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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 be 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 today’s 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 its 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 your 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 careful 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-repel your rug after washing. Wrap it in semi-porous wrapping such as “Tyvek” brand. This product breaths but does not allow water infiltration. Do not use plastic because it does not breathe 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 a mesh style “Wundergrip” pad to a thicker and solid “Durahold” padding.

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 $5.50 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 made for industrial carpeting and can harm your hand made rug. Click here for our Wash and Repair page.