Questions for Nomad Rugs

Are online credit card transactions at Nomad Rugs secure?

Yes. Nomad Rugs’ online store uses industry-standard, SSL encryption to process all credit card information securely. You’re welcome to call the store at 415-401-8833 if you’d like to place an order by phone instead.

Is shipping free?

Yes, shipping is FREE throughout the USA and Candada. If you live outside of the USA, then shipping fees may be added to your total (contact us for shipping fees). But if it is a small rug, we are often able to ship for free even overseas! If you choose to return an item, you pay for only the return shipping and insurance. Read about our full shipping and return policy here.

May I return a rug if it does not meet my full expectations?

Yes. You have 10 days from the arrival date of your order to ship any item back for a full refund (or 30 days from purchase for store credit/exchange). You pay only the return shipping fees and insurance. Read about our full shipping and return policy here.

Does Nomad Rugs have all its merchandise available online?

No. But most of Nomad Rugs’ inventory is available online. A full selection resides at Nomad Rugs in San Francisco. Additionally, some of our rugs may be available in various sizes. And, thousands of other rugs may be ordered from samples or sourced from our extensive network of vendors and industry partners.

Are all your carpets hand made?

Yes. All of our carpets are entirely hand knotted and hand woven in the same manner as they have been made for thousands of years.

What are your carpets made from?

Our carpets are made entirely with wool pile. No synthetic fibers are used. We specialize in rugs made with natural dyes and handspun wool. A small percentage of our rugs are made with silk or silk highlights.

What is a kilim?

A “Kilim” (sometimes called “gelim”) is a flat-woven Oriental rug, made much like Navajo rugs, without pile. These are also hand woven in wool fibers. They don’t generally last as long in floor use as the thicker knotted pile carpets (perhaps an average of about 25 years compared to 50-80 years of use for a hand knotted pile carpet) and they cost considerably less. Kilims have traditionally been woven in all the major rug weaving countries such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan as well as North Africa. In India, flat woven kilims are called durries. Kilims tend to have a more graphic look and an informal feel. I personally really love kilims because they were often not woven for commercial export. They tend to retain the oldest and most traditional designs/colors and an authentic/archaic sensibility. Although, we also offer new kilims with wonderful contemporary and minimalist designs too! Check out our selection of kilims here.

Are rugs with natural vegetal dyes better?

Yes and no….: Dyes made from natural substances such as roots have been used in Oriental rugs for thousands of years. But at the end of the 19th century poor quality but easy to use aniline synthetic dyes had been discovered. And by 1940 these inferior aniline dyes had essentially taken the place of natural dyes in carpet production. In fact, even the recipes for making natural dyes had been entirely lost or forgotten.
But, starting in about 1980, natural dyes began to be re-discovered (and in some cases “reverse-engineered”) and used in a few rugs. Additionally, the newer generation of synthetic “chrome” dyes were perfected. These dyes do not fade prematurely in the sun nor do they run when washed with water. Sometimes today’s better quality “chrome” or “chromium” synthetic dyes are difficult to distinguish from natural dyes by the naked eye. Today both natural and synthetic chrome dyes are used in Oriental rugs and both are excellent.
Nevertheless, good quality vegetal dyes offer a richer and more variegated palate of color (know as “Abrash”).  And, carpets dyed with natural dyes age with a warm pleasing patina. Additionally, natural dyes are more environmentally friendly. Vegetal dyes are more labor intensive and require a large amount of dye material. Consequently, naturally dyed carpets are more expensive and may add a price premium of 30% to 50% over rugs made with synthetic dyes.
Although some people prefer the more uniform color characteristic derived from synthetic dyes I personally love the rustic beauty of natural dyes. The choice between natural and synthetic dyes is a matter of preference and cost. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish natural dyes from synthetic dyes. Here, rug veteran Steve Price discusses methods for distinguishing dyes.

Are finely knotted rugs better than others?

No… not really. A rug that is more finely woven (with more knots per inch or KPI) is not necessarily a better rug. A finer weave allows for more detail and smaller designs. Curved lines in a rug’s design can be “drawn” more smoothly and gracefully in a rug with many knots per square inch. It is the same thing as pixels in a picture. More pixels in an image allow for more detail and clarity. But it must be said that fine knotting alone does not make a rug good.  I have seen many finely woven yet unattractive rugs. Also, a fine weave simply is not appropriate in certain kinds of informal tribal or village rugs. It is more important to consider each rug individually. When judging a rug, the overall qualitative nature of the materials, the workmanship and the balance of designs/colors are more important than the easily quantifiable KPI.

