Cleaning Your Rug

Rug Cleaning

Your rug may exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:

Shedding: It is characteristic for all synthetic and wool pile rugs to lose short fibers. This “shedding” process is often created when the pile is cut to required height during production and fibers fall onto the surface as “fluff.” Shedding is not considered a defect. The amount of shedding will vary based on material type and quality, pile height, age of the rug and knot density.

Sprouting: Certain types of yarns used in the making of rugs are “over-twisted” in order to give the rug the desired texture, and often a yarn tuft will rise above the surface (commonly called “sprouting”). Sprouting is one of the easiest issues to remedy by merely cutting the sprout (the yarn sticking up above the surface) with a pair of scissors so that it is flush with the rug’s surface. DO NOT PULL THE SPROUT AS IT CAN CAUSE ADDITIONAL DAMAGE TO THE RUG. Also, be aware that high heels can cause sprouting as well, even in flat–weave rugs.

Curling: The term “curling” can be used to describe a couple of situations with respect to your rug. Rugs are often shipped rolled tightly into a cylindrical shape. Sometimes, when the rugs are initially unpacked, the edges will curl under, refusing to lay flat. The rug’s foundation or backing must be given time to relax after being unpacked. Often times, reverse rolling the rug will speed the relaxing process. Curling can also be a sign in hand knotted rugs of a very finely and tightly woven piece. Often times, sewing strips of leather along the edges in cases such as these will prevent curling. This should be undertaken only by a professional rug repair workshop.

The term “curling” is also used to describe the stretching/wrinkling that occurs when a rug is placed on top of wall–to–wall carpet, often times with heavy furniture placed on the rug’s surface. Again, this is not a defect of the rug, although in such cases the rug will never lay flat again. It is simply due to the fact that the rug’s foundation has been stretched.

Other Maintenance Facts

Insect Damage: Rugs should be checked periodically for evidence of insect infestation, which can be brought into your house by pets, flowers or food. Your rug’s worst enemy is the moth. While adult moths will not eat wool, their larvae feed on it in dark, quiet, warm places, such as areas hidden under furniture. Therefore, regular cleaning is necessary to avoid moth infestation. Moving your rug into the hot sun for a few hours every now and then is a good precaution. Moths are most active during the summer months, so exercise special care during this time. While there are anti–moth sprays on the market, you must be sure that they will not harm your rug’s fibers or colors before applying them.

Camphor powder has been used for many years to deter moths. Dusting the back of your rug with camphor powder and lightly shaking it can be an effective preventative measure.

Crushing: Heavy furniture may damage your rug. If the feet of your furniture are sharp or are made of metal, you must use some sort of protector prior to setting such furniture on top of your rug. There are many types of protectors available. Furniture floaters, which have a smooth surface and adhere directly to the legs of your furniture, leave minimal indentations on the surface of your rug. If the pile of your rug has become crushed and you wish to attempt to restore it to its normal height, try brushing the affected area gently with a soft brush.

Fading: Excessive fading can occur if a rug is exposed to long periods of strong sunlight and is best avoided by either repositioning the rug or drawing blinds or draperies. Any light over the years, however, will gradually mellow the colors and sometimes this subdued coloration can be an advantage. Faded, mellow colors are often very appealing to many rug connoisseurs.

Cleaning Products: While you will certainly want to ensure that all cleaning products you may choose to apply directly to your rug are safe and will not cause damage to your rug, you should also be aware that some cleaning agents used in close proximity to your rug can have harmful effects, although they might not be applied directly to the rug itself. Perform a thorough check of all cleaning agents to be used on underlying surfaces and in surrounding areas, such as baseboards, windows, etc., to ensure that they are safe to be used around your rug.

Plant Lovers, Beware: Continuous dampness resulting from over–watering and spilling of flower pots and planters placed directly on a rug can lead to mildew rot, which is an irreparable type of damage, and color transfer, if the rug is placed atop wall–to–wall carpeting.

Rug Storage: If you need to store your rug for any lengthy amount of time, first make sure that it is clean and dry. It is advisable to treat it with a moth repellent (see “Insect Damage”), then roll the rug into a tight cylinder against the nap and wrap in a breathable fabric, such as a sheet. Plastic wrapping will prevent the rug from breathing. The rug should be stored in a cool, dry, well–ventilated area. Some larger hand knotted rugs can be stored folded if not too tightly woven, however these too should be treated for moths and stored in breathable fabric. Never store heavy objects on your rolled or folded rugs, as this could cause permanent damage by creasing the rug and, in some cases, breaking the foundation or backing of a tufted rug.


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