Abstract This study aimed to investigate the catalyzed degradation ability of tourmaline on the dyes methylene blue (MB), rhodamine B (RhB), and congo red (CR) at different pH values. Interestingly, tourmaline strongly adsorbed anionic dyes, but it did not adsorb cationic dyes. When H2O2 was introduced into the tourmaline-dye systems, the degradation percentage for CR catalysis by tourmaline was lower than the percentage of adsorption, whereas the opposite was true for MB and RhB systems. Notably, the catalyzed degradation decreased from 100% to 45% for MB, 100% to 15% for RhB and 100% to 25% for CR as the pH increased from 3.0 to 10.0, respectively, which was much greater than the degradation obtained for previously reported materials at pH values ranging from 4.0 to 10.0. Tourmaline catalytically degraded the dyes over a broad range of pH values, which was attributed to tourmaline automatically adjusting the pH of the dye solutions to approximately 5.5 from an initial range of 4.2–10.0. An electron paramagnetic resonance spin trapping technique observed peroxyl (ROO) and alkoxy (RO) or alkyl (R) radicals originated from the attack of OH radicals and O2− radicals, indicating that these radicals were involved in the catalyzed degradation of MB. Importantly, four intermediate products of MB at m/z 383, 316, 203 and 181 were observed by LC/MS.