It’s easy to tell the difference between a fine Oriental rug and wall-to-wall carpeting. One is an heirloom that will be handed down through the generations, and the other should be replaced after 10 to 15 years of wear and tear. One has designs and patterns stemming from centuries of cultural tradition and love, the other is typically monotone. It may seem obvious, but when it comes to cleaning, one needs careful care and attention, while the other can be quickly steam-cleaned.
When it comes to your fine Oriental rugs, steam cleaning is detrimental to the integrity of the rug. Wool contains lanolin, a sheep’s natural oil, which gives the rug its sheen and lustrous appearance. It is also a big part of what creates durability and longevity in the wool fibers. Unfortunately, the heat and detergents used in steam cleaning strips this lanolin out of wool. Very quickly, this will affect both the appearance and durability of your rug. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to completely rinse out the detergents from wool. Unlike nylon, which as a fiber is created to be smooth, wool has a naturally scaly structure. Detergents tend to get trapped in these scales. This compounds with time, as detergent residue attracts even more dirt, causing your fine Oriental rug to become grey and dirty even more quickly than it did before. Controlled, thorough and proper rinsing is the solution to this problem and unfortunately typical wall-to-wall cleaning methods (like the steam cleaners you can rent at the grocery store) just don’t cut it.
The only proven effective methods of cleaning Oriental rugs are cold water flood and immersion washing. Both these methods involve the use of cold water, large quantities of it, and carefully controlled methods to ensure dye stability. Additionally, rather than relying on harsh detergents, these methods use gentle shampoos to scrub the dirt from your rugs. The low temperatures help to keep the lanolin in your rug intact, preserving its long-term durability. The moisture penetrates deeper into the fiber helping to remove the deep and ground-in soil. Most importantly, the high volumes of water are the key to removing the excess shampoos ensuring the long-term beauty of your rug.
Serafian’s Oriental Rugs has the largest rug washing facility in the Southwest. To see a video on how Serafian’s does its washing, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hryLmj6_1-k
Wall-to-wall carpet is expected to be replaced every decade or so. Yet a good hand woven Oriental rug will last for generations. Where steam cleaning is a fast way to clean the carpet in your home, it’s a sure way to damage your favorite fine rug. Regular and proper cleaning is the most effective way to preserve the beauty and value of your rugs, and professional immersion and cold water washing methods are the only safe and effective way to have this done.
By Matt Gabel
Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years. Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com