Carpet Dyeing 101: Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Carpet Dyeing

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated November 8, 2021
beige and grey living room
Aleksandra Zlatkovic / iStock via Getty Images

How to win the war against carpet stains (or simply give a room a new look)

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Whether your living room carpet is starting to look a little drab or it's been marred by stains from this past summer’s big soiree (mustard and red wine?!), you may want to consider carpet dyeing as a way to revive your carpet’s appearance and cover up those eyesores. Here are all the details you need to know before you decide whether or not to dye your carpet.

Why Dye Your Carpet?

You may already have a reason in mind as to why you wish to dye your carpet a new color, but here’s a few more to consider:

  • Save money: Carpet dyeing is much more affordable than installing new carpet, costing only about a third of a new install ($586 vs. $1,683).

  • Cover unsightly stains: No matter how many times you get your carpet cleaned, some stubborn stains might refuse to budge. You might also have a very large and very noticeable stain that you want to cover up.

  • The original color is fading: The sun pouring into your living room may be a boon to your potted plants but could be fading or bleaching the original color of your carpet.

  • You’re about to sell your house: Since a dye job can cover stains and refresh a room, it is a good choice if you’re getting ready to sell your home and want it to be show-ready—especially if you need a quick turn-around or on a tight budget.

  • Your carpet is young: A good-quality carpet should last 10 to 15 years, so if your carpet is relatively new but the victim of a bad stain, a dye job is a way to give it new life without pulling it out.

  • You’re redecorating: You watched Marie Kondo’s show and decided what sparks joy: an entirely new color scheme for your living room. But if the carpet doesn’t work with your interior design dream, dye it for a fresh start!

The 411 On Carpet Dyeing

white and grey carpeted living room
John Keeble/ Moment via Getty Images

Here’s everything you need to keep in mind before you pick out your carpet’s new color, learn how to dye your carpets, and start pulling furniture out of the living room.

You Can’t Use Just Any Dye

You may have bottles of indigo dye left over from last year’s shibori experiment, but don’t jump to dye your carpet blue with it—carpet dyes are specially formulated acid dyes that must be kept hot. You should only work with a small amount of dye at a time to keep it at a high temperature and maximize its effectiveness.

You’ll Need to Clean First

You should not dye a dirty carpet, so either have a professional carpet cleaning service do the task for you or tackle the vacuuming yourself. After hoovering up any dirt, shampoo the carpet using a carpet cleaner. Wait a full day for it to dry before proceeding with the dye job.

Expect The Room to Be Out of Commission

Before dyeing your carpet, you should move all the furniture out of the room. In addition, if you have baseboards, remove them as well (gently, using a pry bar)  to prevent them from being dyed the same color as the carpet. If you do not have baseboards, make sure to cover the edges of the walls, so they are protected from overspray. Once the dye has been applied, you’ll need to wait 24 hours for it to dry before replacing the baseboards and furniture.

Not All Types of Carpet Can Be Dyed

Only carpet made from wool, silk, or nylon fibers can be dyed. In addition, carpets that are stain-resistant or very thick are not good candidates for dyeing. If you don’t know what material your carpet is made out of, you can test it by burning a small sample (be careful!). If it burns slowly, smells like burning hair, and leaves a dark ash, it is wool. Nylon melts when lit and leaves a lighter-colored, hard, plastic-like bead. It may also smell like celery (weird, we know). If you still aren’t sure, a carpet dyeing professional can tell you what material you’re working with.

You Can’t Choose Just Any Color

To dye your carpet, you’ll have to select a color that is one shade (or more) darker than the carpet’s original color. The new color should also be darker than any stains, so if you’re trying to mask a red wine spill from the holiday party, you’ll need to choose something darker than merlot.

Follow the Instructions

As we noted, you should only be working with dyes specifically made to color carpets. These dyes will have very specific instructions to ensure a perfect dye job. They might, for instance, suggest that you test the dye in an inconspicuous corner of the room so you can see how your carpet reacts and if the color is the right one. In addition, they will include mixing instructions—most carpet dyes have two components that need to be mixed together, with the addition of hot water.

Expect It To Last a Year

A dye job will last about a year, with the color starting to fade a little after a few months. Some people opt to have their carpet cleaned and dyed once every year to maintain its look and extend its life.

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