Oriental rugs have a well–earned reputation for being extremely durable and can be expected to provide years of service. However, they are not indestructible and should be well–cared–for, like all prized possessions. Once you become the proud owner of an Oriental rug, it is important that you know about the characteristics and care of your rug. Proper care and maintenance will greatly enhance both the beauty and the life of the rug. The construction of your rug, the fibers with which it has been made and the environment in which it is placed will all play in to the rug’s longevity. In addition to normal wear and tear, central heating, air conditioning and a number of household chemicals and inhabitants can have a damaging effect on the construction of your rug. Do not place the rug in damp areas as dampness may cause deterioration of your rug and never place the rug near any heat or fire ignition sources.
CLEANING YOUR RUG
Like everything else, rugs get dirty, and since self–cleaning itself can involve wear–and–tear, cleaning should be undertaken carefully. Sweeping your rug with a broom or carpet sweeper on a weekly basis is highly recommended and is the least damaging way to routinely clean your rug. Depending on the size, beating your rug “the old-fashioned way” is also an excellent cleaning method that causes little wear to your rug. Vacuuming your rug once every other week is a fast and efficient way to remove the grit that might cut into rug fibers. For routine cleaning, you should be sure to use a machine that works only on suction and does not use a beater bar. When vacuuming, it is advisable to do so with the nap. Vacuuming against the nap can press dirt back into the rug’s pile. Vacuuming a shag rug with a long pile is never recommended.
Once a year, you can clean your rug with a vacuum that has beater bars. First, vacuum the back of the rug. The beating effect should cause any trapped grit to fall out of the pile. Then, turn the rug over and vacuum lightly across the face. Make sure that the beater bar is in a high enough position so it is not slowing the vacuum’s motor excessively when pushing it over the rug’s pile. Vacuums with extremely violent beater bars should be avoided because they may damage the rug’s foundation. In all events, care should be taken never to vacuum the fringe of a rug, especially with hand-knotted pieces. In hand-knotted rugs, the fringes are truly pieces of the rug’s foundation. If damaged, the entire rug may be at risk of unraveling. It is also essential to replace worn rug pads as necessary. Your annual beater bar vacuuming is a good time to check the state of your rug pad. In order to ensure that your rug wears evenly, you may also want to rotate it 180° at this time as well.
If the rug was clean when you bought it and is not in an unusually high–traffic area, you should only have to cope with major cleaning once every three to five years. Only a qualified and reputable cleaning company with good references and insurance should undertake the cleaning of an Oriental rug, as techniques are different from those used to clean wall–to–wall carpeting. Professional rug cleaning involves huge machines that feed the carpet over giant rollers and wash the rug with high–pressure jets of water tinctured with a gentle detergent. The rug is then rinsed and wrung between huge cylinders and hung on a bar located in a chamber with circulating hot air for drying. While this process is perfectly fine for newer rugs in sound structural shape, older rugs should be hand washed horizontally with utmost care. The Rug Shop always recommends professional cleaning services as the safest and surest way to protect the life of your rug, regardless of rug construction and fiber content.
Accidents always happen, whether someone spills a plate of spaghetti or a glass of red wine or coffee. Always have a bottle of plain soda water available. The bubbles in soda water dilute and lift the stain and work well on most stains if applied immediately. Lightly dampen a white cloth with soda water and gently massage the stained area from the outer edges in, rubbing in a circular motion. Make sure that your cleaning cloth is only lightly dampened. Excessive moisture can damage your rug. Stains that have been allowed to dry can often be much more difficult to deal with, however dried mud and blood can often be simply brushed away. For rugs laid atop carpeting, do not conduct any cleaning and/or maintenance prior to removing the rug from the carpet and do not return the rug until completely dry, as applying moisture to the rug while still on the wall–to–wall carpet could cause the colors in both the rug and carpeting to react to each other.
