Low-cost teak leaf litter powder (TLLP) was prepared as possible substitute for activated carbon. The feasibility of using the adsorbent to remove eosin yellow (EY) dye from aqueous solution was investigated through equilibrium adsorption, kinetic and thermodynamic studies. The removal of dye from aqueous solution was feasible but influenced by temperature, pH, adsorbent dosage and contact time. Variation in the initial concentration of dye did not influence the equilibrium contact time. Optimum adsorption of dye occurred at low adsorbent dosages, alkaline pH and high temperatures. Langmuir isotherm model best fit the equilibrium adsorption data and the maximum monolayer capacity of the adsorbent was 31.64 mg g −1 at 303 K. The adsorption process was best described by pseudo-second order kinetic model at 303 K. Boundary layer diffusion played a key role in the adsorption process. The mechanism of uptake of EY by TLLP was controlled by both liquid film diffusion and intraparticle diffusion. The values of mean adsorption free energy, E (7.91 kJ mol −1), and standard enthalpy, ΔH° (+13.34 kJ mol −1), suggest physical adsorption. The adsorption process was endothermic and spontaneous. Teak leaf litter powder is a promising low-cost adsorbent for treating wastewaters containing eosin yellow.