A high-quality Oriental rug is a piece of art and an investment, not just a nice decoration. Also, unlike other assets, your rug can actually increase in value with age if you take good care of it.
Oriental rugs don’t need to be pampered. Part of their value is in their durability. However, they do need some basic maintenance and help with a few common problems. With the proper care, you can keep your rug lustrous and shining for decades to come.
You don’t have to deep-clean your rug every month or even every year. However, you should follow some simple steps to make sure it doesn’t accumulate damaged through everyday use.
Protect Your Rug from the Sun
Direct sunlight can ruin your rug in just a few weeks. If you place your rug in an area where the sun will hit it through the windows, its colors will fade and its weave will dry out. This problem affects every kind of rug, no matter what it’s made of or dyed with. Sunny rooms without direct sunlight might not pose a problem. However, you should check your rug for fading by looking to see if the colors on the front and the back have equal brightness.
Rotate Your Rug
Rugs are made to be walked on. However, constantly stepping on rugs in the same places can cause them to wear unevenly. Rotate or move rugs in high-traffic areas every month or so to prevent track marks from forming.
Eat Food Elsewhere
If you eat over your rug or put it under a dining room table, you risk damaging it with all kinds of food spills and stains. It’s best to put your rug in a room people don’t usually eat in.
Clean as Needed
Dirty rugs don’t look vibrant, and they also wear out faster than clean ones. When dirt and other things are ground into the surface of the rug, it wears down the fibers faster. To find out if your rug needs cleaning, wet a clean white cloth and gently rub a spot in the rug’s pile. If the cloth comes up dirty, your rug needs cleaning. You can also tell if your rug is dirty if it looks dull and flat. A well-cared-for rug should have a beautiful sheen. To clean your rug, the easiest option is to take it to a professional who specializes in Oriental rug cleaning. They can do a more thorough job, and they know which cleaners are safe to use.
If you prefer to clean the rug yourself, you can follow these steps:
Remove as much dirt as possible by vacuuming both sides. (Do not vacuum the fringe and do not use the beater bar.)
Mix one part white vinegar with three parts water and about 5 drops of your regular dishwashing detergent.
Use a spray bottle to spritz the solution onto your rug.
Use a white towel to wipe the solution along with the dirt (only in one direction with the pile, never against and never in a back and forth motion).
When done, spray a very fine mist of straight of clear vinegar.
Lay the rug flat to dry. If it’s still damp 3 or 4 hours later, use a floor fan to dry it more quickly.
A few pesky problems plague oriental rugs. Moths, carpet beetles, and mildew can all seriously damage your prized possession. Here’s what you can do to prevent these issues:
Small clothes moths in the larval stage love to feed on the wool in your oriental rug and chomp tracks through your rug’s pile. To check your rug for moths, look for these signs:
- Bare spots in your rug’s pile
- Thin white webs covering a patch of your rug
- Small particles that look like sand (these are larvae excretions)
You have a better chance of preventing moths if you actually use your rug and clean it when needed. Moths don’t like disturbances. Regular vacuuming can keep these little pests away.
Carpet beetles are small, dark brown or black insects. Similar to moths, beetle larvae like to feed on the wool in oriental rugs. Rather than leave tracks in the pile, they will eat holes right through the foundation. These bugs lay their eggs in dust and lint, and they prefer dark, quiet places. Keeping your rug clean and vacuuming will help prevent carpet beetles.
Mildew is usually a problem if you keep your rug in storage or if you put potted plants on it. Mildew and subsequently dry rot happen when your rug gets wet and stays wet for several days. Even if mildew doesn’t lead to dry rot, the smell is hard to get out. Never put potted plants on your rug, and make sure if you put it in storage, it will stay dry. If you must store a rug in the basement, make sure it is never directly on the concrete. If your rug gets wet some other way, soak up as much water as possible and use a floor fan to dry it out.
Oriental rugs can become family heirlooms that you hand down for generations. Keep your beautiful rug looking its best by taking proper care of it and preventing common problems.