How to Dye Car Carpet Floor Mats (Easy Steps)

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Green car floor mats isolated against a white background

Time takes its toll on everything: people, pets, homes, cars. Even with all of the regular maintenance that goes into maintaining that all-too-important set of wheels, time is going to take its toll. Parts start needing to be replaced, scratches and dents need to be taken care of, and that grungy old carpet could use a facelift.

Even if it isn’t old enough to lose some of its shine, dyeing a car’s carpets can also help let it match other aspects of the car or just offer a bit of customization. It’s also significantly cheaper in most instances than just replacing the carpet. Keep reading for more information on dyeing car carpets.

Things to Remember Before Dyeing a Car Carpet Floor Mat

There are multiple ways to dye a car carpet, but there are some things that need to be remembered prior to doing so in order to protect everyone and everything involved regardless of the method chosen.

Here are some of those universal tips to remember:

  • Dye in a well-ventilated area
  • Clean and dry the carpet(s) thoroughly prior to dyeing
  • Go a tone darker than the original to enhance the color
  • Dyeing darker is okay, lighter is not
  • Older and damaged carpets won’t take as well
  • No matter the method, it will take a lot of time and effort
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator if the method suggests
  • Read any instructions thoroughly

No matter the method, it’s going to take a significant amount of time and effort in order to get them looking as good as they can. Be patient no matter what method is chosen, and the best results are sure to come.

Dyeing Car Carpet Floor Mats With a Kit

Many auto shops sell car detailing kits, and that includes those for dyeing carpets. This is a labor-intensive method of refreshing car carpets, but it also is far cheaper than going to a professional detailer. It’s a good way to get out stains, revitalize the car interior, and bring back a little bit of that new car smell and feel. When using a kit, it should also be good for cleaning down the line without risking the loss of color for years to come.

Cleaning the Carpet

The first thing is the carpet needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Get the carpets professionally cleaned, rent a wet shop vac, or even just put in a lot of elbow grease to get out as much dirt and grime as possible. Get it as clean as possible. When using a kit, there usually is a stain remover to help scrub out as much of the stains as possible with the use of a wet cloth. The cleaner the carpet is, the neater the dye job will be. Allow the carpet to dry entirely before continuing.

Preparing the Dye

Kits come with instructions for a reason. Don’t try to eyeball or skip reading them, especially when it comes to preparing the dyes. These come in a concentrate and have a specific volume of water they need to be mixed with. Too much water can make for thin dye whereas too little can damage the carpet.

Mix the dye according to the instructions and put the mixture into a spray bottle. Most kits come with one but use whatever is most comfortable and easiest to get an even spray over the entire carpet. Chances are that the kit will ask for the carpets to be removed before using the dye, but even if they don’t, it helps make a better dye job and not get on the rest of the interior.

Automotive Carpet Dye Kit – Navy Blue

Automotive Carpet Dye Kit - Navy Blue
Automotive Carpet Dye Kit – Navy Blue

Working in the Dye

Simply spraying on the dye is not enough to get it to soak entirely into the fibers. Take a brush, either the one that comes with a kit or one more comfortable to hold, and scrub in the dye. This helps ensure an even and full coating of the dye all the way down to the base. Using gloves here is strongly recommended. Once it is good and covered, allow it to dry entirely.

Replace the Carpet

If the carpet was taken out in order to dye it, now it’s time to put it back. If there’s still a bit of a smell from the dye, allow it to air out a little bit more before replacing it. Some kits and products are out there to help with the smell as well, but usually, it’s no worse than that new car smell.

Dyeing Car Carpet Floor Mats Without a Kit

Dyeing a carpet without a kit is almost identical to dyeing with a kit. The only difference is that the kits have all the tools and specifications in them that make them attractive to people needing just a quick job. However, these kits don’t usually come in boutique colors for dyeing a light carpet something that isn’t black.

Gather Supplies

Since there isn’t a kit around to have all of the supplies in one space, these are going to need to be gathered up individually. Thankfully, there isn’t actually a lot that’s needed to do it without a kit.

Here are the supplies needed:

  • Automotive carpet cleaner
  • Stain remover
  • Industrial-strength dye
  • Gloves
  • Brush
  • Carpet coating

Additionally, be sure to read the requirements on all of these in case they need or recommend the use of additional supplies. This usually looks like protective eyewear or a large container to soak the carpets in.

Car interior detailing and cleaning tools

Cleaning the Carpet

Take those carpet cleaners and stain removers and go to town scrubbing the carpet. Get it vacuumed, shampooed, conditioned, and whatever else desired to get it as clean as possible. Consider even steam-cleaning the carpets in order to achieve an even deeper clean.

Apply stain removers to any of the worst discolored spots. Scrub and clean again if needed at this point. Then, allow the carpet to dry completely.

Pressure washing the car carpet floor mats mounted on the wall

Dyeing the Carpet

It’s usually advised to take a small portion of the carpet, typically what’s underneath a seat or something that won’t be seen, and do a test dye there. It helps to see how well the carpet is going to take the dye, especially if the dye isn’t strictly marketed for automotive carpets.

