Tea Staining

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A step by step guide on tea staining old clothes for Halloween costumes and other crafts. Fabric dying with tea leaf bags.

Tea staining is a great technique for aging or antiquing clothing.  Nonetheless, it comes in handy for DIY Halloween costumes as well.  I made headless zombie costumes  one year, and tea staining came in handy to age my zombie attire.  It also works great to dress up those DIY Halloween props such as stuffed scary “visitors” sitting on your front porch.

DIY Halloween Costumes you can tea stain:

  • Zombies
  • Pirates
  • Dead Brides
  • Mummies
  • Steam Punk Attire
  • Jedi Costumes
  • Renaissance Costumes

Tea staining isn’t just for Halloween costumes but for other crafts as well. Use this technique to age any fabric for a rustic or antiquated look. Here is a step by step tutorial on tea staining.

Time: 1 hour

The materials you will need are as follows. These may contain recommended affiliate links.

Tip: Scour your closet, garage sales, and thrift stores to find the perfect clothes for your Halloween costume.

A step by step guide on tea staining old clothes for Halloween costumes and other crafts. Fabric dying with tea leaf bags.


Step one: Fill a tea kettle with water, and boil the desired amount of tea bags.  The more tea bags you use, the darker the stain.  For this tutorial, I used five tea bags.

Step two: Fill the bucket with hot water and saturate the clothing you are staining.  Use a wooden spoon to dunk the garments.

Step three: When the tea is ready, pour out most of the water in your bucket, and then pour the brewed tea into your bucket.  Use the spoon to stir and soak the garments.

Step four: If desired, leave the tea bags in the bucket for a darker stain.   Let the garments soak for several minutes.  The longer the soak, the darker the stain will be. Test as you go but remember, the garment will dry lighter than the color it appears to be when it is wet.

Step five:  When your garment reaches the desired color, rinse it out with cold water.  Another option is to rinse the garment in vinegar to set the stain.  If you are making a Halloween costume, I don’t think the vinegar rinse is necessary. Once your garment is rinsed, dry it in the dryer with warm heat.

How do you coffee stain fabric?

Coffee staining is just as easy! Simply follow the instructions above but replaced brewed tea with brewed coffee.

What materials can I tea stain and coffee stain?

Fabric staining works on all-natural fabrics like cotton, wool, lace, velvet, and linen.

Note: I recommend hand washing all tea stained fabrics.

Here is a photo of the Headless Man and Headless Woman Costumes I made. Check out the post to see my husband and I wearing them!


How to Tea Stain Old Clothes for Halloween Costumes


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Update: I originally wrote and published this article October 5, 2011. Since then I have updated it to add some other tips I have learned by tea staining fabric.


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  1. This post was most helpful, I always wanted to try tea staining, and the colors of your blog are cool too.

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