DIY- Overdyed Rug


Have you seen the overdyed rugs currently flooding the home decor market?  It’s hard to resist the bright, saturated colors and unique character of these rugs!   Several years ago, I was given a 50 year-old wool rug with a traditional oriental design, but the old-school navy blue & maroon color scheme just wasn’t doing anything for me.

I needed something fresh and new, but I wasn’t ready to buy a new rug — And that’s how I decided to try a DIY approach to overdying my rug.


***A note of caution: the dyes and chemicals below can be harmful and you should only perform the following steps in a well-ventilated area while wearing a respirator.


Supplies you’ll need:

1. A 100% wool rug.

2. Long rubber gloves and a respirator.

3. For Rugs 6ft x 9ft or smaller,  buy the largest plastic storage bin you can find.  If your rug is larger, you’ll probably need something much bigger.  For my 9ft x 12ft rug, I used a collapsible pool from Home Depot.

4. A bucket heater (to keep the dying solution warm).  Jon-Don Chemical supply is a great source.

5. Thiox and Soda Ash from Pro Chemical.  This if for bleaching your rug.  How much you need to use depends on the amount of wool in your rug.  As a rule of thumb, you will need 10grams of thiox and 10grams of soda ash in 10L of water for each pound of wool.  However, if you rug is dark (like mine) you may need up to twice as much to remove enough of the original color.   More detailed instructions on these products can be found here.

6. Acid Dye and Citric Acid from Dharma Trading Company.  Again, the amount you need depends on how much wool you are dying.  I used 3tsp of “Brilliant Yellow” dye and 1tsp of citric acid per pound of wool and got a good result.

7. Synthrapol (a detergent) from Dharma Trading Company.  Follow the directions on the bottle for how much to use based on the volume of solution.


Here’s what to do:

1. Fill container with water, soak and rinse your rug.  Then drain water.

2. Fill container with clean water and synthrapol detergent.  Move the rug around to wash it.

3. Rinse the rug again.  Put it aside.

4. Fill container with water again, and using the bucket heater, warm water to 130-140 degrees, or as hot as you can get it.

5.  Add Thiox, Soda Ash, and rug to the container.  Agitate thoroughly for up to 30 minutes.  You’ll see the dye begin to come out of the rug and into the water.

6.Let the solution work for about 30 minutes, then add more Thiox and Soda Ash as needed.  Soak for another 30 minutes or longer until much of the color from the rug is gone.  The rug will never bleach completely, but that’s OK.  The underlying design will remain an interesting part of your rug.

6. Rinse the rug in water.  This is how mine looked at this stage:

7. Repeat the above steps, but use your Acid Dye and Citric Acid instead of Thiox and Soda Ash.  It is a good idea to first mix the dye in a separate container with a gallon of boiling water before adding to your rug.  The dying solution should be kept as warm as possible with the bucket heater — but make sure not to leave the bucket heater unattended at any time.  You can let the rug sit in the dye solution overnight for the most brilliant color.  You can also add salt, which some say helps to exhaust the dye solution.

8. Drain the rug, then wash with Synthrapol.

9. Rinse the rug thoroughly to remove all excess dye.  You may need to wash with Synthrapol a second time.

10.  Hang the rug to dry.

11. Enjoy your new rug!!


After two days of hard work and about $175 in supplies, your rug will have a new look that you’ll enjoy for years to come!

Let us know how your DIY overdye rug turns out in the comments section below.


Good Luck!



image 1: lahidesign.com

image 2: pinterest.com

all other images by Design Lines Ltd.

15 thoughts on “DIY- Overdyed Rug”

  1. These instructions are great, thank you!!
    How should I dispose of the thiox/soda ash dye/citric acid water? I’m assuming that if I need a respirator to work with them, I shouldn’t just dump them in the backyard?

  2. Great Question Susan! You should always use protective clothing, gloves, eye protection, and a respirator when dying your rug. For specific information about proper disposal of the chemicals, you can refer to the Material Safety Sheet for each product.

    Material safety sheets for all of the chemicals can be found at the following link: http://www.prochemicalanddye.com/home.php?cat=417

  3. This is by far the best tutorial I’ve found on overdying rugs and I’ve scoured the internet. Thank you!

  4. I have a narrow, long carpet. Is doing this is a bathtub a bad idea? Will it stain during the bleaching?

  5. I’m not sure how it would work in a bathtub, because I don’t have experience with doing it that way. I don’t think that the bleaching process will cause staining, because it has no color, but the dye may stain.

  6. I read your directions for overdyed rugs with great interest as I’m considering doing one. If I do, it will be to get the bright red with dark red effect of many Afghan rugs. Since this is a darker effect, do you think it’s still necessary to bleach the rug? If so, would one soaking in bleach be enough? If I do this it will be because the Afghan Kazak rug I want to use to reupholster a fainting couch is too heavy to be workable. Any experience with doing this? I have a sort of tapestry that has a rug pattern but is a lighter weight fabric though still with pile. I was going to use that but the maroon/navy/cream pattern looks blotchy on the couch compared to the more monochromatic though still patterned Afghan rug.
    By the way, I think the bright yellow rug you did is pretty sharp.

  7. Even though you’re working with a dark color, I would still recommend bleaching the rug before you dye it. That is the only way to get the vibrant, saturated hues that make overdyed rugs so appealing. One soaking in the bleach solution should be enough, provided you use the right amount for the weight of fiber. Follow the link to Dharma trading company, where you can find the amounts of Thiox and other chemicals you’ll need to buy based on the weight of your rug. Remember, the bleach solution is not chlorine bleach, but is made of Thiox, a chemical that bleaches wool. Regular Chlorine bleach will not work, and will damage your rug.

    If you decide not to bleach your rug before dying, you’ll still have to wash it thoroughly to make sure the dye will stick. Use a low foaming detergent as recommended in my blog post (also available from Dharma).

    Good luck with your project! Let us know how it turns out!


  8. Don’t know if the disposal question got dodged intentionally or not, so thought I’d second the question. You said you used a collapsible pool for your big rug. How did you drain or syphon the various baths out of there each time? and, into what? I am dying to try this, and your instructions are helpful. I just can’t wrap my mind around how to deal with the volumes of possibly toxic liquid while it gets from point A to point B, not to mention the heavy, wet rug. (the one I want to do is 8 x 10.) Thanks in advance!

  9. I was wondering how much Thiox and Soda Ash you used? I want to do this on a similar rug that is an 8’x10′, but don’t know how much it weighs. Same with how much dye and citric acid? Thanks!

  10. Hello! I just purchased a rug with the intent of having it overdyed / or doing it myself. I too am in Raleigh and was wondering if you knew of anyone local that is doing this – or if it is still a DIY job… I’m good at projects but I’m not sure I’m THAT good!

    Thank you,

  11. I’m not sure if there’s anyone who does this kind of thing locally, but you may have some luck contacting Nomadic Trading Company in Durham. They have a large selection of overdyed rug and they may have information for you.

    Thanks for your comment!


  12. Do you think that a cotton/wool blend rug would dye well or that it would be worth the time and effort? (Fairly light in color to start with.)

  13. Hey, thank you so much for the post, it was the best on the subject and it seems extremely helpful.I have a huge old Persian wool rug, with the typical- blue,beige and red colour patterns and I am thinking of overdyeing it in a super dark colour-like navy blue, or grey or even black, but I still would like the pattern to show… do you have any advice for me, should I still bleach it? thanks 🙂

  14. I know this is an old post but I’m hoping I’ll still get a response. I was wondering what exact amounts of the products you used as I am currently trying to purchase the stuff to over dye a similar sized rug. Thanks!

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