From here, follow the instructions for the dye. Most come in a spray form which should be sprayed in generous amounts evenly across the carpets. Work the dye into the carpet well with a scrub brush and wipe off any excess with a damp towel. This helps to ensure a nice, even color coating. Allow the carpet to dry thoroughly.

Dupli-Color EHVP11200 Medium Blue High-Performance Vinyl and Fabric Spray – 11 oz.

Dupli-Color EHVP11200 Medium Blue High Performance Vinyl and Fabric Spray - 11 oz.
Dupli-Color Medium Blue Vinyl and Fabric Spray – 11 oz.

Finishing Up

Some carpet coatings can be done along with dyeing, others need to wait until the end or for routine maintenance. Be sure to follow all of the directions that come with it. For those that do need to wait until the end, apply the coating now. Then, reinstall the carpet and enjoy.

Carpet coatings can also sometimes be used to maintain the beauty of the carpet after cleaning to prolong the carpeting. It’s a good idea to keep up with both, especially in the front seats where there’s a lot of wear and tear.

Dyeing Car Carpet Floor Mats with Aerosol Dye

Aerosol dyes have many uses. They’re good for dyeing just about every piece of the interior of the car with the intention of covering up spots and stains that can’t be gotten out. They’re not great for dyeing the whole carpet, but they are nice for areas that can be seen and when pulling out the carpet isn’t really much of an option. Using it on the whole carpet will make it slightly stiffer than it was originally and make it not fit back in quite right.

Color Matching

Most places that sell aerosol carpet dyes will have a color chart that will help to select the best color possible for color matching. If using the dye to change colors, try to only do a tone or so difference rather than a drastic change so that it’s less noticeable on the spots that are left untouched.

Cleaning the Carpet

Be sure to clean the carpet thoroughly before dyeing it. Even if just spot treating with the aerosol dye, clean out further than expected so that it can be well blended in with the surrounding carpet fibers. Also, be sure that it is completely dry before starting to dye the carpet.

Hi-Tech Desert Vinyl Plastic & Carpet Aerosol Dye

Hi-Tech Desert Vinyl Plastic & Carpet Aerosol Dye
Carpet Aerosol Dye – Desert Color

Preparing the Dye

Shake the can for approximately two minutes, or until the ball inside moves freely in order to get it well mixed in there. Perform a test spray on something that isn’t the carpet first before moving over to the actual carpet just in case it doesn’t spray evenly with the first go.

Dyeing the Carpet

Hold the can approximately six inches away from the intended dye spot and spray in tiny puffs in order to blend in the dye well. Feel free to use a brush to blend in further or to keep the fibers from sticking to one another. From there, follow any clean-up instructions on the can.

Dyeing Car Carpet Floor Mat with RIT Dye

Using RIT Dye is an extremely budget-friendly method of dyeing a car carpet. RIT Dye is available at many big named retailers and is meant for dyeing fabrics. It doesn’t rub off, it gets the fibers all soft, and restores a lot of the color with ease. In the end, it can even help make the carpet look and feel fresh and new. It also works on fabric seats!

Cleaning the Carpet

Cleaning the carpet is critical in getting an even-dye job. Clean it as thoroughly as possible and ensure that there is little to no residue remaining. When using RIT Dye to dye the carpet, it doesn’t necessarily need to be totally dry either unless the cleaning product recommends it. This is because it’s going to just be soaked in water again anyway and will be sitting there for a long time. Just don’t put it into the dye mixture sopping wet or it could mess up the concentration.

Preparing the Carpet

If the carpet wasn’t removed for cleaning, now is the time to do it. Double-check that it actually is clean, especially if it wasn’t removed before. Remove any soundproofing from the underside of the carpet and keep it out of the way. Only the carpet is going to need to be dyed, nothing else. It also doesn’t hurt to run a steam cleaner over it to get out the last of the grime from deep within the fibers.

Preparing the Dye

Fill a large tub, bin, or clean garbage bin full of warm to hot water. Cool water from a garden hose works too, but not quite as effectively, and the box recommends hot water anyway. Mix the dye in with the water as well as possible, otherwise, the carpet at the bottom of the container will end up darker than what’s up top.

It takes approximately 15 boxes of RIT Dye to dye carpet in a car, with larger areas and more drastic changes requiring even more dye. It’s also not recommended to use the bin for anything but dyeing the same or similar colors, as some residue will be left over in the end which can change the end result for future dye jobs.

Rit Purpose Liquid Dye, 8 Oz, Royal Blue

Rit Purpose Liquid Dye, 8 Oz, Royal Blue
Rit Purpose Liquid Dye, 8 Oz, Royal Blue

Dyeing the Carpet

While wearing gloves, insert chunks of the carpet into the dye one at a time. Ensure that the carpet is completely submerged in the water unless for some reason a more gradated or dual-tone effect is intended. Leave it like this for approximately one hour. Pin down the carpet as necessary.

