The tan carpet in #216 was shot.
It was hopeless.
A new carpet was needed.
That meant pulling up the old one, scraping off the pad, and then calling the carpet man and shelling out $1000 or more.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
The carpet had served well.
But, upon closer examination, I decided it wasn’t really in that bad of shape.
It didn’t have frayed edges, or worn down spots, and the nap was still pretty good. It just looked terrible. Bleach spots, stains, dark trails down the hallway and into the living room, and light spots where the sun had hit it on a daily basis through the windows.
No one would rent the apartment with a carpet in that condition.
I steam cleaned it in hopes that it would be miraculously healed.
No such luck.
Then it hit me.
Why not try dyeing the bleached out spots to blend in with the carpet.
I purchased an 8 ounce bottle of RIT tan dye (the kind you use for dyeing clothes) at the drug store for $4, mixed a little in a spray bottle with steaming hot water, shook it up and sprayed the spots.
They came out a brassy brown, nothing like the color of the existing carpet.
I had the carpet professionally steam cleaned. Surely they could perform a miracle.
But I noticed that my dyeing job over the bleached out spots had maintained its original color.
Then it occurred to me, why not try dyeing the entire carpet to match the spots I had sprayed?
Two pictures came to mind on how I might do this.
I could mix the dye with hot water in my little steam cleaner (one like you would rent at the market) or I could use a pump up garden sprayer. I decided on the sprayer because the tenant below had suffered through enough steam cleaning noise.
I purchased an ACE Sprayer for $24.
I mixed 8 tablespoons of dye into the 2 quarts of steaming hot water in the sprayer, screwed in the pump, shook up the contents and pumped it up.
I placed four 1″x 6″ x 3′ pieces of wood along the edges of the walls so as not to get dye on the white paint. I adjusted the nozzle on the sprayer to a fine spray and began.
I moved the boards as I dyed, but after a while as I became familiar with the sprayer, I didn’t really need them.
Also, after dyeing a section, and before reloading the sprayer, I used my little Bissell carpet sweeper to even out the areas I had sprayed and work the dye into the carpet.
But still, the bleached out spots didn’t match the overall carpet color after I finished dyeing.
So the next day I applied another coat.
Better, but still not good enough.
Then I went back to the store for more dye, but they didn’t have anymore tan. I went to three other stores, but no tan.
So, I bought RIT’s dark brown dye.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I put 4 tablespoons of this darker dye into my 2 quarts of steaming hot water, pumped up the sprayer and applied another coat.
That’s when the magic began to happen.
The darker brown really kicked in.
The trails down the hallway disappeared, as did the light spots under the windows.
The carpet started to look like a real carpet again, but the bleached out spots still dyed a slightly darker shade than the rest of the carpet.
To compensate for this I dyed other parts of the carpet darker by spraying more dye on them, and continued using my carpet sweeper to even out the dye and work it into the nap. My goal was to blend everything together.
It worked… somewhat.
I applied two coats of the dark brown dye, about $12 worth of dye, over a 700 square foot area.
It was easy, and fun to do.
By the time I applied the second coat the carpet looked almost new.
Because I’ve obsessed over the bleached out stains in the carpet I can still find some of them, but not all. There is a slight darkening in the carpet where they once existed, but when a potential tenant came through to rent the apartment, and I explained to her what I had done, she glanced at it, said it looked fine, and went to look at the kitchen.
My daughter and my neighbor also viewed the carpet and both stated it looked great, better than their own carpets.
But I know it’s not perfect. It went from a D- or F to a C+/ B- or maybe even a B, and those grades really depend on what angle you look at the carpet from.
My father mentioned that the dye might be toxic.
I hadn’t thought of that. I figured if you could dye your clothes with it you could certainly do a carpet.
But to be safe I called RIT, the makers of the dye, and their representative assured me that all their dyes are non-toxic, but that they don’t recommend using them on carpets because some of their customers have called and said the dye rubs off over time.
I went back up to #216, soaked a rag with steaming hot water, and tried to rub off the dye in several spots.
Maybe in time the dye will wear off in well traveled areas.
I’m not sure.
Time will tell.
But if it does wear off, and the carpet is still usable, why not dye those areas again, like repainting walls, or staining wood doors and trim that experience wear and tear?
P.S. My daughter suggested that I include this following idea: Why not cut out a stencil of your favorite design, say a star or elephant, place it over the stain or bleached out spot, and then spray the dye into the stencil. A lot easier than dyeing the entire carpet!
Just a thought.