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HOWTO: Dye Your Floormats

Written by Wild Weasel

This is the step by step procedure for bleaching and dying the charcoal floor mats in a 3rd gen j-body. That said, the same procedure should apply to any other floor mats out there, though the results may vary depending on what they're made of.

Warning: I've found that the dyed mats don't wear all that well when left in the car. They look amazing for shows but after a few weeks of driving around with them, they end up looking faded and dirty. Obviously dirt shows up more on a brighter colour than on tan or black. Results may vary depending on the type of dye you use so I recommend doing this only when you have another set of mats for everyday driving. I recommend the WeatherTech brand, which is what I use in my car.

First I went out and bought a Rubbermaid bin that was big enough to lay the front mats flat in. You could do the whole thing in your bathtub but you'll likely need more dye since there will be a lot more water and you'll have to find somewhere else to bathe for a few days while the mats are being bleached.

I then tossed all the mats into the bin and filled it with hot water from the tap until the mats were completely submerged. I took them out and added a bunch of bleach. I don't know how much is "needed" but I just dumped a whole bunch in. I then ran hot water over the mats to ensure they were completely soaked and then dropped them into the bin. I stirred up the mix for about 5 minutes so that the bleach could work its way into the mats and then left them. For 3 days.

Every few hours, when I was around, I'd stir it up a bit and a few times I pulled out the bottom mat and put it on top. I'm not sure if that affected anything, but it seemed like a good idea.

After the 3 days, I dumped the whole bin out in the bath tub and thoroughly rinsed the mats. If you don't find them light enough, you can repeat that process but as you rinse them you'll notice that they're now a lot lighter than they looked in the tub and all the rubber around the edges and on the back looks like absolute hell. Don't worry about that. It will be taken care of later.

Once they were completely rinsed out (take your time, you don't want any lingering bleach in them when you dye), I rinsed the bin really well and filled it again with hot water. I kept the bin in the bath tub this time and again put the mats in so I'd know when I had enough water. You want them fully covered with enough water that they don't pop out when you're stirring, but you don't want the bin completely full since you want the dye to be as strong as possible.

When I had enough water, I moved the bin away from the tap but left the water running to fill the tub. The instructions said to keep the water hot so this seemed like a good way to do it. :)

I then removed the mats and added the dye. I used a brand called Tintex that I just happened to come across at a Home Hardware store in a mall. I don't know anything about fabric dyes but this stuff was cheap and it started off as just an experiment so it seemed as good as any.

I can't remember if I used 2 packages or 3, but I think it was 3. I stirred it all up so it was completely disolved and then put the mats into the dye. This is the part that really kills your back because you have to keep stirring it up for the next half hour or so. I think the directions said 20-30 mins, so I did the full 30 and then some. :) Don't look at it and think "That's pretty dark and my back hurts, I think I'll stop now." :) Do the full time or they'll rinse to a lighter colour than you want. :)

Every 5 minutes or so, I'd pull out the bottom mat (or mats, if it was the back 2) and placed them on top. I wanted to make sure everything was dyed equally. It might not have made a difference, but that's what I did.

When you're done, you can dump out the bin (now you get to wash the bathtub too!) and rinse the mats in cold water. Having a hand-held shower head really helped here. If the weather's nice, you might want to use the hose if you can get them outside without dripping red dye everywhere. :) Keep rinsing them until the water runs clear. It will take a while, but you don't want to leave some dye in the mats where it'll get on your shoes and stuff later.

Now leave them to dry. They'll get a fair bit lighter as they dry so if they end up too light, you can always repeat the dying process. I didn't have to.

Now you've got some great looking mats with really horrible looking rubber borders. These just need a good cleaning to get out the residue from the bleach and dye. I was quite worried until I used some tire wax on them. It brought them back to looking like new. I put it on and left it for a while and then wiped it off. Looking at the paper towel I wiped it off with, it had all sorts of dye and stuff in it. :)

Now they look great. :)

As for dying them without bleaching them, you can try that first if you're going for a really dark colour. If you don't like it, you can always bleach them out and dye them again. :)

Note: You may have to dye the mats two or more times before you get the results you want. Mine faded dramatically after a week or two but then, after the second dying, they held the colour well. Don't be discouraged if they're not vibrant enough after the first dip.

Good luck, and I hope it works as well for you as it did for me. :)


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