Dye Bleeding and Dye Crocking are a continuing problem for Oriental Rug owners and oriental Rug Washers. All too often the strateg is to deal with the migrating dyes after the problem starts. Very rarely does anyone try to correct the dye instability issue before the rug is cleaned. There is another option that I suggest is both practical and profitable that allows Rug Washers to better serve their clients and protect the investment in a hand woven Oriental Rug. The answer is to mordant or re-mordant the rug before washing. This option is DyeFix from Chem Max and the new Dye-Loc from BridgePoint.
A prudent first step when a rug comes into the rug washer is to perform a dye test before getting the rug wet. Dye testing techniques can differ and it goes beyond the scope of this article to address the different solvent tests or the hot and wet test but whatever you use you need to detect dye instability.
When dye instability is detected before the damage has started. Let me emphasize that this is when the rug is still in good condition. A rug washer has the option of applying a Mordant/re-mordant topical solution to set and stabilize the dyes.
The only product I am aware of that can do this is DyeFix from Chem Max. DyeFix comes in liquid form in one gallon bottles. The recommended dilution is 4 to 1. Personally I prefer distilled water so one gallon of DyeFix makes five gallons of solution.
So one gallon is good for 600 square feet. The diluted DyeFix is then sprayed onto the pile surface of the rug. The key is to dampen the entire rug but not to over wet the rug. It is allowed to sit for 30 minutes before washing begins. DyeFix is most affective against Crocking and Crocking related Bleeding, It does not work as well against alkaline damaged wool. The wash process should then proceed normally. If we lived in a perfect world there would never be a problem but realistically it is prudent to wash the rug with the same care one would apply to any even slightly suspect rug. Keeping AntiDye on hand to deal with any residual dye migration is a good strategy. Besides a prudent washing that is all there is to using DyeFix.
On rare occasions there can be a shift in the tonality of the dye. Mordanting involves a number of related chemicals primarily metal salts. In Southwest Asia where most rugs are woven Alum is the principle mordant and gives the truest color. In certain areas other metal salts are added or more often naturally occur in the water. So while DyeFix is specially formulated to keep the rug at its true tonality a slight shift can occasionally occur. Since this is normally consistent across the whole rug it is a minor and rare concern. To illustrate red ranges from orange to purple it is conceivable that in rare cases for the red to be a lighter or darker. I would not expect to see an orangey red to shift to a blue red.
So why bother?
First of all it allows you to make a permanent correction to a client’s rug that helps protect them for the life of the rug. Secondly it protects you from the worst of dye crocking and Dye bleeding issues as you work on the rug.
But forgive me for being crass and discussing money but this is why you clean rugs isn’t it.
One gallon is $30.
Treats about 600 square feet Depending on the rug thickness that is about five 9 by 12 rugs or more).
The standard fee for this treatment is $1 per square foot.
So if you do one 9 by 12 rug you have about 15 minutes work and 6 dollars in chemicals for a fee of $108 in addition to your normal cleaning fee. If the rug had bled you might have had to spend far more time correcting a problem that you cannot charge extra for. So for most rug spas and plants you can make $100 extra dollars for 15 minutes work while decreasing your risk of washing that rug exponentially.