Uric acid is acid in urine that bleaches colors and destroys wool and other fibers. When your pet or baby has an accident, wash the stain three or more times with plain soda water as directed above, blotting the stained area with a white towel each time. Then, apply a cleaning solution made from baby shampoo (or any shampoo that doesn’t contain bleach) and white vinegar at a ratio of one teaspoon of vinegar per pint of shampoo. Test the rug first in a small area to ensure color–fastness. Rinse well with clean water, brushing the pile with a medium brush and air–drying thoroughly with cool air. For large areas needing cleaning, professional services are recommended.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL RUGS
Your rug may exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:
Shedding: It is characteristic for all synthetic and wool pile rugs to lose short fibers. This “shedding” process is often created when the pile is cut to required height during production and fibers fall onto the surface as “fluff.” Shedding is not considered a defect. The amount of shedding will vary based on material type and quality, pile height, age of the rug and knot density.
Sprouting: Certain types of yarns used in the making of rugs are “over-twisted” in order to give the rug the desired texture, and often a yarn tuft will rise above the surface (commonly called “sprouting”). Sprouting is one of the easiest issues to remedy by merely cutting the sprout (the yarn sticking up above the surface) with a pair of scissors so that it is flush with the rug’s surface. DO NOT PULL THE SPROUT AS IT CAN CAUSE ADDITIONAL DAMAGE TO THE RUG. Also, be aware that high heels can cause sprouting as well, even in flat–weave rugs.
Curling: The term “curling” can be used to describe a couple of situations with respect to your rug. Rugs are often shipped rolled tightly into a cylindrical shape. Sometimes, when the rugs are initially unpacked, the edges will curl under, refusing to lay flat. The rug’s foundation or backing must be given time to relax after being unpacked. Often times, reverse rolling the rug will speed the relaxing process. Curling can also be a sign in hand knotted rugs of a very finely and tightly woven piece. Often times, sewing strips of leather along the edges in cases such as these will prevent curling. This should be undertaken only by a professional rug repair workshop.
The term “curling” is also used to describe the stretching/wrinkling that occurs when a rug is placed on top of wall–to–wall carpet, often times with heavy furniture placed on the rug’s surface. Again, this is not a defect of the rug, although in such cases the rug will never lay flat again. It is simply due to the fact that the rug’s foundation has been stretched.
OTHER MAINTENANCE FACTS
Insect Damage: Rugs should be checked periodically for evidence of insect infestation, which can be brought into your house by pets, flowers or food. Your rug’s worst enemy is the moth. While adult moths will not eat wool, their larvae feed on it in dark, quiet, warm places, such as areas hidden under furniture. Therefore, regular cleaning is necessary to avoid moth infestation. Moving your rug into the hot sun for a few hours every now and then is a good precaution. Moths are most active during the summer months, so exercise special care during this time. While there are anti–moth sprays on the market, you must be sure that they will not harm your rug’s fibers or colors before applying them.
Camphor powder has been used for many years to deter moths. Dusting the back of your rug with camphor powder and lightly shaking it can be an effective preventative measure.
Crushing: Heavy furniture may damage your rug. If the feet of your furniture are sharp or are made of metal, you must use some sort of protector prior to setting such furniture on top of your rug. There are many types of protectors available. Furniture floaters, which have a smooth surface and adhere directly to the legs of your furniture, leave minimal indentations on the surface of your rug. If the pile of your rug has become crushed and you wish to attempt to restore it to its normal height, try brushing the affected area gently with a soft brush.
Fading: Excessive fading can occur if a rug is exposed to long periods of strong sunlight and is best avoided by either repositioning the rug or drawing blinds or draperies. Any light over the years, however, will gradually mellow the colors and sometimes this subdued coloration can be an advantage. Faded, mellow colors are often very appealing to many rug connoisseurs.
Cleaning Products: While you will certainly want to ensure that all cleaning products you may choose to apply directly to your rug are safe and will not cause damage to your rug, you should also be aware that some cleaning agents used in close proximity to your rug can have harmful effects, although they might not be applied directly to the rug itself. Perform a thorough check of all cleaning agents to be used on underlying surfaces and in surrounding areas, such as baseboards, windows, etc., to ensure that they are safe to be used around your rug.
