How can I dye an area rug?
Message: How can I dye an area rug? It's off white, and I want it to be black. I don't want to get a professional to do it because of the expense. Can I use fabric dye?
What fiber is the rug made from? You must match the type of dye you use to the fiber content of the rug, or else the dye will just come right back out. You will have a horrible mess on your hands, with dye permanently staining the floor under the rug, if you use the wrong type of dye.
With all kinds of dye, you must take the rug outside and rinse it out very thoroughly after you dye it, or else excess unattached dye will permanently stain the floor under the rug, as well as your shoes.
If your rug is made from polypropylene, you won't be able to dye it. Polypropylene must be dyed while it is still liquid, before it is made into thread. The upside is that polypropylene is also very hard to get dirty.
If your rug is made from cotton, you can dye it easily with fiber reactive dyes, such as the Procion dyes found in any good tie-dye kit or in the Tulip One Step Fashion dye in the local crafts store. These dyes can be used at room temperature, so there's no need to cook the rug, a major advantage if it's any size at all. You can take the rug outside to apply the dye, then hose it out very thoroughly after dyeing is complete, to remove the unattached excess dye.
If your rug is made from wool, silk, or nylon, you can dye it with acid dyes. A huge problem is the fact that acid dyes require heating in order to bond to the fiber. Do you have a cooking pot large enough to boil your rug in the dye? It's unlikely, and if you used it for dyeing, you'd never be able to cook with that pot again, because fabric dyes will contaminate food. Dyeing a large area rug with any sort of hot water dye is completely impractical unless you're a professional who can invest in the right equipment.
If your rug is made of polyester, it requires still another type of dye. Polyester can be dyed only with a special polyester dye called disperse dye. It requires higher heat and more boiling than nylon does, so it's more of a problem to dye. Again you'd need a huge cooking pot, large enough to submerge the rug in the dye. You cannot dye polyester at any temperature below boiling; the dye will just rub off.
As an alternative, you can use fabric paint to change the color of all natural and most synthetic fibers, instead of dye. (It won't stick to polypropylene.) However, fabric paint will not make a perfectly smooth solid color. In addition, fabric paint wears off quickly with heavy use, unlike dye.
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Posted: Tuesday - September 23, 2008 at 11:00 PM