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
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. :)