What is the difference between hand spun and machine spun wool?

Before the machine age, weavers spun wool by hand to create yarn that makes up the pile of Oriental rugs.  But industrialization meant that by 1940 nearly all wool used in carpets was spun by machines. In a renaissance of traditional techniques begun in 1980, a small but appreciable number of weavers are again spinning wool by hand. Although some people prefer the uniformity and formal appearance that machine spun wool imparts to carpets, most connoisseurs value the effect produced by hand spun wool. When spun by hand, yarn absorbs more dye where it is loosely spun and less dye where it is spun tightly, thus producing pleasant variegation (know as “Abrash“) in the colors of a rug. Hand spun wool naturally requires more labor and thus rugs woven with handspun wool are more costly. But, the hand spinning process is less abrasive to the wool; more of the natural oils (lanolin) are retained and less fibers are broken. This produces a wool that is more resilient and carpets made with such wool will last long and wear better. Check out our glossary entry on handspun wool here.

How do I care for my Oriental rug?

(see Wash & Repair)

People think that because Oriental rugs are valuable, they must be pampered like fine China. But Oriental rugs have earned their reputation of being magical in part because of their sheer endurance. When dirty, they can be washed. If they are broken, they can be repaired or re-woven. Their dyes resist fading and running and their wool, full of natural oils (lanolin) keeps many potential stains from penetrating and setting. There are, however, some ways to maintain and protect your rug.

Our rugs are resistant to sunlight. They tend to mellow softy over time and develop a soft and warm patina. Nevertheless, direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight will fade your rug. If your rug is in a very sunny room, it is best to occasionally rotate it so that its UV exposure will be minimized. Also, think about using blinds or shades. If you have old windows that are not double-paned, there are UV protective coatings that can applied. These filters block many of the harmful UVs while not changing the quality of light. Nevertheless, your rug can withstand a normal amount of sunlight exposure without any noticeable effects.

Vacuum your rug regularly. Contrary to what some people think, vacuuming your rug is not harmful. It is the dirt that is trapped inside a rug’s pile that can lead to premature wear.  Some of todays vacuum cleaners are made for industrial carpets and have a very aggressive “powerhead” or “beater bar”. If this is the case, set the vacuum powerhead on a setting for thick carpeting or use only the suction attachment without the powerhead. Also, be careful of the fringe when you vacuum or even better, vacuum side-to-side to avoid the fringe. You may also broom your rug. Once a year, flip your rug upside-down and vacuum the underside of the carpet to remove dirt that works it’s way deeply into the pile and vacuum the floor under the rug too if it is dirty. This trapped dirt can be abrasive to the rug fibers. It is not recommended to beat your rug as this may break some of the fibers.

Rotate your rug (ie: turn in 180 degrees) occasionally. I usually rotate my living room rug once a year. This keeps wear patterns from forming in a rug that may get uneven use. Also, if you have windows on one wall, rotating a rug exposes different areas to the sunlight. Just like rotating the tires on you car, rotating your rug promotes a more even and uniform pattern of wear.

Water will not harm your rug. But in order to avoid mildew it is best to thoroughly dry damp areas within 24 hours. And watch-out for the potted plant! Do not place a potted plant directly on your rug. Be sure to use a plant stand. The dampness from a potted plant can become trapped between the pot and the carpet. In time, this can rot your carpet and create a perfectly round pot-sized hole in your rug.

Beware of moths. If a rug is used regularly, there is little chance of it becoming infested. Moths prefer undisturbed, dark places. Therefore, be carefull of any parts of a rug that are under furniture such as sections that may be under a couch or bed. Occasionally move the furniture and vacuum these areas. If you rug is small, placing it outside in direct sunlight for an hour from time-to-time can help. And, moths (or actually the moth larvae) prefer munching on dirty wool, so regular washing of your rug will help to prevent moth damage. Also, if you are storing a rug for any period of time take the following steps to prevent insect damage. Wash your rug before storage. Ask your rug washer to insect-repell you rug after washing. Wrap it in semi-pourus wrapping such as “Tyvek” brand. This product breaths but does not allow water infiltration. Do not use plastic because it does not breath and may result in mildew. As an option, add some dry lavender flowers to your rolled-up rug for the lovely smell and as a natural moth deterrent. Moth balls are not recommended. We are happy to prepare your rug for extended storage as described.

