How To Dye Cotton With Black Beans (No Mordant)

How To Dye Cotton Blue With Black Beans No Mordant Needed

A couple of years ago I’ve already published a tutorial on how to dye cotton fabric blue with black beans using DIY iron mordant and a cold dyeing process. This is now a different method to dye cotton gray blue with black beans. You don’t need to mordant the fabric before dyeing it with black beans! 😀 And because it’s a hot dyeing method, it’s also a lot faster.

Related: How To Dye Cotton Blue With Black Beans (DIY Iron Mordant, Cold Method)


How To Dye Cotton With Black Beans Without Mordant

You’ll Need:

  • black beans (I used organic black beans)
  • pot
  • water
  • pre-washed cotton fabric, cotton yarn or cotton clothing

1. Soak The Black Beans For 24 Hours

Put the beans in a large bowl. You can use a bowl that you also use for food because this natural dye is edible! Cover the black beans with cold water. Then soak the black beans for 24 hours at room temperature. It may be necessary to add more water during the soaking: The beans should always be covered with water.

2. Remove The Beans

After 24 hours remove the beans from the water. You need the soaking water, not the cooking water for dyeing! And don’t throw away the beans: you can now use the beans to cook food like delicious Dal Makhani! In order that you can still use the beans for food, it’s important that you don’t let the beans soak for longer than 24 hours.

3. Soak The Fabric For About 12-48 Hours

Now wet the fabric (or piece of clothing) with cold water and put it into the black bean soaking water. Make sure that it’s fully submerged and that there are no air bubbles. Because natural blue dyes are heat-sensitive you can just let the fabric soak in the black bean dye at room temperature (cold soak method). If you want to heat the dye from time to time heat the dye to a maximum of 70°C (160°F). Heating the black bean dye over 70°C (160°F) destroys the blue color. You can soak the fabric until you like the color. Keep in mind that the color of wet fabric appears darker than that of dry fabric. I let my fabric soak for about 24 hours.

4. Remove The Fabric From The Black Bean Dye

When you like the color, remove the fabric from the black bean dye. Let the fabric dry for at least 24 hours. This helps to fix the dye to the fibers making it more wash-fast.

5. Wash The Fabric

Now you can wash the fabric with warm water and soap. Or you can also wash it in the washing machine with laundry detergent. But the fabric will bleed during the first wash.

Cotton Clothing Naturally Dyed With Black Beans Without Mordant DIY Tutorial
After washing it in warm water and soap


Natural Dyeing With Black Beans – FAQs

Is Black Bean Dye Lightfast & Washfast?

Yes, black bean dye is lightfast and washfast even on unmordanted fabric. However, keep in mind that all dyed fabric fades over time – even fabric dyed with synthetic dyes. The blue of natural black bean dye usually fades to gray blue (similar to the color of denim fabric), gray or khaki.

Do I Need The Soaking Water Or The Cooking Water Of Black Beans?

You need the soaking water of the dried black beans for natural dyeing.

I Want To Try Black Bean Dye. But I Don’t Want To Waste Food!

You don’t have to waste food if you dye fabric with black beans! 😀 You only need the soaking water of the dried black beans for dyeing. So you can still use the black beans for cooking! Isn’t that great?

Can I Dye All Kinds Of Fabric?

So far I’ve dyed cotton fabric, cotton yarn, cotton t-shirts and also silk fabric. And all worked! 😀 On silk black beans produced the deepest shade of blue. I haven’t tried dyeing wool with black beans so far so I don’t know if it works.

Can I Also Use Canned Black Beans?

No, it doesn’t work with canned black beans because you need the soaking water and not the cooking water of the black beans.

How Do I Care For My Natural Dyed Fabric?

After the first wash, you can wash your black bean dyed fabric with similar colors in the washing machine.


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How To Dye Cotton Blue With Black Beans No Mordant Needed

4 thoughts on “How To Dye Cotton With Black Beans (No Mordant)

  1. I know this is an old post but thought I would try. If I added lemon juice I’ve heard that the color will be a stronger purple and baking soda more of a green
    Have you ever tried that? either as a mordant or just a color adjuster?

    1. Natural dyes – especially natural blue dyes – are very ph-sensitive. And lemon juice and baking soda changes the ph of the dye bath. The dye bath needs to be a specific ph so that the natural dye bonds to the fabric making it washfast. You can modify the color of the naturally dyed fabric with an acid or base after dyeing: However, as soon as you wash (or wear) your fabric the modified color is gone and the fabric turns back to its original color. Here you can read more about the ph and natural dyeing in general: 14 FAQs About Eco-Friendly Natural Dyeing and 9 FAQs About Dyeing Cotton Blue With Red Cabbage.

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