Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dye-ing for a Change

If you want to get the "how-to" on this project, scroll on down.

If you want the story, well then, grab your favorite drink of choice and sit for a spell

It all started on a dark and stormy day when the work-from-home hubby got sick of dropped phone calls, bringing clients through the messy kitchen and toy strewn basement to his office and constant disruption of little fists knocking on the door asking to play on the iPad, or to get a hug.

Rooms needed to be re-arranged.  Thankfully, that ball had already been rolling because I couldn't stand the two girls sharing such a small space and had moved them from their upstairs tropical jungle to the room formerly called Dakota's.  Just a simple trade.  But the jungle vines were calling to Todd.

He wanted that space.

Where would we put Dakota?  That meant Connor on the couch for a week and Dakota in the disaster that had been Connor's room (because of all of the upheaval, no laundry has been done for over a week).

Once the orange room was cleaned out, I used a regular old carpet cleaner to clean the carpet and then slapped (almost literally, in Todd's terms) a coat of Valspar Artichoke paint on the walls.  Whilst it was drying, I hopped online to begin some research.  It was breaking my heart to think that I would be forcing my husband to spend over 8 hours a day in a room with pink carpet.  There had to be something to do to change it (truly, what was breaking my heart was the thought of all those red accessories, black furniture and gray walls in their masculine glory being thrown of kilter by the femininity of the pink carpet).

We didn't have any money to change the carpet, we didn't even have enough money to purchase a rug.  So I had to think I usually do.

I came across this and thought that I might be able to do dye the carpet on my own, but I wasn't completely confident.  So, I called and left a message for a neighbor of mine that owns a carpet cleaning company to see if he or anyone he knew had ever successfully accomplished something like this.  He never called back.  I started getting ready to bring the furniture into the room, admitting defeat, when he showed up on my front doorstep.

He enthusiastically wanted to see what I was thinking of doing and I asked him all sorts of questions, and he gave me tons of tips, but mostly, he gave me the encouragement and confidence necessary to just bite the bullet and dive into this carpet altering challenge.

The greatest tips that he gave to me were:

     *When dying carpet, you should only dye within the same color family, and you can only go darker.  Otherwise, it will just sit on top of the carpet and look like one big ole stain.  He was right, I had wanted to go black or gray, so I tested a swatch and it turned out looking like this:

See how the black just sits on top of the carpet, and you can still see the pink through it, the red attaches to the pink better.  There's a whole science behind it, and I could try to explain it, but I'd mess it up.

*Make sure to add vinegar to the solution or else do a vinegar bath after coloring the carpet.  I opted to adding the vinegar to the dye solution upon application.  This helps the color stay in the fibers better.

*If it turns out ugly, you can always throw a rug on top of it, especially if you aren't too attached to the carpet.

*Fans, lots and lots of fans to speed up the drying time, for those of us who are too impatient and can't wait to see a room put together.

Here's how I did it:

-Rit Dye (this room took 2 1/2 bottles)
-HOT water
-Thick Painters Tape
(this room looks cute and sophisticated for a little parisian girl...not an architect)

Step 1:  Clean your carpets, taking extra care to treat spots and large stains beforehand.

Step 2:  Apply painters tape to your baseboard, this is to prevent your dye from getting on it, unless you are planning on painting the trim afterwards, then skip this step.  Also, you may want to add a towel or garbage sack taped to the floor outside of the room or at the threshold so the stain doesn't carry into another space.  Thankfully mine was butted up against tile, so this was fairly easy.  I had read somewhere that you can apply mineral oil to the baseboards and the color will wipe right off, but it didn't wholly work for us.  We had to repaint the baseboards after.

Step 3:  Prepare Dye Solution.  I used Rit Liquid dye in Scarlet.  4 Ounces Rit Dye, 12 cups Hot Water, 1 Cup Vinegar.  This was poured into the large bladder of the carpet cleaner.  I had to do this 5 times, throughout the process.

Step 4:  Using the hand tool attachment on the carpet cleaner, I applied the dye in 2' lengths starting in the furthest corner from the door.  The great part about using the carpet cleaner is it scrubs it in at the same time it is sucking out the excess water.  Total time spent applying color: 2 hours.

Step 5:  Once you have completed the whole room, cover your feet in plastic sacks and do one more complete suck up of the excess water using the large carpet cleaning suction part.  I did't cover my feet and the soles of them were red for about three days.

Step 6:  Open a window, set out some fans and in two days time, run over it with your vacuum and you have new carpet!

Total cost to dye carpet:  $9

I had read on-line about other people applying the dye solution using one of those sprayers that you use in the garden to apply weed killer or tree spray and then using a scrub brush to really get it into the fibers.     Make sure you wear rubber gloves, if you choose that method!  Imagine your hands a day later...

