighter once the garment dries and will not stay the same shade it is when you pull it out of the mixture. Set the dye by adding either two teaspoons of alum or two tablespoons of vinegar to the mixture. Remove the garment from the mixture, rinse it thoroughly then let dry. Wash the garment carefully since the dye will not keep for as long as commercial dyes and the color will fade over time.

That is it! You now have dyed your clothes for a unique look. For more coffee tips & tricks, follow us on

How to use coffee as a natural dye  

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