After this time is up, remove the carpet and return it to the dye in a different position in order to avoid light spots and creases in the carpet. Resubmerge and let it sit overnight, again pinning down if necessary to keep it submerged. Longer times will make for deeper color, but make sure to read the box for any specific timing.

Finishing Up

After the dye has set fully submerged long enough to get the desired color, remove it from the container and rinse thoroughly. Doing this with a hose or pressure washer is suitable. Make sure that it runs completely clear before moving it aside to let it dry. After it’s dry, reinstall the carpet and enjoy the soft, cushy, vibrant carpet.

Dyeing Car Carpet Floor Mat with Hair Dye

For a seriously budget-friendly way to slightly boost the color of a car carpet, hair dye works. It’s not necessarily the best solution for long-term color, but it can help in a pinch. It’s best used for small touchups as getting enough hair dye for a full dye job would end up being far more than just getting the appropriate automotive products. Be sure to use dark black hair dye so that it can soak into the fibers.

Cleaning the Carpet

Cleaning the carpets before dyeing is always critical for a good dye job, but it’s extremely important when using the hair dye method. The use of a steam cleaner and/or a carpet shampooing machine is highly recommended in order to increase the chances of the hair dye actually soaking in. Dry the carpets thoroughly.

Preparing the Dye

Mix the dye as instructed within the packaging. Some dyes come in total kits with different bottles needing to be mixed with one another and shaken, while others need developers added and mixed in a plastic bowl. Never use metal bowls, it will cause a weird brassiness to happen.

MANIC PANIC Blue Lightning Bleach Kit 30 Vol New

MANIC PANIC Blue Lightning Bleach Kit 30 Vol New
MANIC PANIC Blue Lightning Bleach Kit 30 Vol New

Dyeing the Carpet

Spray a fabric or carpet coating in order to enhance the color. Remember that this dye was meant for hair, so unless the car’s carpet is made out of wool for some reason, it’s likely not going to want to take well without some help. Brush the dye and the coating thoroughly through the carpet in order to ensure the fibers are completely coated and not sticking together.

This process will likely need to be repeated multiple times in order to get a significant change in color. It’s also not necessarily a long-term solution, as cleaning is going to lift some of the dye a little at a time. However, it is a good solution for the short-term or for tiny areas.

Finishing Up

Skipping the rinse might be needed to keep the color nice and neat. However, is still recommended to at least wipe over the area with a damp cloth to prevent damage to the fibers, especially if the dye is a bit harsher. After it’s dry, vacuum the carpet. It might not be perfect, but it will probably be a little better than it was before.

Why Dye a Carpet Floor Mat Instead of Replacing it?

Not everyone cares about how their car carpet looks, especially if it’s the family car that’s on its last legs anyway. However, some people don’t even realize that dyeing a car’s carpet is even an option, especially since most retailers are going to try to push for replacement instead.

Here are some reasons why dyeing might be a useful option over replacing the carpet:

  • It is far more budget-friendly
  • Touching up spots, stains, and other discoloration
  • Just trying to make it look a little nicer for a better sale
  • Sprucing it up and refreshing the look of the car
  • Covering up damaged and worn areas
  • Customizing an interior
  • Making colors clash less with one another
  • Because they have the means and want to

Cars are huge parts of someone’s life. People need them to get to work, go pick up groceries, and visit their families. Some people even need to spend extended periods of time in their cars, so having something comfortable and pleasant is a bonus. Any spark of joy is a little more joy than they had before, and it doesn’t hurt anyone to have pretty car carpets.

Close up of a carpet floor mat tan interior

When All Else Fails, Go to a Professional

Dyeing a carpet floor mat is going to be approximately one-third the cost of just replacing it but gets even cheaper if it turns into a do-it-yourself project. However, the problem with doing it as an amateur is that it might not end up as good as it could be. If wanting to do a drastic color change like from tan to a boutique color, it is probably going to be the best bet to just go see a professional.

For major stains and other big areas, a professional has access to better color-matching than what everyone else can get easily. The dealer especially has access to the exact same dye that was used in the first place, so if the color matching is crucial, they’re the place to go.

Person cleaning the carpet floor mat on the ground next to the car

Conclusion

Cars are massively important parts of adult life, and just like everything else in life, time can take its toll. In order to refresh the interior of a car, owners have the option to go to a professional or to do it themselves. When cleaning no longer cuts the carpet or there has been some discoloration from its use, it might be time to update the carpet.

Dyeing carpet floor mats cost approximately one-third of having them totally replaced, which is extremely attractive to those on a stringent budget. Doing it without a professional can cut costs even further, especially if there just needs to be a little touch-up. There are also tons of different methods to dyeing a car’s carpet to choose from based on skill and budget, so it’s definitely a good option for consideration.

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References:

Detail King

The Espo Magazine

The Infamous Project

AUTOMOTIVE INTERIOR DYE: “HOW TO”

Get Jerry

How do you dye your car carpet black?

WheelZine

How to Dye Car Carpet

DetailXPerts

How to Do Car Carpet Recoloring

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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