3 Tips to Lower Water Use When Natural Dyeing


On this World Water Day, we look to water conservation for our most precious resource with these three tips to lower your water use when natural dyeing.

Recharge your mordant baths

If you are mordanting with aluminum sulfate or aluminum acetate, your mordant bath may be reused between 2 and 7 times. For example, if we used 10 grams (2 teaspoons) of aluminum sulfate to mordant 100 grams of fabric, we would recharge the alum bath with 5 grams (1 teaspoon) for the second bath, and another teaspoon for the third bath. When the alum bath looks milky or cloudy, or has a lot of clumpy things floating in it, it’s time to draw a fresh mordant bath.

Don’t overfill your dye pots, and reuse your dye bath water

When drawing water for a dye bath, use the least amount of water possible so that the fibers can move in the dye bath. This reduces both water and heating requirements. Plan on using your exhausted dye baths to dye additional fabrics, and if the dye bath is nearly clear, consider using the dye water for your next color.

Dry fibers before washing

Let fibers get bone dry prior to rinsing and much of the dyestuff remains in the fiber instead of rinsing down the drain. With this trick, you rinse less and use less water. Be aware that protein fibers dipped in indigo vats should be rinsed fairly soon after their final dip as the alkaline indigo vat can damage protein fibers if not rinsed off.