Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Dyed in the Bathtub!

I admit it. I had rug envy. (I've embedded links...you know, just in case you have half a grand to drop on a piece of carpet).

This one...

This one...

This one...

This one...
Target - $939

And most especially this one...


Alas, at an average cost of $616.60, I could clearly not afford to purchase one of the fabulous rugs that gave me my bad case of rug envy.


I did have this:

This lackluster green Erslev rug from IKEA that somehow manages to blend with the carpet even though it's supposed to be a different color. This is what I had, and using stuff you've already got is free(ish)!

So, here's my quick tutorial on how to Rit Dye a rug in the bathtub.

Step 1. Bleach the bejeepers out of the textile (works best if it's natural fibers...not synthetics). I bleached the rug overnight. 1/2 bottle of bleach to about a half a tub of water.

Step 2. Rinse. Rinse again. Rinse again. Rinse again. (You don't want bleach all over everything do you?)

Step 3. Hang to dry:

Step 4. After you realize you don't like the bleached color. Purchase some Rit Dye. I used two powder packs of Golden Yellow and 1/2 powder pack of Cocoa Brown. I made up the color combo on my own. If you can't handle color mixing, you should probably consult a chart or something before you get started. Fill the tub as LOW as possible (just enough to barely cover the rug) with HOT HOT HOT water. Put on rubber gloves!!!

Step 5. Pour in your colors and mix in the tub thoroughly. I actually dampened the rug before I did this so that it would accept the color better. I learned that trick online. Yay internets!

Step 6. Place rug in the tub and move it around continuously with your (gloved) hands to make sure that every square inch of the fabric gets coverage. The package recommends 10-30 minutes (or however long it takes for the material to turn the hue you are looking for). After about 5 minutes, mine was DONE. Done, done, done, done, done.

Step 7. Rinse. Rinse again. Rinse again. Rinse again. Curse to yourself as you realize you just DYED YOUR BATHTUB. Stop cursing...be thankful that you only filled up the tub enough to *barely* cover the rug.

Step 8. Toss the rug into the dryer. (I just did this because I didn't want to drip yellow all over the place). After about 1 hour, hang to dry the rest of the way.

Step 9. SCRUB the tub. With chlorine bleach. Scrub a bunch. You think you're done scrubbing? You are wrong - keep going. Once you think you're done, fill the tub up halfway, pour 1/4 gallon of bleach in the tub and let it soak for a while. Drain, scrub some more. Repeat until you just give up.

Ta Da! You are now the proud new owner of a yellow rug and a yellow bathtub! Seriously - don't try this with a dark color. Blue would have made it obvious that we've been using the bathtub to dye stuff...yellow just makes it look like we don't know how to clean our tub.

**UPDATE** I was finally able to get all of the yellow out of the tub by using the gel Clorox toilet bowl cleaner...this one:
I squeezed it all around the inside of the tub (you've gotta mix it around so that it won't leave zebra stripes when it's rinsed off). Let it sit for a while, and then scrub 'til it's clean. It worked like a dream for me!

After I finished with all of the coloring and dyeing, my rug envy still wasn't quenched. I bought a stencil and some white fabric paint (you'll notice the white/gold trend in my selection of rug-envy rugs). Here's what I ended up with:

And here it is in the room!

Grand total - $30.98. CHA CHING!

It's not every day you can tell people you dyed in the bathtub ;)

Happy Erslev Dyeing!



  1. holy cow...THAT. IS. BEAUTIFUL. everytime i think i know just how talented you are, you far exceed my expectations...that is AWESOME!!! i'm so proud of you, you did GREAT work!!!! LOVE YOU!!! xo

  2. Ha ha ha. "...yellow just makes it look like we don't know how to clean our tub." Why must you make me laugh-snort?

    Great job with the rug. I seriously wish you'd bottle some of this creativity and share it. :)

  3. wow- thats beautiful!!

    good job with the stencil :)

  4. Love it Kendra! Totally jealous! (jennifer jordan)

  5. you are super crafty! love it!

  6. Just brilliant!!! And I LOVE the fact we share similar tastes in fabric...the wall hanging above Sadie's bed uses the same fabric as the cushions I made for our sofa!! Snap! Much love from accross the pond, Jess xxxxx (UK)

  7. Absolutely beautiful...You have inspired me to do the same! If only I was so talented and had the patience.

  8. Thanks everyone!! This was a very fun project - one of my all time favorites :) @abdaley - if you replicate it, let me know - I'd love to see pics!!

  9. I am so totally worshiping you right now. I'm off to buy some 1) bleach 2) Rit dye 3) Clorox gel cleaner.

    THANK YOU !!!!!

  10. THANKS FOR THIS! I will have to try this on some slip covers I've been meaning to dye but haven't gotten around to. Except because of all YOUR hard work and lessons learned - will line my tub with a plastic drop cloth just so I don't have to go scrub scrub scrubing away the dye afterwards (I will be using a black dye! yipes).

  11. awesome!! I have been contemplating dying in my tub a few items.... this might be the thing. note to sell to get that Clorox toilet cleaner.
    The rug looks perfect! and looks to have cost hundreds of dollars!!

  12. Thanks guys!!! Of course, I want to see photos if you end up doing this! :)

  13. Wow! that is soooooooooo impressive!!!!! I will make a note to try to find some plastic tub and do this outside tho, the elbow grease I have just isn't what it used to be

  14. The rug looks great, fab job.

    Have you experienced any dye relocating? Whenever I've used Rit, the color would leach from my clothing and infect other items in my wash. You might want to be weary of that as it looks like this rug is in a nursery and babies are notorious droolers.

  15. That is awesome...looks fabulous too! I just threw away a green rug and now I wish I still had it LOL!

  16. When I did tie dye with my kids I was horrified to see how all the dark greens, purples, and blues had dyed my tub. What I found worked like a dream was Soft Scrub with bleach. I love this stuff.

  17. Do you think using bleach instead of white fabric paint might have worked? Maybe a bleach pen?

    1. Hi COF - I don't know if bleach would have worked, but I'm inclined to think so - I hadn't even thought of it at the time, but I bet it would be less "scratchy" than fabric paint initially is :)

  18. Inspired by this - did my own in a light blue!
    Luckily we had no staining of the tub though.


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