How to Make Naturally-Dyed Napkins with Avocados

published Oct 19, 2017
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These napkins are a dream DIY: easy, natural, useful and beautiful. That pretty shade of pink comes from avocado pits and skins. (Seriously!) Don’t avocados make everything better? From toast to textiles, they’re a superfood for sure. The perfect accessory to complement your morning coffee, these napkins just might inspire you to start dyeing your sheets, curtains and clothes next.

To make the dye, you’ll need about 10 avocados, so start saving the scraps from your avocado toast. You can store the pits and peels in the freezer, then thaw them when you’re ready to start your project.

Avocado pits contain tannin, which acts a natural mordant (a binder that helps the dye take to the fabric). Translation: you don’t need to add any extra ingredients to your recipe. You can add a mordant, like an iron solution, but the dye will darken to a bluish-purple color. With natural dyeing, no two dye baths are exactly alike, so every time you do this project, you’ll get complex, rich variations on a color.

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What You’ll Need

  • 10 ripe avocados (or the pits and skins saved from 10 avocados)
  • 4 natural fabric napkins (cotton or linen)
  • Large stainless steel stock pot (about 8 – 12 quarts)
  • Stainless steel tongs
  • Mesh strainer
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What You’ll Do

Step 1: Prep Your Avocado Dye

  • Clean the avocado pits and skins by scrubbing the extra flesh off the pits and scraping the insides of the skins. Slice the skins into a few large pieces.
  • Place the cleaned pits and skins into the stock pot and add enough water to fill the pot about three-quarters full.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about an hour.
  • After the water in the pot has turned a deep rust color, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit overnight to allow the dye to deepen.
  • The next day, strain out the pits and skins.
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Step 2: Dye Your Napkins

  • Pre-soak the napkins (or whatever fabric you’re dyeing) in water.
  • Add the napkins to the dye bath and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a half hour to an hour, depending on how deep you want the final color. Continue to stir and move the napkins around every few minutes to prevent inconsistencies in the color.
  • Check the napkin color, keeping in mind that the color seen while the napkin is wet will lighten a shade or two as it dries.
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Step 3: Rinse, Dry, Fold and Finish!

  • Once the napkins have reached the desired shade, remove them from the dye bath, squeezing out excess dye, and rinse in cool water until the water runs clear.
  • Hang to dry away from sunlight.
  • You can continue to use the same dye bath for additional napkins or other fabric projects, but the color may begin to lose potency after multiple uses.
  • Fold your napkins, take them to the coffee table and…

Step 4: Take a Coffee Break
Relax and enjoy a cup of coffee — you’ve earned it! (Plus, there’s nothing like black coffee to really make that pink pop.)

Try Dunkin’ Donuts for a consistently great cup of coffee.

Did you know you can bring home and brew up the Dunkin’ coffee you love? Choose from bold, sweet or classic roasts — all rich and smooth, not bitter.

This post is sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts and was created by the Apartment Therapy Creative Studio with our DIY Expert, Ashley Page Norton.
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