Over-Dyed Rugs

There is a popular trend in rugs of chemically stripping the dyes of woven wool rugs, and then over­dyeing them with strong colors rarely similar to the original dyes. 

The chemical dye stripping process damages and wears down the wool, so often the rug looks more threadbare, with cotton foundation fibers exposed. 

The over-dye is formulated to adhere to wool, and not to cotton. This means with time and use the dyed color will leave the cotton and the rug will develop white areas which may require re-dyeing after several years of use. 

  • These are considered short life decorative rugs. High use areas with spills may transfer the over­dye to your floors.
  • Rinsing out spill areas will likely cause loss of color, as will even the gentlest washing process.
  • Over-dye on full pile wool rugs (ones not chemically faded first) will last much longer than thread-bare over-dyed rugs.

Over-dyeing rugs brings a modern look to a traditional rug and can be a creative addition to your home. 


If your over-dyed rug has full wool pile, then regular vacuuming is the best way for you to extend the life of your rug. If your over­ dyed rug is worn, then the wool will not be strong so strong suction vacuums and rotating brush vacuums should be avoided as they can tear at the weakened wool. Use a light weight vacuum with no rotating brush, or a very soft brush, to prevent fiber tears. Stick vacuums or hand held vacuum tools can be used. Dust as often as you need to sweep your floors.

Rotate your threadbare over-dyed rugs so that you can even up the wear and tear from regular foot traffic. 


If your over-dyed wool rug has full pile, there will be more repellency to spills, and a better chance at successful clean up with blotting and very limited rinsing (as the dye may release with the dean up process). If your over-dyed rug is threadbare, all spills will immediately reach the cotton foundation and it is extremely difficult to remove stains from cotton foundation fibers. Fiber protector can help add some repellency to spills and soil. You can use corn starch or other absorbent powder (NEVER baking soda) to cover the spill to help absorb it up, then vacuum away the powder when fully dry. With many drink spills, or pet accidents, professional cleaning will be needed, and stains in the cotton foundation may be permanent. 

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