Care and Maintenance of Persian and Oriental Rugs



General Principles

Rugs are made to be used, this means that walking on them is normal. However, a few tips and a little care cannot hurt. For example, it is advisable to change position, and turn the rugs periodically, or to switch them around to prevent their getting worn unevenly. Another good rule is to air them at each change of season. Also, be careful to avoid lengthy exposure to moisture and damp.


On the average, cleaning once a year should be sufficient, but this may vary from case to case. In general, the rugs can be cleaned frequently without any risk or problems. Usually the rugs are washed before being put on sale, and this applies to new ones too! The washing fixes the colours so it is also a form of final testing. This type of washing, however, does not always succeed in fixing the colours permanently, therefore, in some cases it is advisable to have new rugs dry-cleaned rather than washed to prevent the colours from fading, running and staining the whites and light colours. Old and antique rugs can be washed or dry-cleaned, however, washing is preferable and it gives better results.

Day-to-Day Cleaning

There are many methods for keeping your rugs clean and beautiful. Since not all rooms are exposed to dust and dirt to the same extent there is no fixed rule as to how often a rug should be cleaned. Anyone can see when a rug needs to be cleaned. In generally it is sufficient to sweep with a common broom or similar type brush. You can also use a vacuum cleaner or brush. If necessary, the rug can be beaten with a carpet-beater or a thin cane, do not hang the rug, but lay it flat on a rack or grid, first do the top and then the underside. Carpet-sweepers are more suitable for fitted, wall-to-wall carpets than Oriental rugs. However, they can be used for large, sturdy rugs. It is best to clean on the underside, so that the carpet-sweeper rollers do not deplete the pile. Never shake your rug: the harsh back-and-forth motion deforms the weft with respect to the warp and over the long term will cause the ends to fray and deteriorate. [↑index]

To Restore the Brightness of the Colours

To keep their rugs bright and enliven the colours, some homemakers clean them with tea leaves wrapped in a clean cloth. Instead of tea leaves you can also use water and ammonia, water and white vinegar or diluted trichloroethylene. All of these methods are good, but you must be careful not to wet the rug, just a quick, damp wipe is enough. Remember, this is only a surface cleaning and cannot entirely  replace a thorough washing/dry cleaning. [↑index]

Cleaning with Chemicals (Foams, shampoos, etc.)

You can use other methods, developed for fitted carpets such as dry foams, etc., but you must be careful. You must especially make sure that the rug does not retain - soak up - the chemicals because they can damage the fibres over the long term. If you want to steam-clean your rug, you must first vacuum it thoroughly, otherwise any dust trapped in the fibres will solidify when it comes into contact with the steam. [↑index]

Rugs and Moths

Moths can be a menace to rugs, even though not all rugs are vulnerable to the same extent. In general if a home is lived in rugs are not at risk. However, is the rug is covered by a piece of furniture for a long time so that it cannot be cleaned, or if the rug is in a room where it is constantly exposed to dust, it is at severe risk of attack by moths. If you have to put your rug into storage for any reason, make sure that the place is dry, and preferably cool; before putting the rug away, clean it thoroughly, sprinkle with mothballs or camphor and roll it up it in newspaper or any other type of wrapper. These measures are only effective for limited periods, it is advisable to repeat the process after one year. [↑index]

Moisture: A Rug's Worst Enemy

Moisture is a rug's worst enemy. If a rug absorbs moisture constantly and over a long period the fibres comprising the base, that is the weft and warp, deteriorate irremediably and the rug will tear in the spots where mildew has formed. A typical example is a potted plant or vase of flowers standing on a rug without appropriate waterproof protection underneath: within a few weeks the part under the vase will rot and the surrounding area will also be damaged. [↑index]

Rugs and Stains

Stains are another inevitable problem. It is obvious that a rug exposed to constant wear, especially if it is under a dining room table, in a foyer or living room, will get stained sooner or later. Generally, stains do not set in a rug that is exposed to normal wear thanks to the fact that the wools used in making it keep a small amount of the natural oils that makes them almost impermeable. To remove some surface stains all you have to do is brush it well, most brush-resistant stains can be removed with normal detergents. However, there are some substances that create stains which require special treatment. One relatively common type of stain that requires immediate action is produced by pet urine. In case of such an accident it is best to contact a specialized cleaner immediately or talk to your rug dealer. [↑index]