When you first think about natural dyeing with avocado, you might imagine they would produce a green dye. Surprisingly, avocado dye is actually a beautiful shade of pink! Avocados are a great way to naturally dye fibers like wool, yarn, cotton, silk, and linen. You can create the avocado dye by using the pits of the fruit or the skins. You can even use the pits and the skins together. Dyeing with pits will produce orange or apricot colors, and dyeing with skins will produce a more reddish color. You can use as many or as few avocados as you want depending on the color you’re looking for, but a good baseline is to use a 1:1 ratio of avocado to fiber, or a 2:1 ratio for a stronger color. If you need some time to collect enough avocado pits and skins to dye with, you can freeze them until you’re ready. Since avocado pits contain tannin, you won’t need to mordant your fibers before dyeing. You may want to mordant your fibers if you’re using just using the skins to dye with.
To begin making your avocado dye, your pits and skins should be thoroughly cleaned. The fibers you are dyeing should also be cleaned, pre-wetted, and wrung out so they’re damp. Fill a stainless steel pot with enough water to fully submerge the avocado contents as well as all of your fibers. Place your pits and peels into the pot (freely or in some sort of mesh bag for easier removal) and allow to simmer for as long as you’d like. The longer it simmers, the deeper the color will be.
When you’re happy with the color of your dye, remove the dye material and add your damp fibers, maintaining a low simmer and stirring (gently, so as not to agitate) occasionally. The fibers can stay in the dye pot for as long as you like, until you’re satisfied with the color. You could even simmer your fibers for several hours and then remove from heat and allow them to steep overnight for a more vibrant color.
When the fibers have reached your desired color, remove them from the dye pot and rinse thoroughly until any excess dye has been washed out. It is also recommended to use a gentle, neutral soap when rinsing your fibers. Hang them to dry away from direct sunlight.
You can reuse the dye remaining in your dye pot for a lighter shade of pink. The next time you want to make avocado dye, you can experiment and see what shades are created by using only pits or only skins! You could even turn your avocado dye into a light purple or gray by adding an iron solution.