In our modern world, not much is built to last. Most furnishings are made to last between 5 and 15 years, after which they start to look a little worn and ragged. Fine Oriental rugs however stand out as a shining exception and can last for generations. This is especially impressive when you consider just how rough the traffic most rugs receive really is. Like most things, proper care plays an important role in preserving the life and value of your oriental rugs. Here are some quick tips to keeping your favorite rugs in great shape.
Keep your carpet clean
Dirt is the worst enemy of fine Oriental rugs. Dirt is abrasive, and when it gets packed into the base of the knots it will actually cut off the fibers from the pile. We recommend vacuuming your rug at least weekly. Your vacuum should have an agitator or beater bar, set so that it beats the surface lightly. Excessive pressure of the beater bar can cause extra wear. Also, we recommend every two years having your carpet professionally washed. Proper washing removes all dirt that has collected in the carpet, restores the original colors of the rug, and rehydrates the wool in dry climates. Professional washing can only be done outside your home, so never allow anyone to come to your house and do a surface cleaning on your rug. Most services that come to the home are set up to clean wall to wall carpets, and your Oriental rug is very different. It is especially important that you never allow anyone to “steam clean” your Oriental rugs as this can cause the colors to bleed, and strips vital lanolin from the wool.
Walk on your carpet (Barefoot if you can)
Oriental carpets are made to be walked on. In the Middle East, most people remove their shoes when they enter a home, leaving the dirt on their shoes outside. In America we generally don’t do this, so timely cleaning becomes essential. Rubber soled shoes are hard on rugs, and tear at the wool fibers, wearing them prematurely. Bare feet or stocking feet are best for the rugs whenever possible. Walking on the carpet massages the lanolin through the wool, giving the carpet a beautiful luster. It also discourages moths from laying eggs on the carpet.
Moth Resist vulnerable areas
Moths look for dark, moist places to lay their eggs. It is actually the larvae which do the damage to any wool garment or rug, not the moths themselves. At Serafian’s, we spray a colorless, odorless solution that discourages the moths from laying eggs on any susceptible areas. Whenever a wool rug is hung on the wall it needs to be sprayed with this moth repellent.
Rotate your rug to even out wear
It is common that we walk through rooms in certain ways, establishing traffic pattern that receive more wear. With time, this can cause uneven wear patterns to form in your rug. Rotate your rug 180 degrees every six months to keep the wear and tear looking more even and less pronounced.
Prevent Sun Fading
The desert Southwest has particularly harsh sunlight which can fade the rug. Many rugs get exposed to sunlight unevenly, causing fading only on part of the rug. Turn your rug 180 degrees in the room periodically to avoid uneven fading. This also helps your rugs wear more evenly. Close shades and blinds when you are not in the room to reduce the direct sunlight on your rugs. There are also window films available that reduce the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. These films are applied to the window surface, and help block harmful rays. Look for “Low-E” films.
Blot up spills with clear cold water
Spills and stains are an inevitable part of a rug’s life. You should clean spills immediately, as many drinks can permanently dye the rug. Blot up the spill with a fresh towel, and use a little clear cold water to dilute the stain. Keep rinsing (not too much water) and blotting until the stain is gone. If someone spills milk on the carpet, it is probably a good idea to have the rug professionally cleaned, as the milk can sour and leave an unpleasant odor. Coffee, red wine, blood, and dark sodas can all leave permanent stains, so get to them as quickly as possible. If you have a “wet/dry” vacuum you can use it to suck out excess water from the rug.
Our beloved pets sometimes have “accidents”. Urine is particularly bad about staining, because it is acidic, but becomes alkali when it dries, which can cause dyes to bleed. Also, left untreated, urine will leave an odor that is very hard to remove. For urine stains, use the same procedure as above, but mix in about 50% white vinegar and be sure to rinse thoroughly. A thorough professional washing is required to sanitize the rug after a urine incident.
Repair any damaged areas quickly
Most repairs are very simple when they first appear. Attend to any tears or damage quickly. When we wash rugs at Serafian’s, we often see major repairs that would have been very minor if they had been attended to just six months sooner. Left unattended, many simple repairs become major repairs.
With these simple guidelines nearly any rug can last for decades if not generations. It is not at uncommon for us to see rugs come into our store that are over 100 years old and have been in use for their whole life.