• Bal Arisi

Dye Bleed

Updated: Jul 10

Some oriental rugs are notorious for it. No matter, whether natural or synthetic dye is used it can occur. What is it? Color run. A common issue in oriental and other decorative rugs made from natural fibers such as wool and silk. These beautiful rugs are known to have beautiful rich colors adjacent to strikingly light ivories. This makes for a precarious situation when it comes time to wash your rug.



What is dye bleed and why does it occur?


Dye bleed is a term used to describe the migration of colored dyes into other areas of a woven piece such as a rug when water or another liquid is introduced. This is not generally a problem unless it is a darker dye moving into a lighter an area of lighter dyed material on the same rug.


  • If wool or other fibers used in weaving are not washed after being dyed, dyes may migrate when the rug is washed.

  • If the proper mordant was not used or dye were not set sufficiently, then the dyes will not be colorfast and will run upon contact with water or other liquid.(Note: unstable dyes can also transfer onto other fabrics when rubbed i.e. if a rug is placed on top of another lighter colored rug, dyes can transfer. This is called dye crocking)

  • Over exposure to water or contact with pet urine may cause stable dyes to bleed.

  • If other methods are used to add color to an area that has either lost color or faded. Such unstable color methods include paint or marker.


Preventing Color Run

Knowing your chemistry is essential when cleaning area rugs. Unless you are familiar with the type of rug you are working on and whether or not it is a known bleeder, then you may be in for a disaster. Acid is what dyes to a fiber. So introducing an alkaline cleaner to the rug will release dye. Most at-home cleaning products are alkaline based. This is one reason to avoid cleaning natural fiber rugs at home. They need to be professionally washed by a professional that is familiar with the required steps to take to prevent damage.


Bal Arisi, always tests dye stability in a rug prior to washing. We have various applications that we can apply to either stabilize the dyes during area rug washing, or to prevent released dye from re-bonding to the rug.


If you have an oriental rug that has previous dye bleed damage, there is a possibility of correction. Bal Arisi uses various techniques including but not limited to oxidation products to remove migrant dyes and dye repair which is an application to camouflage the damaged areas.


Learn more about how Bal Arisi can help you Love your rug again!


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