How to Tea Stain Fabrics Properly to Avoid Damage

Last updated on December 27th, 2020 at 05:55 pm

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If you intend to give your fabric an old, antiqued or vintage look, tea stain is a sure way to achieve that look on your fabrics.

There are two sides to the opinions from experts when it comes to tea staining fabric. While some experts believe the acid from the tea will eventually lead to the end of the fabric, others nonetheless love the result and believe if done properly is worth the effort.

But how can you properly tea stain fabric to avoid damage?


Don’t ever set out to carry out tea staining on a large scale, it is best for smaller projects. You will need a commercial dye to carry out a larger project.Lets proceed!

You will need the following supplies to tea stain your fabrics:

  • Bags of black tea (Dependent on the fabric size and the color desired)
  • Two heatproof tubs, you can also use the sink with a stopper.
  • Large pots
  • Stirring utensil
  • Tongs
  • Water
  • Stove/Heating Source

With all these supplies available, follow this below process carefully.

  1. Boiling Hot Water

Start by boiling an adequate quantity of water that can cover up your fabric in the tub. Ensure the tub is not filled to the brim as it is hot and can burn in case it spills. You can either boil on the stove or use a kettle.

  1. Add Teabags to Boiling Water

At this point, you will be adding your black tea backs into the water. Ensure the tea bags are not leaking any leafy content, the quantity of the tea bag will determine the color. A minimum of 15 minutes  wait is necessary.

  1. Stirring

I prefer to use a tub. Pour the hot teabag water into a tub (or any container). Keep stirring the tea bags inside the tub till the water changes to brown and the tea have dissolved inside the hot water. You should stir till you think the tea bag has emptied all its color into the water.

  1. Dipping Fabric

Using the tongs, carefully remove the tea bags as the fabric must not meet it inside the dark brown teabag water. With the use of the tongs used in removing the fabric, gently dip the fabric into the water and ensure it is wholly submerged by the water. Move fabric and turn around to remove folds and air pockets. The fabric should be allowed to take in the heat and the color for around 60 to 90 minutes.

  1. Draining and Squeezing Fabric

After this stage, you can remove the sink stopper and allow the dark brown water to drain completely. You may need to wait for a little while after draining the dark brown water before squeezing out water out of the fabric as it will still be hot.

  1. Cold Bathing of Fabric

You will have to soak the new dark brown fabric in cold water for around 20 to 30 minutes. Tea staining of your fabric is done.

  1. Drying (Sun Drying is Recommended)

We are at the last of the process and equally important as well. All you need is to dry off and the new vintage look of your fabric will stick forever. If you have the chance, you should sun dry for best result.

In summary, tea staining gives the fabric a warm look that makes the fabric vintage. This works better on fabrics from natural material such as linen, muslin, wool, and cotton. Synthetic materials do not have the capacity to absorb the stain. 

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