By the way, as SOON as I was done dying the carpet, I took the carpet cleaner outside, disassembled it and cleaned the entire thing out with bleach and hot water and even ran through a couple of swipes on an old rug to make sure that no color was left in it.

UL Studios is available to accomplish all of your architectural needs!  Please contact Todd at 801-20-4928 if you have plans that need to be drawn up for a simple renovation or a large office complex.  Or come and visit at their new location, upstairs, where the sun shines and phone calls aren't dropped!


HeatherB said...

You are amazing! It looks so great!

Janel Ruzzi said...

I knew you would find a way to transform that pink carpet! It looks great!!!

Sarah said...

The office looks awesome! You are a the 21st century's Donna Reed! :) You can do it all!

Angie said...

Of course it looks awesome! You are awesome! Love it!

The Carters said...

Mel, that is amazing! It looks phenomenal!!

Heather B said...

That was fun to read and it turned out sooooo good! I know the frustration of dropped calls all too well. Yay for you and your awesomeness!

Belinda said...

that looks nice i been 3 days asking about dyeing my rug and watch videos i even rote to rit dye to ask them about it. thay told me i had to put the rug in the tub ya right it is a 12x14 so i am glad i found how u did it i have a tan rug and want to dye it rose color

Anonymous said...

How has it held up? What about if it gets wet???

Mel said...

It has held up surprisingly well. Just the other day, my two year old smashed a wad of gum into the carpet. I was worried about what that spot would look like after scraping it up. I set a bag of ice on it, scraped up the gum, and you'd never know it was there!

As for getting it wet, the color does seep onto the cloth a bit when dabbing up spills.

Unknown said...

I was just telling my husband (after viewing a possible home with faded '90's burgundy carpet) that I bet there was a way to just dye it. THIS is soooo encouraging! Does any of the color come up when you steam clean (routine cleanings)? I use homemade laundry detergent (borax, washing soda, bar of soap) to steam my carpets. It doesn't seem to cause fading in my clothes. Silly question, maybe, but why not use the large part for applying the color?

Mel said...

Belinda, I have only vacuumed the carpets and haven't steamed them yet. When I do, I will let you know how it goes! I used the small handheld portion so that I had a little more control of the coverage as well as really getting into the corners and the edges, but I bet that using the main portion would have been fine too!

Unknown said...

That would be great! That makes sense about better control. I was just thinking about the 1000+/- sq ft of solid carpet that would need dyeing... :-O Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

I love how you did that, amazing I was in the same boat, we really can't aford to buy carpet right now so I dye it hunter green, and it turn great,I. Loved reading your story. Have great day

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this about the carpet dying. I'm curious to know (now that you've had it dyed for a few months) if the color seems to be holding or if it's coming off on your socks. All the professionals are telling me that it won't work to dye my rug because it has stain guard on it that will prevent the dye from adhering to it.
Thanks in advance.

Mel said...

Gay, the color seems to have stayed true! I have even had a few spills on the carpet. The wet spots did pull up a little bit of color, but that was only apparent on the rag. Otherwise, when it is dry, our socks stay white...ish ;)

Having worked for a furniture company and using stain-guard, I will have to agree with the professionals. It might not stick. But, if the rug is one that you are going to replace soon, then I say TRY IT!!! You never know til you try.

Let me know how it goes for you if you decide to take the leap!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the information and encouragement. :)

Chris Howell said...

I give you credit for giving it a try. It's not easy for the do-it-yourselfer. I own and operate Colorful Carpets (, a carpet and rug dyeing company. That's all we do. We've been doing it for 14 years and it's not an easy task... even for the professional.

Glad it turned out well. I'm not surprised that you were experiencing dye track-off for the first few days. This occurred because you did not use acetic acid. Vinegar will help, but it's not exactly the right type of acid to use.

If you'd like to see some nice examples of carpet and rugs that have been dyed you can see lots of photos at:

I'd be happy to share advice with anyone who'd like to try doing this themselves.

Best regards,

Chris Howell
Colorful Carpets
(301) 776-2393
Clarksville, Maryland

Unknown said...

This is such a wise idea! Imagine, you don’t have to worry yourself about removing the stains and their remnants, or wishing to change the color because you can do it on your own without hurting your pocket. Nice! Thanks for these tips!

Tom Monahan

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Anonymous said...

What if u dont have a carpet cleaner?

Unknown said...

If one cannot bring the carpet back to its former glory, dying it is a great alternative. At the very least, they don’t have to worry about doing a lot of scrubbing. Anyway, you did a great job with yours! The color you chose suited well to your office. That, and it does look like it's brand new. Cheers!

