Cleaning Tips Area Rug Cleaning

Area Rug Cleaning Tips

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Spot cleaning of area rugs helps reduce stains, but a professional will clean it more thoroughly.

A clean area rug is a stylish and popular accessory in many households. It beautifies the home and makes it cozy and inviting.

Area rugs, however, are exposed to tremendous wear and tear on a daily basis. They trap dust, dirt, mud, odors and oils due to heavy foot traffic, pet accidents, smoking and spills. A proper area rug cleaning and maintenance routine will prolong the life of your rug, and prevent it from wearing out prematurely.

Avoid store-bought carpet shampoo on area rugs

Some homeowners prefer DIY methods and spot clean their area rugs at home with store-bought carpet shampoos and detergents. Unfortunately, these harsh cleaners are designed for wall-to-wall carpeting with synthetic fibers. These carpet shampoos are not designed for natural fiber rugs.

Area rugs have rich dyes that may easily bleed and discolor not only the rug itself, but also the floor underneath. Some of this damage may be irreversible.

In the event of a spill and stain, blot all excess liquid with a cloth or paper towel. Loosen the stain with a little club soda, if necessary.

One advantage to hiring a company that specializes in cleaning Oriental rugs, for instance, is that most will pick up your rug and reinstall it.

Area rug cleaning vs. carpet cleaning    

Carpet cleaners are often mistaken for area rug cleaners. However, the process of carpet cleaning is completely different than the one for area rug cleaning.

Carpet cleaners come to your home and steam clean your area rug right then and there. They add abrasive carpet cleaners to wash your area rug then extract the water, often leaving detergent residue that accumulates in the rug and makes natural fibers clump and stick to each other.

Moreover, a heavy area rug may remain damp for at least 24 to 48 hours, enough time to start breeding bacteria and mold.

The surface below an area rug can be damaged in the process, not only due to possible discoloration from bleeding dyes, but also from the dampness and humidity of a wet rug. Steam cleaning is standard for synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, but it's not appropriate and is often damaging to delicate, handmade and natural fiber rugs, such as wool and silk.

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Professional area rug cleaning

Professional area rug cleaners come to your home to inspect your rug. They analyze the fibers, dyes, origin and condition of the rug to determine the appropriate cleaning solution. They take the time to answer questions and give an estimate for the proposed work.

Once you're satisfied with the best approach, your rug is taken to a dedicated facility where the rug is analyzed again in even greater detail. It is dusted using a gentle compressed air technique that removes dirt and small particles. Your rug is then hand cleaned and gently rinsed to avoid color runs.

Just like the washing process is particular to your type of area rug, so is the drying method.

Some rugs are hung to dry naturally, with gravity pulling the water out, while others are dried flat and some are dried using a fresh air breeze. During the rug-drying process, trained technicians comb, brush or fluff the pile to bring out the natural beauty of your rug. No harsh chemicals or rough machines are ever used to wash or dry your area rugs.

Why You Shouldn't Clean Area Rugs Like Carpets    

Traditional carpet cleaning methods may damage Oriental rugs.

If your home features both area rugs, such as Persian or Oriental rugs, and regular carpet as floor coverings, you should never clean your area rugs like you would your carpet.

Here’s why: The wall-to-wall carpet in your home is typically manufactured on a machine that uses synthetic material to produce 15 feet of carpet per minute. The carpet’s primary components are a face fiber held in place with latex adhesive and a plastic backing material.

Cleaning wall-to-wall carpets

Most household wall-to-wall carpets lend themselves to steam cleaning from a carpet cleaning company because it’s the simplest and fastest way to clean them and make sure they dry quickly.

Especially when dealing with carpets made from nylon, polyester or other plastic-based fibers, using a steam cleaner is more than adequate.

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Giving area rugs special treatment

Most area rugs, particularly hand-knotted rugs, are made entirely made by hand from all-natural materials. It can take as little as a month to make or up to two years or longer to produce a single handmade rug such as a Persian or Oriental rug.

The majority of area rugs or Oriental rugs are made with wool, a highly complex animal fiber. If you looked at it under a microscope, you can see that wool fibers have scales and hundreds of small crevices that can trap soil.

Handmade area rugs are also made entirely of fiber rather than fiber held in place with a backing like carpet. This means that to get a rug 100-percent clean, it must be cleaned all the way through, not just on the surface, which is how steam cleaning carpet is performed.

Area rugs can also be made of many other natural fibers such as silk, cotton, jute or others, which means cleaning an area rug is a custom job every time. Proper rug cleaning cannot be performed by simply running a steam cleaner over the front and back. At best, that type of cleaning would be cosmetic and only temporary; at worst, it could cause irreversible damage.

Hiring a professional carpet cleaner    

Your area rugs are a one-of-a-kind investment, so don’t trust their cleaning and care to just anyone.

Do your homework and look for a cleaner with the education, experience and expertise to care for your rugs safely and effectively.