Plant Lovers, Beware: Continuous dampness resulting from over–watering and spilling of flower pots and planters placed directly on a rug can lead to mildew rot, which is an irreparable type of damage, and color transfer, if the rug is placed atop wall–to–wall carpeting.
Rug Storage: If you need to store your rug for any lengthy amount of time, first make sure that it is clean and dry. It is advisable to treat it with a moth repellent (see “Insect Damage”), then roll the rug into a tight cylinder against the nap and wrap in a breathable fabric, such as a sheet. Plastic wrapping will prevent the rug from breathing. The rug should be stored in a cool, dry, well–ventilated area. Some larger hand knotted rugs can be stored folded if not too tightly woven, however these too should be treated for moths and stored in breathable fabric. Never store heavy objects on your rolled or folded rugs, as this could cause permanent damage by creasing the rug and, in some cases, breaking the foundation or backing of a tufted rug.
It is extremely important, no matter how smooth your floor may appear to be, to always place a suitable padding between the floor and your rug. Ideally, a pad should:
- Keep the rug from slipping
- Absorb the pounding that all rugs receive underfoot
- Allow for air circulation, which will prolong the life of your rug
- Be cut one inch smaller in length and width than the rug itself
There are a number of underlays on the market today. The two most widely used are those made from porous sponge rubber and those made to be used on both wall-to-wall carpeting and/or hard-surface. The rubber underlay is used on hard surfaces like hardwood, tile, stone or concrete. The dual purpose underlay is mostly used when placing an Oriental rug on wall–to-wall carpeting.
The Rug Shop does not recommend placing rugs on wall–to–wall carpeting without a pad designed for such applications, as rugs of all construction have a tendency to float or crawl, stretch and wrinkle in these situations, especially when heavy furniture is being placed on them. When placing a rug on top of wall–to–wall carpeting, it is best to lay it on carpeting that has a short pile. The low–pile commercial broadloom carpeting that banks and department stores use is ideal.
Note of caution: Do not use sheets of plain foam rubber on a polished floor. They tend to collect moisture that will cause stickiness. The dampness will also cause deterioration of your rug.
The Rug Shop carries two-sided pads, designed to be used on both carpeting and hard-surface as well as pads designed specifically for hard-surface applications.
Every day accidents happen, but it doesn’t mean that your rug’s appearance has to suffer. Here are 6 easy steps to ensure your rug doesn’t pay the price of mishaps.
- Act Fast
- BLOT — NEVER RUB
- Clean stain – Edge to Center
- Do Not SOAK
- Pat and Fan Dry
- Brush Pile
You have to move fast when spills happen, which means you should keep a little box containing the following close at hand at all times: dry cleaning fluid, club soda, cotton cloths, white vinegar, mild dishwashing detergent (containing no alkalis or bleaches), alcohol, 3% hydrogen peroxide, clothes brush, household ammonia, salt and nail polish remover (acetone).
Scoop or scrape off solid stains with a spoon or blunt knife. Blot up excess spills with pa
per towels. Don’t rub, as this will spread the stain. You want the opposite of the ripple effect, working the stain from the edge to the center.
This will hopefully contain the stain and not affect the rest of the rug. Always apply antidote with a clean cloth. Do not soak the stain with cleaning solution. The less moisture the better. Then pat excess moisture with paper towels and dry with a fan or hand blow dryer, preferably on a low heat setting. Finally, to restore the pile, brush it with a soft brush. On old and stubborn stains, repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.
Chewing Gum – Press ice cubes against spot until it becomes brittle and breaks off. Use spot remover to vanish last traces. Saturate the spot with a cloth soaked in vinegar or alcohol.
Candle Wax – Place a brown paper bag over the spot. Place a hot iron over
the paper bag. Move iron constantly. Wait a few minutes until the wax is absorbed. Repeat if necessary.
Ink from ballpoint pen – Saturate the spot with hairspray. Allow to dry. Blot lightly with vinegar solution.
Disclaimer: For difficult or unlisted stains, please consult with a professional rug cleaner. These stain removal tips are to be used only as guides. The Rug Shop accepts no liability for damage from the use of these solutions.