Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Apply the Dye, Adjust the Color

Last month we discussed how to prepare the discolored area for color repair, and now we will explore how to apply the dye to the area and adjust the color.

Dye-Application Methods
Depending on the size of the area to be repaired, there are several application methods that can be used for this step:

  • Cotton swab or cotton ball. This method is sometimes best used when working with a larger area where more coverage is necessary.
  • Eyedropper or syringe. This method is best suited for smaller areas.
  • Airbrush and compressor. This is an advanced procedure that allows the dye technician very precise application of dyes to the repair area. However, it is necessary to apply live steam to the repaired area to set the dyestuffs into the fabric
  • Trigger sprayer. This method can apply a large amount of dye with little effort, but does not offer a high degree of control.

    Applying the Dye
    Most carpet color is composed of a combination of the three primary colors - red, yellow, and blue. A carpet that has one of the primary colors as its dominant color will still contain some of the others (e.g. a blue carpet will contain some degree of red and yellow). Therefore, when you observe a discoloration that needs to be dyed back to the original color, you must determine what color or colors are missing. For example, if you observe a slightly yellow discoloration on a medium-blue carpet, which colors are missing?

    Obviously, blue will be the most dominant color missing, and the technician would want to replace that color first. However, there still would be some degree of red that would most likely need to be replaced. So, the general rule is, replace the most dominant missing color first when performing color repair.

    There are two other considerations for the repair technician to be aware of when applying dye to the carpet fiber: The carpet in the area of repair should be thoroughly dried between applications of each color and, if the dye does not readily adhere to the fiber, the pH level of the fiber should be lowered to around 2 pH and the temperature of the dye bath should be raised to at least 150ºF (66ºC). Dye-adherence problems are most commonly found in stain-resistant carpet products and severely sun-faded areas.

    Adjusting the Color
    As dyes are applied to the color-repair area, sometimes they are applied too heavily or in uneven concentrations. There are several methods that can be used to adjust color during the repair:
    Color-stripping agent. There are many quality products on the market that will serve to remove excess color with little effort.
    Alkaline cleaner. A good-quality protein spotter that contains some ammonia generally works best for this step. It is best to apply the spotter to a dry towel and then agitate the area to be lightened. A light rinse with pH adjuster is necessary before continuing with dye correction.
    Bleach. It is important to apply the bleach only to the area that you want to lighten, so a controlled application is critical. Use a small cotton swab or a pipette. As you apply the bleach to the affected area, make sure that you closely observe when the dark areas lighten sufficiently. When you observe that the excess color has been removed, liberally apply bleach neutralizer and extract the excess before continuing with the color repair.
    Blend the color. The color repair technician may find it necessary to blend the repaired area and the surrounding original color by over-dyeing. This is a similar principle used by professionals that repair automobile paint surfaces when removing small scratches and dents. There are four situations that can occur when blending is necessary.
    1. The repaired area is brighter than the original color of the carpet. Under this situation, a toning color must be applied to the carpet in the area of the color repair. Grey is the best color used for toning.
    2. The repaired area is slightly darker than the original color of the carpet. Sometimes after correctly blending the missing primary colors to the original discoloration, the repaired area looks slightly darker than the rest of the carpet. Under this situation, a shading color must be used to apply to the surrounding pile areas only. Black is the best color used for shading.
    3. The repaired area is not necessarily brighter or darker but is just slightly off color. Under this situation the repair technician can either continue applying the primary colors to adjust the repaired area or select a color that is similar to the original color of the carpet and apply a very light solution to the repaired area and surrounding areas (only enough to blend the color and diminish color differences).
    4. As you perfect your skills as a color repair technician, you may develop a tendency to become "over critical" of your work. Most people who learn this valuable skill acquire the ability to see and detect imperfections that the average person does not see. You will find that, as you perform color repairs on carpet, there can be a tendency to become frustrated because there are still imperfections that you can see. It seems as though no matter what you try, you are not happy with what you see. Then the unexpected happens: The customer walks up to see what you have done and raves about how good it looks!

    Remember, the human eye cannot generally detect color differences of less than 3 percent, especially a customer's untrained eye. The color repair technician should make clear to the customer that no color repair attempt will ever be perfect, and they need to allow for some imperfection in the completed job. As a matter of fact, you should sell your service as something you do to disguise the damaged area, and that the repair will not be perfect. A good way to describe the end result to the customer would be, "Once I have completed my repair, you will still be able to find where I have completed my work. However, if someone were to walk into the room where the repair was done, they would almost never see the corrected area."

    Now that you have the necessary knowledge to perfect your spot-dye skills, we will explore the concept of total room dyeing in the next issue.

  • Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

    You must login or register in order to post a comment.



    Image Galleries

    The 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition

    A look in photos at the 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition, which was held from April 24-26 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and Spa in Frisco, Texas.


    Yes, it's only February now - several weeks or months before the thaw depending on where you live - and hopefully this winter has been a profitable one for your business during the historical slow season. But now's also the time to start planning for the busy season - spring - so that you can hit the ground running. In this episode of The Hitman Advertising Show, John Braun shares tips and tricks on how to make this spring your most profitable yet.
    More Podcasts

    ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


    2015 Jan/Feb

    The Jan/Feb ICS issue features content on cleaning services during the winter time, commercial cleaning, rug cleaning, new with rugs, marketing for restoration and new products.

    Table Of Contents Subscribe

    Janitorial Work

    In addition to residential and commercial carpet cleaning, do you do any janitorial work on the side?
    View Results Poll Archive


    The Carpet Cleaner's Book of Unlimited Success! (ebook)

    Don’t worry about the recession or about your competition.  Now you can be the owner of over 400 ways for carpet cleaning professionals to make more money and get more jobs!

    More Products


    Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

    Click here to view


    facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.png


    Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

    Click here to view