Rug Care & Conservation

All the advice to follow might make you think your rug is fragile, and requires lots of care, but just the opposite is true. Oriental rugs are extremely durable, and will last through many generations with proper care and conservation.  Pay attention to the basics, and then settle in to enjoying your rugs.  Trust us:  you’ll be just fine, and so will your carpets!


Rug Padding
Surprisingly, the most important part of your rug to protect in terms of preventing wear and tear is not the top; it’s the underside, where the tightly pulled wools of the pile are placed against a flat surface. Dust and dirt particles can cause friction, which will eventually cause the wools to fray and wear away, which will in time cause the surface of the rug to break apart.  There is one very simple way to protect against this problem:  a good underlayment. It will hold your carpet in place, which is important from a cosmetic standpoint, but it will also protect your purchase from the damaging effects of friction.  (see Rug Padding)

Both knotted rugs and kilims can and should be vacuumed frequently; however, we recommend against using beater brush vacuums, and limit your vacuuming to the attachments made for vacuuming hard surfaces such as hardwood floors   If you have beater-brush vacuum, you can certainly use it, with due caution.   Just be careful not to catch selvedge edges and/or the fringes of your rug, which can cause serious damage.  In the case of kilims, a quick and firm sweep you’re your kitchen broom can provide a quick clean-up, too, but only if your kilim is securely anchored with a proper rug padding.

It is important to rotate your rug periodically to avoid continually walking over the same spots, and causing wear patterns to develop.  Rotation will also help in preventing noticeable variations in the rug’s appearance due to sun fade.
Avoiding Sun Fade
At the outset, please understand there is no such thing as a rug that is impervious to sun fading.  All rugs, whether made with wools that are vegetally-dyed, chemically-dyed, or natural/no dye, are subject to fading.   If possible, one should avoid direct sunlight on handmade carpets.  Shades or curtains, or sun films which are applied to one’s windows, will aid in preventing this. If exposure is inevitable, rotation becomes even more important, as uneven fading is very difficult to rectify once it has occurred. Over many years of use, fading is nearly inevitable.  The key is to do what you can to ensure any color change is uniform.
It is important to periodically inspect your carpet.  First, one should inspect it for moths and their larvae, which are evidenced by their casings, which look like grains of rice.  This is particularly true for any portion of the rug which is in a dark and hidden area, like under a bed.  Larvae will feed on the wools, and cause serious damage.  Second, one should inspect the fringe ends of the rug frequently, looking for frayed edges or fringe-end ties that are coming undone.  This is simple to fix if it is caught early, but can cause very significant unraveling of the rug if not addressed.  

If for some reason, you find yourself needing to store your rug for a period of time, due care is needed to make sure your rug comes out of storage with the same integrity as when you put it away.  First, give the rug a very thorough cleaning.  Vacuum the front of the rug thoroughly.  Then turn it over, and vacuum the back of the rug.  Repeat.  If the rug appears at all dirty after this procedure, consider having the rug professionally cleaned prior to storage. Once the rug is clean, place an archival, breathable paper over the rug’s surface, and roll (do not fold) the rug up.  Be careful to roll evenly, so that the ends of the rug remain together, and do not “list” up or down.  Once the rug is rolled, wrap the entire roll in more archival paper, and store it in a location that is humidity neutral, and where water, mold, and/or moths will not get to the rug.
Soiling and Stains
 You will find oriental carpets, particularly the fanciest of them, are actually quite stain resistant.  This is due to a combination of their tight weave, which makes it hard for substances to penetrate the pile, and the high lanolin content of good wools, which causes liquids to remain on the surface of the wool.  However, accidents do happen.  But rest assured, with reasonable caution, most spills can be removed with minimal effort.  
Mud:  allow to dry, and brush the area thoroughly.  Vacuum up dirt, being sure to clean to the base of the rug, and not simply dusting off the surface.
Foodstuffs:  most foodstuffs are easily cleaned up by simply removing and large pieces, and then blotting the area with a damp cloth.  However, this is not true for all foods, and spills such as spaghetti sauce or blueberries or red wine, etc may need additional attention. There are different remedies for different stains, and for different rugs. Please email or call us immediately, and we will be happy to personally advise you on how to address your particular situation, free of charge.  
Finally, a very strong caution:  DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use ANY commercial rug cleaning product (like Resolve) on your carpets. These products are great for use on wall-to-wall, but can be extremely damaging to oriental carpets, and have been known to cause dye runs, bleaching, and even fiber damage.  If you feel you simply MUST proceed without consulting a professional, a solution of ½ tsp. Woolite to 1c. cool water is the least likely to cause major damage.   Test the rug for colorfastness before applying ANY wet substance (even water or club soda).  If the rug does not bleed color onto your wet cloth when applied to the rug’s surface, the piece is likely color fast.  you may then proceed with due caution.  Place a dry cloth below the stain, and begin applying very small amounts of cleaning solution with a toothbrush or similar soft bristled brush.  DO NOT soak the rug. Then place a clean cloth over the area, and step on the cloth.  Repeat until stain has disappeared.  
Rugs and Pets
Many if not most of our clients have pets, and there is nothing incompatible about mixing our furry friends with fine furnishings.  One simply must be careful and not set your pets up to have a problem.  Puppies and kittens can be hard on rug edges, and are prone to chewing on corners and fringe.   Avoid this temptation if possible, and if it happens, call us immediately for advice.  Any rug damage is best addressed immediately, before it has a chance to become serious.  

As to pet stains, let’s just call a spade a spade:  handmade rugs and dog or cat urine do not made good bedfellows.  Urine is very difficult to remove if the stain is left untreated for a long period of time.  If you have a young puppy or an animal that is not house-trained, you will need to exercise due caution to avoid accidents, and may want to consider removing the rug until the pet is trained.  If an accident happens, though, you don’t have to get rid of the carpet, OR the pet.  Here’s our advice for immediate actions:
If the area is still damp, cover the area with a heavy layer of baking soda.     Place a clean cloth over the baking soda, and apply heavy pressure to drive the urine into the baking soda.  Stepping on the cloth is the easiest way we know to do this.  Use a spatula to scoop off the dampened baking soda, and repeat until the baking soda no longer becomes damp.  Then and only if the rug is colorfast, place a clean cloth underneath the affected area, and apply a small amount of club soda to the area.  Do not soak the rug, use only enough to dampen the effected area.  Then place a clean cloth on the top, and stand on the rug.  DO NOT scrub the surface.  Limit your actions to blotting.  Continue until the bottom cloth no longer shows evidence of urine.  
Is the stain has gone unnoticed for any period of time, it is our recommendation to have the rug professionally cleaned.  Please contact us for further recommendations.