Do you have a rug you share a deep connection with but cannot use it for any interior decoration plans because it’s too shabby? Many of us have been there.

And while the two options that cross our mind is to either continue purposing the rug until it collapses in aesthetic appeal, or slap a price tag on it and hope for a potential buyer, there’s always one route you can go with old rugs to bring them back to life again.

Dye them!

Yes, you heard that right.

Rugs can be dyed to further project their initial coloring, or to give them a much different look from their original. Many different brands exist that offer rug dyes and each might have a different procedure for application. One message they all seem to pass along however, is to ditch applying lighter colors on darker rugs. The reason is because dyes are translucent, so whatever you try hiding using them might still be visible if the color underneath is darker than the dye.

So only apply darker colors to rugs and not lighter colors, or use customized dyes that will retain the rug’s original coloring.

Also, before dyeing rugs, ensure to run a vacuum cleaner over them to get rid of the dust and dirt. This way, you’ll boost the chances of having every fibre coated perfectly with the dye element.

The next few headings will discuss more about overdying rugs.

When to dye a rug?

Rugs, like any other fabric products are prone to fading and staining. Because of that, they will age overtime and begin to look shabby.

When you notice excessive fading in your rug that makes you want to look away the moment you catch a glimpse, that’s the tell-tale sign you’ve looking for right there! Not for washing or garage sale actually, but for overdying.

Another reason why you should dye a rug is to cover up a large area of stain that isn’t cleared away from cleaning efforts like spot treatment, steaming or even dry-cleaning.

When you don’t also like the current looks of your rug, or feel the need to match the color of the rug with that of the atmosphere it occupies in your house, you can dye it to a much preferred color.

It’ll come out nice and clean, so long you use the right dye, the proper amount of dye, and also heed to the dyeing instructions we’re about to share with you below.

What kind of rug can be overdyed?

Like fingers, not all rugs are created the same. Rugs come in different shapes and forms, and it’s important to distinguish which type can be overdyed and which cannot, to avoid running into a failed experiment.

When it comes to the types of rugs you can be dyed, they’re typically the ones made from natural fibres like wool, cotton, seagrass, silk or jute.

Synthetic fibers too have members that can be dyed, like nylon, but most of them have fibers that cannot hold dye and thus will create a mess when you try to do so.

The best way to figure out whether a rug can be dyed or not is to do a small test in an inconspicuous area. Clean the area properly using shampoo, then dry until slightly damp.

Afterwards, prepare a small quantity of the dye according to the product instructions and apply it to the area. Let sit and inspect to see whether the colors attach to the fibers very well.

One bonus with this testing method is that you get to see just how well the experiment will turn out after dyeing. And if it’s not something that amazes you, you can easily avoid it completely.

What are the things you need in order to dye a rug

In order to dye a rug properly, you need the following products and items.

  • A cleaner like shampoo or carpet cleaner for your specific type of rug.
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A plastic tarp
  • A professional carpet or rug dye
  • Spray bottle

Now let’s go through each and every one of them carefully.

A cleaner: vacuum and shampoo

Before anything, we first need to make sure the rug is clean. This would ensure our venture turns out successful.

Many rugs can be vacuumed. But because of the difference in build and pile, the techniques can differ.

So read the manual for your specific type of rug and find out the exact way to vacuum it. Or better still, you can search it up online.

Typically, many sturdy rugs like cotton or jute rugs can be vacuumed as normal without anything to worry about. Some of them can even be steam cleaned.

It’s the more delicate ones like the sheepskin rugs that cannot be vacuumed or must be vacuumed with caution otherwise the furs or fibers will get damaged. (The best way to clean sheepskin rugs is to dry clean them or wash them by hand.)

A much better alternative than cleaning or vacuuming yourself is to take the rug for professional cleaning and then do the dyeing immediately afterwards.

Plastic Tarp

A plastic tarp is necessary to prevent mess while you dye the rug. It serves as a surface to collect all the waste dyes that result from spraying the rug, and also rinse water that can have some dye on it.

Carpet or rug dye kit

Many brands exist that offer carpet or rug dyes, for example the popular brand called Rit. Depending on the brand you’re using, the procedures for applying the dye might differ.

Also, based on the type of dye you have, you may be able to apply it on a synthetic fiber.

With rug dyes, you also have the option for customization. You can send a sample picture of your rug to the company offering such customization, and they’ll customise the exact same version of dye so you can rejuvenate the rug instead of completely changing the color.

At the end of the day, the dye you have is the most important element of your dyeing journey.

Make sure to go through the many brands in existence and choose carefully, so you have the right product for your carpet, and also so you don’t have to go through a procedure you’re never really prepared for in the first place.

Spray Bottle

This is what you’ll use to spray the dye onto the rug. Get a spray bottle with a large volume for wide area rugs or a small one for small area rugs. Spray rugs will make dyeing very easy.

How to dye a rug

Basically, any carpet or rug dye product should have instructions on how to properly dye the carpet. You’re to follow the instructions for a successful result.

What you need now are just the tips to follow so you don’t end up creating more mess than what you have at hand already.

Tips for dyeing rugs

  • Avoid dyeing rugs to lighter colors. Dyes are typically translucent, and when you’re trying to cover up a stain or anything else that is prominent on the rug, you should always go darker otherwise it will show.
  • Make sure to clean the rug before applying dye on it. This will ensure the application is very effective and efficient.
  • Your dye should typically come with a fixative or finisher that ensures colors are enhanced and don’t bleed during cleaning. Make sure to apply it as directed by the product label. If your product doesn’t come with it, make sure to buy and apply.
  • Avoid dying rugs when it’s humid. Dye rugs when it’s less humid so they can dry easily.
  • Avoid dyeing really expensive rugs. It’s super risky as they typically have buildups or patterns that can be destroyed by the dyeing process. It’s better you manage them until they’re no longer manageable, then you can give them out or sell them for some change. The only rugs you should be dyeing are cheap ones or those you wont bother much when things go wrong.

What are the potential downsides of dyeing a rug?

When dyeing a rug, you risk ruining it. Your guesswork of pinpointing whether or not the rug can be dyed might fail, and you’ll end up ruining the original coloring, or worse, the rug fibers.

Another thing is fading. When you employ cheap dyes in the beginning, you’ll suffer more from fading than when you use high quality dye. Your rug might end up looking like Peese’s Pieces.

How to maintain a dyed rug

Maintaining a dyed rug is pretty easy. Ensure you finish off the rug properly and continually to make sure the color remains bright and doesn’t come off.

You can use a fixative that comes with your specific dye, or buy from a local store. Make sure it is compatible with your rug so you don’t end up ruining it.

Can you dye a carpet?

You can absolutely dye a carpet. Most rug dyes are actually carpet dyes to begin with. For the instructions on how to dye a rug, go over this article from the beginning till the end.

Final Thoughts

When your favorite Persian rug has seen better days, you can always revive it with a quick DIY dyeing.

It might seem like a time consuming exercise and things might even turn out a bit messy, but at the end of the day, you should end up with a rug that is far superior than what you started with so long you keep to the procedures and instructions diligently.