Design Files

Give an Old Rug New Life with Fabric Dye

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso
Image: Overstock

Do you have a faded rug that needs a facelift? Did you know you can add a translucent layer of dye to add vibrant color or refresh existing hues? After all, our rugs are old and new deserve more credit than they get. They add comfort, style, and dimension to a space, but sometimes go unnoticed and get walked all over (pun intended). As we’ve pointed out in the past, cheap area rugs are hard to come by, but the good news is that you have multiple decorating options. A quick flip through design magazines or scroll through Pinterest and you’ll see overdyed rugs everywhere, and they are not cheap to purchase. Luckily for us DIY folk, this a project we can easily get done for a fraction of the retail price. To help you figure out if you’d rather buy a trendy mat or makeover one yourself, we’ve included retail options and steps to DIY an overdyed rug below:

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To Buy or Not to Buy

Dying rugs can get messy, but if you’re lucky enough to have one on hand or thrift one for cheap, it just may be worth the small hassle. These saturated rugs are stunning and found at popular decor sites, but we’ll warn you, their price tags are hefty. 


Persian Design Floral Purple Overdyed Hand Knotted Wool Area Rug, Houzz, $1,526.50

6 X 9 Full Pile Wool Persian Suzani Overdyed Area Rug, Manhattan Rugs, $1,658

Caspian Rug, Overdyed Green, West Elm, $1,299




If you’d prefer to take matters into your own hands, here’s instructions on how to dye an area rug from Rit. The difficulty level in intermediate and the project will take 1-2 days. Here’s what you’ll need:

+ Area rug

+ All-purpose liquid dye

+ Preval sprayer or paint sprayer

+ Garden hose for water



Prep Rug

1. Clean your rug. Vacuum any dirt or dust and spot clean or shampoo if necessary. (Note: because the rug used in this example is a wool blend made with synthetics, it will not absorb as much color as an all-wool or natural rug)

Bring It Outside + Pre-Wet

2. Bring the rug outdoors in direct sunlight; lay on grass or tarp

3. Thoroughly wet the rug

Mix the Dye

4. Make dye solution and apply with paint sprayer. Mix 1/4 bottle of all-purpose liquid dye (Rit Aquamarine was used here) with a full jar of hot water and saturate the rug. Keep refilling and applying until the full bottle of liquid dye has been used

5. Once the rug has been fully saturated with dye, let it dry out in the sun for about an hour

Lock In Color

6. Apply ColorStay Dye with paint sprayer to seal the color and then let the rug dry outdoors completely (can take up to two days)

All Set!

(Tutorial images via Rit)

Dani Caruso
Dani Caruso By Dani Caruso
Dani is House One’s assistant editor. As a Norwalk, CT native, Dani graduated from UConn with a BA in Digital Media and Design. This millennial longs for the days of All That, Tamagotchis, and Dunkaroos. When she’s not working, she’s hanging outdoors, playing with her dogs, or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

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