How to Start Dyeing with Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been a symbol of fertility and eternal life across countless ancient cultures for thousands of years. 

And with their rich colour, health benefits, and captivating beauty, it’s easy to see why. 

Pomegranates are popular motifs in art and literature, mainstays in Mediterranean gardens, but besides using them as a superfood in your smoothies and açaí bowls, did you know that you can also use pomegranate as a natural dye for your clothing? Yes! Dyeing with food is one of my favourite hobbies that accidentally became my full time job!

Dyeing with pomegranate can produce a wide range of vibrant colours on natural fibres like cotton and wool, and in the following blog post, I’ll show you how.

Keep reading to harness the power of the pomegranate dyeing and give your clothes a new sustainable, natural and delicious twist! 

Where do pomegranates come from?

Pomegranates are native to the Himalayas in northern India and Iran. People have been growing pomegranates for centuries, and the fruit eventually travelled across regions as vast as Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. With a history stemming back to ancient times, the pomegranate’s unique beauty is featured in imagery throughout Egyptian mythology, the Babylonian Talmud, and the Old Testament in the Bible. 

So now that you know the history, today, pomegranates are commonly grown in Bermuda, Mexico, and the mountains of Honduras. You can also find pomegranates dotting the landscapes of Arizona and California in the Southwest United States.  

Can pomegranate be used as a dye?

Yes, you can use pomegranate as a dye! Its skin is high in tannins, making it an excellent choice for setting the shade and making it stick to your fabric.

Is pomegranate a mordant? 

Since pomegranates are so high in tannins, using them as a clear tannin during the mordanting stage is quite a-peeling (see what I did there)? If you want to use them during mordanting, I recommend using dehydrated peels. If, instead, you want to use them as a dye, use fresh skins for the brightest yellow hues. 

What are the best fabrics for dyeing with pomegranate? 

Dyeing with pomegranate will work beautifully on both cellulose fibres like cotton, linen and hemp, thanks to its tannin content. Protein fibres like silk and wool can also be successfully dyed with this powerful dyestuff.  Like all natural dyes, when using pomegranate, choosing all-natural fabrics over synthetic is always best.

What’s the colour fastness of a pomegranate? 

Because of its high tannin and luteolin content, pomegranate dye sticks very well to fabrics, making it very resistant to fading or running. That means you can use pomegranate to dye a wide range of garments and feel confident the dye will last for various years of washes and wears. 

Dye-ing to get started? Here’s how to dye fabric with pomegranate step by step

Pomegranate dyeing creates several colours, depending on the process you use. You can create rich yellows, earthy greens, and even deep greys with pomegranate skins. Let’s explore how to make each colour below!

Create yellow dye from pomegranate 

  1. Peel your pomegranate and separate the rinds from the fruit – eat the fruit, of course! You’ll need 100% of the weight of the fibre, so if you’re dyeing 100g of fabric, use 100g of pomegranate rinds for the best colour.
  2. Before bed, soak the pomegranate skins in hot water overnight. 
  3. The following day, simmer the peels for an hour in a designated dyeing pot. 
  4. Let the water cool down. 
  5. Once the water cools, strain the peels.
  6. Add your mordanted fabric to the pot with the liquid.
  7. Let the pot simmer for 60 minutes. 
  8. After letting the pot simmer, allow the fibre to cool off in the dye.
  9. Rinse your fabric under running water until it runs clear.
  10. Air dry your fabric away from direct sunlight.

Creating greens, blacks, and greys 

Since tannins react with iron, you can use pomegranate to make darker, earthier tones like grey, green, and even black. I always recommend you use designated utensils for natural dyeing (meaning, utensils and pots you won’t use for cooking anymore!). This is especially important when using iron salt, due to their corrosive nature. Please also make sure to keep ferrous sulphate away from children or pets, as it might cause them very severe stomach issues if accidentally ingested. Always use gloves when handling iron. 

Here’s how to make greens, blacks, and greys by dyeing with pomegranate. 

  1. Follow the instructions above to create yellow fabric.
  2. Dissolve iron salt, commonly known as ferrous sulphate, in hot water and stir well. For moss green, only add a pinch of iron. If you want grey, keep adding bits of iron until you get the shade you want. For black, add a teaspoon of iron and let the fabric sit in the pot for around 60 minutes. 
  3. Put the yellow fabric in the pot using gloves. 
  4. Stir the fabric around and remove it from the pot when you get the desired colour. 
  5. Rinse your fabric thoroughly under running water until it runs clear.

Air-dry your fabric away from direct sunlight.

Want to learn natural dyeing with more fruits and vegetables? 

Whether you’re looking to create subtle earth tones or brilliant, bright fabrics that stand out from the crowd, dyeing with pomegranate is an excellent choice for giving clothes a beautiful new look. Follow our instructions above to make the most of everything this fruit has to offer your wardrobe! 

Bring colour into your wardrobe the creative, sustainable way while keeping Mother Earth at the centre! My online workshop, Living Colour with the Five Elements, goes over everything crafters, designers, and artists need to know about applying colour to natural fibres in a safe, long-lasting way using plants, clay, and insects. Sign up today, I can’t wait to see you there!