We recommend using rug padding under your rug. Although it is unlikely that you will damage your rug if you do not use padding, the general consensus is that padding will extend the life of your carpet or kilim. A good quality padding will prevent your rug from rubbing and abrading against the floor. Padding will also help to prevent slipping. It will also help to dampen noise. And I like the kush and luxurious feeling a padding imparts underfoot (and under-tush too). We have several options available from thin-ish “Wundergrip”, thicker “Durahold”, natural rubber “Rubber Anchor” and straight out of Texas “Teebaud” (which is a thin sticky pad that is excellent for area rugs on-top of wall-to-wall carpeting).

Have your carpet professionally washed. How often? Generally, every three to five years is enough. But, if your rug seems particularly dirty (or is it an entrance rug? do you have animals? etc.), have it washed more often. Washing your rug will prolong its life. Plus, a clean rug looks better. Nomad Rugs cleans rugs for $3.95 per square foot (for wool; additional charges for silk). Just drop your rug by the store. It usually takes a week. If we aren’t convenient, be sure to use a carpet cleaner who specializes in Oriental rugs. Steam cleaners and carpet shampoos are not acceptable and can actually harm your rug. Click here for our Wash and Repair page.

What do I do about spills and other accidents?

(see Wash & Repair)

Don’t panic. Most promptly treated spills are easily removed and do not leave permanent stains. The best medicine for spills is to get the substance out of the rug as fast as possible. If you spill an organic substance, use a paper towel or cloth. If the stain is an oil or a dense substance, use a spoon to scoop up as much as possible off first. Contrary to some common belief, pouring salt on a stain doesn’t do much of anything. After cleaning up the spill, dilute it with some water (or club soda is great too if you have it).  Blot-Rinse-Blot…repeat. If the rug’s dyes are bleeding or being transferred to your rag, STOP! Your rug has poorly made fugitive dyes (ps: not what we sell at Nomad Rugs) and should be handled by an expert who can take extra steps to stabilize these dyes.

Remember… blot at the stain. Do NOT scrub as this can un-twist and break the wool fibers. If the stain persists and the dyes are stable, use more water.  You could also use a few drops of dish washing soap diluted in water to create a very mild detergent. When you remove the stain, be sure to prop up the wet section of the rug so that it can dry thoroughly. Use a house-fan if needed to circulate air to help dry the wet area. It is not good to let a rug remain wet for more that a day as it may mildew. Still no luck? If the stain persists, bring it to a professional rug cleaner who deals with Oriental rugs. We suggest that you do not use chemical cleaners, “steam” cleaners or rug “shampoos” that are formulated for synthetic fibers and might damage your Oriental rug.

Pet stains and pet urine can be more troublesome if not treated immediately since they can cause permanent discoloration. Again: First remove as much of the foreign substance as possible with a paper towel or rag. Then, it is recommended to use a solution of white vinegar mixed with water to rinse the stain. Blot-Rinse-Repeat. The white vinegar will lessen dye bleed risk and will help to blot away the acidic pet stain. If you use a commercial “enzyme” cleaner formulated for pet accidents keep in mind that some are better than others…. If you do use one of these cleaners, it is suggested that you subsequently use a water-white vinegar solution as a final rinse to remove the “enzyme” cleaner.  Again, be sure to dry any damp areas thoroughly. With pet stains, after taking these immediate steps, I would suggest also using a professional Oriental rug washer to thoroughly clean your rug. Additionally, ask you rug washer to wash AND deodorize your rug to remove any possible odors.

For non-organic stains (such as dyes or chemicals), it would be best to bring the rug immediately to a professional Oriental rug washer.

As a final word, rest assured that most accidents and spills will not harm your rug. And to be sure that your cleaning efforts do not harm the rug either… keep these steps in mind: blot rather than scrub, no chemical cleaners, and if you use soap, use only a couple of drops. Also, after you clean your stain as described, be sure to dry the area thoroughly to prevent mildew. And when in doubt, bring your rug to a professional Oriental rug washer.