I know you all are chomping at the bit to get out there and buy your first Oriental rug, but there’s one last thing we should discuss before I send you out into the real, rug-buying world (I promise I’m not going to cry when that happens. I may shed a tear, but I won’t cry, per se).
You may be asking: “what else is there to learn? We’ve covered history, how they’re made, how to ‘read a rug,’ and the differences between natural dye/hand-spun wool/antique rugs and synthetic dye/machine-spun wool/modern rugs.”
The last thing you should know before you buy a rug is how to clean it.
That’s right: how to clean it.
If you already know you’re buying a new rug, good for you. But in a few months you’re most likely going to want to clean it and you’re going to wish you had read this article. So stick with me. We’re in this together, remember?
It’s a Carpet! It’s a Rug! It’s a…(n) Air Filter?
Some of you may be saying: “what’s the big deal? It’s just a rug. I can just take it out and beat it whenever it gets dirty.” Yes, you’re absolutely right. You could do that. But the problem is these rugs are made of wool. Wool is a natural filter for removing bacteria, dampness and dust from the air around it. Little did you know you get a two-in-one deal when you buy a rug: a decorative asset to your house and a lifetime replacement for the air filters in your house (please don’t neglect your air filters and think that a rug can actually replace them. Because it can’t). All that filtering makes for a dirty rug, though. And that ole “take it out and beat it” technique just will not cut through all that dust, bacteria, and dampness. It needs a deeper clean.
If you don’t believe me, there are other ways to check if your rug is dirty. You can do a corner test by picking up a corner of the rug and, while holding it up, kicking the underside of the rug. If a small amount of dust and wool fibers fly out, that’s totally normal. If a dust cloud that rivals The Dust Bowl circa 1930 comes from the rug, it’s probably time to clean it.
You can also check its cleanliness by rubbing the fabric with your hand in a half-circle motion for 5 to 10 seconds. If your hand is dirty, it’s a good sign the rug is also dirty. Onto the cleaning!
Mr. (or Mrs.) Clean
Just a heads-up, you’ll be doing more than just beating it.
The best place to do this is in a room you don’t mind getting a little dirty, like a utility room or your garage. You could even do it outside. Get some Vitamin D and clean your rug all at the same time! Just make sure whatever surface you’re working with is a clean surface.
First, you’ll need to vacuum both sides of the rug. Then you’re going to shampoo the rug with cool water and soap. You can use a mild liquid soap or a rug shampoo. DON’T use any kind of strong detergent or ammonia water. And make sure you test for color run in a small area before you begin. The last thing you want to do is ruin your priceless magic carpet. Next, you’ll need a soft, long-haired brush or a firm, non-shedding sponge. You’re going to brush the rug firmly in the direction of the weave. Make sure it is thoroughly saturated with soapy water (or rug shampoo).
Wash any rug details (like off-hanging fringes) in the same soapy water solution. Make sure you brush them away from the rug. Now rinse with running water. Using a rubber window squeegee (I’ve found this works best) to squeeze out the excess water. You’ll want to do this in the direction of the weave until you see no more water being forced out. Lay the rug flat to dry, and after one side feels dry to the touch, flip it over so the opposite side can dry. If the rug feels stiff, brush gently through it or vacuum on a light setting.
If you ever encounter a stain, it’s probably best to take it to a professional rug cleaner. Cleaning the whole rug is one thing, but spot treating a stain has the potential to go south if you don’t know what you’re doing. Some jobs are better left to the professionals.
Now you have this beautiful, clean Oriental rug. Good for you. But what happens when you notice the carpet all around is looking a little lackluster?
I had a good friend from the Houston area encounter this problem. He had just bought his first Oriental rug and he was so excited. He had his living room arranged just so, and the rug fit in perfectly with the rest of his interior design. He was planning on throwing a party to show off the new addition to his home. Until he noticed his carpets. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time they’d been cleaned. Luckily enough, he remembered a close friend of his had his carpets cleaned by Katy Carpet Cleaners and had nothing but good things to say about the whole experience.
My friend called them, and they were able to come to his house that same day. When they got there, they were careful with moving all the furniture and his new rug out of the way so they could get started. They were friendly and they were fast, but still did a great job on his carpet. My friend’s party went off without a hitch and thanks to Katy Carpet Cleaners, his carpet was almost getting more attention than his new rug.
The lesson to be learned here is don’t neglect the areas surrounding your rug. You don’t want your rug to stand out because it’s the cleanest thing in the room or because you don’t take care of your carpets. You want your rug to stand out because it is a masterpiece and should be treated as such.