As of this writing (March 2017) area rugs have gained quite a significant market share over the past decade. As more and more customers remove carpeting in favour of hard surfaces such as wood, ceramic tile, laminates, and stone, rug ownership has skyrocketed.
With more rugs in homes and offices, cleaning and maintaining them has become a growing concern amongst customers. Before discussing proper care, it's vital to identify the basic construction of the rug. There are two main categories of rug materials: Synthetic and Natural. There are also rugs which are created with a blend of both synthetic and natural materials. Cleaning and maintaining synthetic rugs is quite similar to cleaning and caring for installed carpet, so for purposes of this guide we'll stick with Oriental-style rugs made of natural materials.
When talking about synthetic and natural rugs, it's important to understand that the face fibres (the pile of the rug) or foundation/backing may be synthetic, natural, or in some cases both. For example, a "Wool Rug" usually describes the face fibres; however the backing can be synthetic or natural. Both the backing and face fibres are of equal concern to the professional rug cleaner. It's safer to clean any rug with the cleaning detergent and method designed for the most sensitive part of the rug. More frequently, synthetic materials aren't as sensitive as natural materials. Therefore in the "Wool Rug" example above, even if the rug has a synthetic backing, it's better to treat the entire rug as a wool rug. More about cleaning detergents and methods below.
Wool is by far the most popular naturally-constructed material found in the pile of Oriental style rugs. Other natural rug face fibre materials consist of cotton, silk, grass (sisal, jute), animal skins, and even materials like leather and paper. If you are the owner of an animal skin, silk, grass, leather, or paper rug, I highly suggest you send your rug to a professional Rug Cleaning company for proper cleaning. These rugs are extremely difficult to clean and permanent damage will occur if cleaned improperly.
Dry Soil Removal
A high quality rug should last over a lifetime and the best way to help it last that long is by hoovering often. Exactly how often depends on usage. Usually once a week is often enough, however if pets walk on the rug or the rug receives a high amount of foot traffic, hoovering once or twice a day may be necessary. Dense Oriental rugs have a tendency to hide micro-soiling and sand that builds up deep in the foundation. Over time these fine dry soils will prematurely cause wear to the rug.
Poorer quality rugs, especially some hand-tufted inexpensive rugs, (usually made in China, Pakistan and India) may shed face fibres quite a lot during vacuuming. This is normal for these type of rugs. Unfortunately though, these inexpensive Oriental rugs will probably not last very long unless not walked on.
If your rug has fringes, please make sure not to use a hoover with a beater bar attached to it. Instead either try gently brushing the fringe with a brush designed for fringe, or use an attachment on your hoover without a beater bar to remove dry soil from fringe. As a rug cleaning company with over 40 years of rug cleaning experience, the number one complaint we see from customers is premature fringe wear caused by the customer hoovering the fringe with a beater bar.
Spot and Spill Clean up
Inevitably there will be time that someone accidentally spills something on your Oriental rug or notice a spot from something that was tracked in on it. It's always best to immediately blot or scoop up the excess spot or spill, as much as possible. We recommend using a dry white cotton towel or white paper towels to soak up the majority of the spot or spill. If you happen to choose a towel that is not white, there is a possibility the colour of the towel will transfer to the rug.
Please bear in mind that before using any spot cleaner on a rug (including merely water), it's best to test in a small and hidden area. Unfortunately there may not be such an area to test, especially on a small rug. In this case test it near the edge of the rug since it's usually less noticeable than the centre if the test reveals colour loss or texture change. If you notice a colour change, bleeding, or texture change, stop immediately and call a professional and qualified rug cleaning company for assistance.
After careful blotting and testing according to the instructions above, first try to remove any remaining spot with tap water. Make sure not to soak the rug. Simply dampen a white towel or paper towel with water and blot, but do not rub. If you don't notice any improvement at all, the safest solution to use as a general spot cleaner is to mix 1 litre of tap water and 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Under no circumstance use automatic dishwasher soap or laundry detergents as many of these products contain optical brighteners or harsh chemicals that can ruin the rug.
Dust and spot removal are very important maintenance steps to take between thorough cleanings, but Oriental rugs do need to be thoroughly washed as well on a regular basis. In most cases cleaning the entire rug once a year is enough, but if the rug has a lot of foot traffic, is prone to spills and spots, or pets and kids use the rug often, the rug may need to be thoroughly cleaned more regularly, around every 3 to 6 months. There are many ways to clean a rug and it is well beyond the scope of this guide to determine the best method in each and every case. Having said this, the most thorough cleaning is achieved by the Immersion Washing. Full immersion cleaning is accomplished by scrubbing the rug under water and safely removing the excess water and soil with a roller system, speed drying the rug, and cleaning the fringe. I do not recommend customers attempt to immerse their Oriental Rugs due to the many risks involved that can happen including bleeding, foundation shrinkage, degradation from being wet too long, and many other problems. Please check online to locate a qualified professional Rug Cleaning company.
High quality Oriental rugs are built extremely durable and can endure many years of use. To make your rugs last even longer, help make them softer on the feet, and to provide in-place stability, the use of a high quality rug underlay is highly recommended. There are several types of rug underlays and anti-slips to consider and the selection of the right pad is dependent on the surface the rug will cover and also the thickness of the rug. Please speak to your local Oriental rug dealer or professional rug cleaning company to help you choose the correct rug underlay.