Dave Stribling
July 17, 2017

So you are just getting tired of looking at that old, faded carpet in your Mustang, but you don’t want to pony up for new carpet because other than the fading or stains, it really isn’t in that bad of condition. All the guys on the blogs tell you to just dye it, but where do you start? Here’s a little primer for bringing your carpet back to new and saving you some coin.

First, remember that the dying process is a hot process to be most effective. Second, “dye” means permanent so it is best to do it out of the car so you don’t accidentally dye something you don’t want to (personal experience here). It also makes it easier to get the carpet really clean before applying the dye. Wear gloves and appropriate safety gear so you don’t end up matching your interior. Here’s how to get the best results for your carpet.

1. Our 1966 convertible carpet suffered from sun fading and some years of dirt buildup, but was otherwise in very good shape. It isn’t hard to get the carpet out, but do plan on having your car down for a week to allow proper drying between steps.

2. A thorough vacuuming is required before any other work should start.

3. We took our carpet set to the local car wash and used the tire cleaner setting on it. The tire cleaner has degreasers in it and really gets out the grease and road oils that get ground into the carpet from the bottom of your shoes. You can pre-check the detergent on an unsuspecting part before committing to the whole carpet. Rinse thoroughly, and if you have a place to hang it and let it drip dry, let it dry overnight.

4. Just a scrubbing at the car wash made a huge difference, especially in the driver’s toe board area.

5. There were two shades of red available for our project, so we bought both and checked which one was closer with cheap shop rags. Remember, the more dye you apply the darker the results. Also, depending on the material makeup of your carpet (rayon/nylon etc.) you may need to add vinegar or salt to the solution, but most cases won’t require it. The dye on the right ended up being the best match to our carpet.

6. The dye is designed for bulk/dip applications, and not for spraying on. We used approximately 20 ounces of hot water to 1 ounce of dye. Hot water may make your plastic spray bottle expand or ruin it, so we recommend a cheap throw away spray bottle. Spray or blot the solution onto the carpet, using a sponge to work the solution into and under the loop pile. It may require several applications to get the matching color.

7. Once the dye is completely dry, go back over it with a wet cloth or sponge and blot out any color that didn’t set. Blot until your rag or sponge is clean and then blot dry. This keeps your personal items from wearing your carpet shade.

8. Our dried and finished carpet is ready to go back in the car. Doing this yourself can save you a lot of money over a new carpet set.