DIY Beet-Dyed Thrift Store Napkins

9 Materials
3 Hours

Beets aren’t just for dinner! A DIY featuring a step-by-step tutorial to make your own linens the prettiest shade of blush pink with beet juice!

My father has a beautiful garden, and since I live about 10 minutes away from my parents I am lucky enough to enjoy his vegetables from his garden. This time of the year, my dad’s garden is producing many vegetables, including beets. I am not a fan of eating beets, but I was recently inspired by House of Lars to use my father’s beautiful beets for a new purpose.

As you may know, thrifting has always been so much fun for me. I am missing many things during this quarantine (as we all are), but I am missing thrifting a lot. I was recently rummaging through my thrift store napkins and I noticed some of them were stained. So I thought about my father’s beets and decided to dye my thrift store napkins the prettiest shade of blush pink to give them new life.

This is a great use for thrift store napkins or any thrift store linens with stains. Thrift store linens are very inexpensive and some have beautiful markings, endearing shapes and patterns. This technique will allow you to give your thrift store napkins character and a high end, custom look for your next party without the cost of it.

This natural dying technique will work on any 100"% cotton linen. For my first attempt, I tried, and failed to dye my fabric because it had 65% polyester, and 35% cotton. The natural dye didn’t stick.

I hope this natural process will inspire you to look around at your own garden, backyard, farmer’s market or grocery store for unconventional ways to personalize well-loved or fresh pieces in your home! The possibilities are endless, and now I am excited to try more colors in the rainbow!

To dye your own cotton with natural beet dye, you will need:

  • Beets. Make sure the beets are ripe. On my first attempt I used some old beets and the dye wasn't strong enough. For 6 napkins I used 6 large beets.
  • Vinegar. 1 cup of vinegar to 3 cups of water. I used distilled white vinegar.
  • Water. For the vinegar solution, and to cover the beets.
  • Two, Heavy Large Pots. One for the vinegar solution to prep the fabric, and the other for the beet dye.
  • Measuring Cups
  • 100% Cotton Fabric to Dye
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Knife
  • Tongs

Step 1: Prep your fabric.

Add 1 cup of vinegar to 3 cups of water into a large pot. Increase the measurements as needed for the batch size. I used 3 cups of vinegar and 9 cups of water for my 6 napkins.

Bring the vinegar solution to a boil, then with tongs add the fabric.

Boil the fabric for 1 hour. Keep an eye on the fabric and use the tongs to keep the fabric moving so it doesn’t burn. (I burned my fabric during my first attempt, because I didn’t have enough water nor did I keep an eye on it.)

Step 2: While your fabric is boiling, make your beet dye.

Skin and cube the beets.

Add the beets to a large pot. Cover the beets fully with water, and about an inch above with water covering the beets.

Bring the beets to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about one hour.

Step 3: After an hour of boiling the beets, remove the beets with a slotted spoon.

I put my beets in our compost for my garden.

Then remove the beet dye from the heat.

Step 4: After your fabric has boiled in the vinegar solution for an hour, turn off the heat and remove the fabric with tongs.

Rinse the fabric under cool water.

Step 4: After an hour, remove the fabric from the boiling water with tongs.

After your fabric has boiled in the vinegar solution for an hour, turn off the heat and remove the fabric with tongs.

Rinse the fabric under cool water.

Step 5: Place the wet fabric in the beet dye.

Let the fabric sit for anywhere from an hour to 24 hours. The longer you let the fabric sit the more saturated the beet pigment will be onto the fabric, and the richer the color will be.

I wanted a softer, pale pink for my napkins so I kept them in the beet dye for about 2.5 hours.

*The above picture is after 1 hour, and the below picture is right before I took the napkins out at 2.5 hours.

Step 6: Remove the dyed fabric and squeeze out excess beet juice.

Place your pot in a sink, and remove and squeeze out any extra beet juice from the dyed fabric.

Step 7: Rinse each piece of fabric in cool water. Then lay the fabric flat on a towel to dry.

*Please use a towel that you don’t mind getting ruined (stained on) as the beet juice may also dry onto the drying towel from the recently dyed linen.

*Next time I will lay my linens flat on a towel to dry. Some of the napkins had creases from the way the dye settled, because of the way they were hanging on my clothes drying rack.

Step 8: (Optional) After your fabric dries, place your fabric in a cold water bath.

(Optional) After your fabric dries, place the fabric gently in a cold water bath with some fabric softener to rinse off the vinegar smell.

Then lay them flat on top of a towel to dry again.

*Some of the pigment will leave the cloth, but that is okay.

Once dry, your fabric is ready to use.

Step 9: When cleaning your dyed fabric, I recommend hand washing in cold water.

I love how the beets added a sweet touch to my thrifted napkins. I can’t wait to use them at my next dinner party.

I hope you enjoy customizing your own linens with beets this season!

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info

Top Hometalk Projects

Gardeners: Copy These 28 Stunning Ways To Display Your Plants
31 Space Saving Storage Ideas That'll Keep Your Home Organized
29 Of The Best DIY Mirror Projects Ever Made
31 American Flag Ideas That Will Fill You With Pride
30 Ways To Use Old Jeans For Brilliant Craft Ideas
30 Ways To Use Old Jeans For Brilliant Craft Ideas
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space
29 Of The Best DIY Mirror Projects Ever Made
13 Essential Repair Tricks That Everyone Needs To Know
16 Ways to Showcase Your Herb Garden
17 DIY Decor Ideas To Get The Party Started
11 Unexpected Ways to Use Spices in Your Home
17 Faux Brick Ideas For Your Home
14 Cool Ways To Upholster Chairs That You Can DIY
30 Essential Hacks For Cleaning Around Your Home
Elizabeth at Country Peony

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • HFredda
    on May 26, 2020


    The napkin is placed flat and open under the plate?

    Was napkin color intended to host the red, green, blue and gold colors in the plate, Elizabeth?

  • Kay
    on May 26, 2020

    Won't the stains still show as a deeper color when fabric is dyed? Or does the vinegar boil remove them?

    • Elizabeth at Country Peony
      on May 27, 2020

      Thank you for your question, Kay. Yes, the stains do show as a different color. I love the variation of them.

      I completely agree with Rynn.

  • Nicole
    on Jun 2, 2020

    Very pretty!! Not sure if someone asked this already but do you have to use fresh beets or can you use the beet juice from a can to soak them in?

    • Good question!!! I have not tried just beet juice from a can but it may work especially if you properly prepare the fabric. If you do try it, please let me know how it goes.

Join the conversation

4 of 25 comments
  • Trudy
    on May 27, 2020

    I love them. Thanks for the detailed instructions. I have onion skins that I've been saving as well, so one of these days......

  • Wishy washy maybe
    on May 28, 2020

    I will, but I've gotten distracted with wallpapering/ decopaging a pleather wing back chair.

    I'll keep you posted on both.

Your comment...