Bernadette Howell @ Online Allergy Relief

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post, as I am looking to do mine next month. I'm wondering if you applied the color to wet or damp carpet or if you waited for it to dry completely before starting the dye process.

Mel said...

Shelina,I applied the color to slightly damp carpet. Anonymous, I have heard that you can use a sprayer like you use to kill weeds to help with the application, as for removing the additional water, I am not sure how you would remove it without the color looking uneven.

Over the last year, the color has bled a littl bit onto the knees of my jeans if I have been working with water on the carpet, otherwise it is still holding up well!

Betsy said...

Mel, I have just dyed my hallway carpet! Rit makes a product called Fixative. I have sprayed that on after dying and I l let it soak in for about 20 minutes. I then ran my carpet steamer over the it to suck up any last remnants of water or dye. I have let it dry with for two days with fans running. It looks wonderful and the dye does not come up at all! Thank you the instructions for posting on your blog! I don't think I would have ventured into this project otherwise!

Mel said...

Betsy, I am so excited to hear it worked so well for you and the Fixative sounds like the perfect step in "sealing" the dye. Thanks so much for sharing with me!!!

Unknown said...

I know this is an old post but first wanted to say how awesome this looks. Second, I have a question. I have a very huge cream colored 100% looped wool rug that is maybe a little less than a decade old but very very costly. I am interested in dying it blue for our living space but don't know how to go about doing so without pulling the wool out of the loops. Do you have any suggestions or ideas as how to go about doing this. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated thanks!

Unknown said...

Sorry, forgot to mention that this is an area rug.

Unknown said...

I know this is an old post but first wanted to say how awesome this looks. Second, I have a question. I have a very huge cream colored 100% looped wool rug that is maybe a little less than a decade old but very very costly. I am interested in dying it blue for our living space but don't know how to go about doing so without pulling the wool out of the loops. Do you have any suggestions or ideas as how to go about doing this. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated thanks!

Mel said...


Thank you so much for your kind comment! I was a little on the gutsy side and just dove in, mostly because I wasn't in love with the carpet and if all else failed, I was ready to replace it ;)

I myself would be a little leary to dye a rug if the cost you put into it would break your heart if it didn't work out. If you are in for an experiment, I'd say dive in, try it, and let me know if it works out!!!

Maybe you could try calling Chris Howell (he made a comment above) and he could give you a better idea on what to do, since he is the pro..and I am just an experimenter.

Please, please, please share a picture if you go through with it! Blue is one of my favorite colors to design with.

Unknown said...

Thanks to the writer of this article. I appreciate your effort in making this informational blogs. I know it's not easy to do this but you have done a really great job. I'm pretty sure your readers enjoying it a lots.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel, I am going to be diving into a Rit dye job in my rv this weekend. I was pretty sure it could be done, but your article proved it. I have also heard salt works wonders for setting the dye.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel, I was doing some research on carpet dying, and came across your article. Excellent idea you had there. One question though, how buq was the carpet you dyed? I wanted to do our basement carpet using this method, however I wasn't sure of how many bottles of dye I would need.

Mel said...

@Anonymous, the room that the carpet was in is rather small. It is only 9'x10'. You'll be needing a few bottles of dye ;) I wish you the best of luck on your adventure!

Lorraine Girald said...

Hello, I have a fairy new beige carpet. My son moved back in with us and brought his 130 lb dog. I am fighting a losing battle trying to spot clean tiny dirt marks due to his paws. Instead of dyeing the entire carpet I was wondering if I could give it a multi-tone look by using a spong. Any thoughts on this? Thanks, Lorraine

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Unknown said...

Super nice!

رجب البرنس said...

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم نحن فى شركة الكمال تقوم بافضل انواع التنظيف العام وتنظيف الفلل بافضل انواع العالميه التى تحافظ على السيراميك
شركة تنظيف منازل بحائل
شركة تنظيف بالطائف
شركة تنظيف بجازان
شركة تنظيف بحائل
شركة تنظيف مجالس وكنب بحائل
ونحن فى خدماتكم اربعه وعشرون ساعه وكل هذا بافضل الاسعار واقل التكلفة

Unknown said...

Betsy is it still holding up and can you use your carpet cleaner on it?

Unknown said...

Chris I would love some tips. I need to be able to use my carpet shampooer because I have pets and grandchildren. Wood fixative in the RIT help? Thanks

Unknown said...

How big was the room you dyed?

Nugeni Steampac+ Steamer said...

Your article is very helpful for me, I will follow your instruction. Thank you.

CarpetDyer said...

I wouldn’t recommend using Rit dyes. They are designed for dyeing cotton, not carpet. Tit dyes are REACTIVE dyes. Carpet dyes are acid dyes.

Here’s a link for carpet dyes: