Color run, or dye “bleed” as it is sometimes called, can occur for many reasons. Typically, the migration of unstable synthetic dyes color run, can be the result of poor application of the dye, aggressive washing, non-fixation of the dye, harsh cleaning chemicals that contain bleach or pigments applied after weaving. Color run can generally be removed, but there are factors that make the process challenging.
Procedures for removing rug and carpet color bleeding are generally proprietary, often shrouded in mystery and folklore by the trade. The reality is that the process is fairly simple. Usually using reducing agents or oxidizers are used to correct the dye.
These procedures can be effective, but success depends substantially on the experience and skill of the person doing the work. It also depends on the richness of the dye or if the owner has tried fixing the problem with over the counter remedies. These remedies can sometimes make the damage permanent because they accidentally fix the rug dye.
The process employing a reducing agent, commonly sodium hydrosulphite, is referred to as “stripping”. It is useful for removing synthetic dye run, acid dye “paint jobs” used to alter color, and staining from synthetic dye sources (artificially colored foods and drinks, medicine, etc.) The process does not damage fiber and can often remove color run or staining without substantially altering the original rug and carpet color.
A second category of processes employs an oxidizer, typically sodium hypochlorite or related compounds. These are also referred to as bleach wash, luster wash and antique wash. At low strength they can remove stains and certain types of color run. They can also be sued to create artificial luster in wool, soften color, and alter the “hand” of the fabric.