Hot Topics: Should You Dye Your Old, Dingy Carpet?

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Hoping to save money on new carpets by dyeing your old ones? Think again. This plan might not work out like you think...

Original Post: Is Carpet Dye Save and Effective?

patchtaper Member


Hello all,

I'm considering extending the life of my home's stained carpet. Rather than replace it, I thought I'd save money by just cleaning it and dyeing it a dark color (to make the black/brown stains less noticeable).

Some online sources suggest that the dye can rub off onto clothing that comes in contact with it. But I wonder whether that is true of the most modern dyes, or whether that was a problem only in years past.

Have you tried dyeing carpet recently? How did that go?

Thanks to everyone for reading this and sharing experiences.

Highlights from the Thread

sam floor Forum Topic Moderator

What kind of yarn is it? Some cannot be dyed at all, especially olefin.

I have seen pros dye some that worked well. I have also seen pros and amateurs dye some that were not so good. And yes, I have tried to restretch some after they were dyed and the dye came off on my knees.

Tom Garrett Member

I used to work for a carpet cleaning company that would offer dyeing services. Now that I have my own carpet cleaning company, I do not.

Reason for this is the amount of complaints that we got; it's a tricky business. Certain types of carpet cannot be dyed; the easiest way to tell is to get a fiber and burn it. Only wool and nylon can be dyed. When you burn wool, it will smell like you're burning hair and will make a dark ash. Nylon will melt and harden when cooled (just like nylon rope).

I have seen some really bad carpets come back to life by having the proper cleaning technique applied.

discinque Member

This is a late response, but might be helpful to others who have a similar question. As others have said, yes - nylon fiber can be dyed. It IS safe, but I seriously doubt it's very permanent, nor attractive. Much of the success I would guess, would depend on the age and use of the carpet. During the dying process at the mill, the dye is applied with an acid solution (which is safe - a mild acid with a higher pH than a lemon for instance) and heat. The heat is the part that is hard to replicate in the field.

I used to do repairs in the field for a defect called "sidematch" where the colors varied at a seam. I would apply a very small amount of dye, and use a wallpaper steamer to help set the dye. I doubt they would do that as an overall process in dyeing. And after setting the dye, the area would need to be rinsed several times to remove stray dye.

But the main issue I would see - would be the traffic lanes. Nylon fiber has dye sites - areas where the dye attaches to the fiber. As you traffic the carpet, the abrasion on the fiber creates more and more of these dye site - so dye applied in those areas would absorb FAR more dye than in the non-trafficked areas.

As mentioned above, a good cleaning can do wonders. Find someone who has some certification in steam cleaning (the one method recommended by all carpet manufacturers) and have that done.

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