Two organizations that provide training certifications are the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or IICRC, and Master Rug Cleaner. Both organizations' websites list those individuals who have completed their training programs.

Rug Cleaning: Handmade vs. Machine Made

From Oriental or Persian rugs to machine-made rugs, a carpet cleaning expert explains how to clean your rug without causing damage.

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Hand-knotted rugs vs. tufted

A lot of time goes into making hand-knotted rugs, including Persian or Oriental rugs.

Picture a loom with threaded warp yarns from top to bottom. Tufts of wool are then tied around these warp yarns from side to side to create the knot. Once a row has been completed, a weft yarn will be threaded through the warp yarn to tighten the knots and start to build the foundation of the rug. As more and more rows are completed, the rug slowly but surely is becoming the handmade work of art that it truly is.

Small rugs (two to four feet wide) usually can be made by one person in two to three months’ time. However, some of the larger area rugs (12 to 14 feet wide) can take a team of three weavers sitting side-by-side anywhere from six months to a year to complete.

The oldest surviving rug is called the "Pazyryk carpet," and it dates back about 2,500 years. However, there is evidence that the art of rug making might be much older than that. China, India, Iran (formerly Persia) and Pakistan are currently the biggest producers of hand-knotted rugs.

Rugs knotted by hand tend to be extremely durable — so much so that they can last for generations. And when something is on the floor for that long, it can get really dirty.

In fact, a recent study reports that a 9-by-12-foot Oriental rug can hold up to 87 pounds of dry soil without even looking dirty. This is why proper care and cleaning is critical to the longevity of such area rugs.    

Hand-tufted rugs, on the other hand, are created by pushing wool into a primary fabric, either by hand or with the use of a tufting gun

Once the pushing of the wool is completed, the back of the rug is glued in order to secure the tufts in place.

To give the rug a more finished look, the back is then covered up with a jute or cotton cloth.

The result can be very hard to tell apart from a hand-knotted rug unless you know what to look for. The telltale sign is the back of the rug.

The biggest producers of tufted rugs are China and India.

Both type of rugs (hand knotted and hand tufted) are technically handmade. However, there is a big difference in how these rugs perform over the long term.

A hand-knotted rug with its solid foundation can stand up to years and years of use, but a hand- (or gun-) tufted rug won’t. Under high-traffic conditions, the glue that holds this type of rug together will start breaking down.

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Machine-made rugs

Machine-made rugs, as the name implies, are made with the use of machines.

However, there is a vast difference between a machine woven wool rug, and a manufactured olefin rug

Machine-woven rugs, such as American-made Karastan rugs, are of high quality and hard to distinguish from a hand-knotted rug.

In lower quality machine-made rugs, threads are glued or looped onto a synthetic backing that cools as it hardens. Most often, these machine-made rugs are created with acrylics and other chemically-processed materials.

Rug cleaning tips

The proper method of cleaning for a rug differs from carpet cleaning methods and is largely dictated by how a rug is made.

Hand-knotted rugs can be thoroughly dusted and washed to restore them back to “like-new” condition. Even pet accidents and odor issues can almost always successfully be dealt with.

However, tufted rugs, because of their construction, provide some unique cleaning challenges.

Because of the vast differences in materials used, construction, after-market treatments, pre-existing conditions and the effects of cleaning on the texture of the face yarns, it’s important to work with a carpet cleaning professional experienced in rug identification in order to avoid costly mistakes.

A seasoned carpet cleaning professional will be able to identify a hand-knotted from a machine-made rug, wool from cotton and the myriad of potential cleaning problems each presents and advise you on best practices for the cleaning and repair of fine textiles.

Two Mistakes Oriental Rug Owners Should Avoid    

For many homeowners, owning an oriental rug can be a rewarding experience, but there are some mistakes to avoid.

Working with fine, hand-crafted rugs is a rewarding experience, but there are some mistakes that customers frequently make, so we’d love to share a few of them to ensure that you’re getting the most out of owning one of these handmade pieces.

1. Not getting a finely made rug cleaned every two to four years

One of the most frequent problems that we run into, as a rug cleaning and repair service, is that a customer will every so often assume that they can either clean their hand woven rugs by themselves, or just surface clean it with a vacuum cleaner.

While surface care for a fine rug is important, a customer who doesn’t give their high-quality rugs a high-quality deep cleaning job is allowing the beauty and charm of her or his rug to diminish below a layer of stains and dust.

A professional deep cleaning service is key to keeping a handmade rug’s design looking just as vibrant as the day it was woven. Processes such as odor-lifting soaks just can’t be replicated at home and are important for removal of such common blemishes as pet stains and food or liquid spills.

2. Not knowing the history of their rug

Is the rug in your living room an Indo-Persian, or is it a Sino-Persian? What type is it? Kashan? Tabriz? Kazak?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’re missing out on the best part of owning a hand woven rug. When you buy an imported rug, you don’t just buy a floor covering, you buy a piece of history. Every rug design has a story behind it, and they’re all worth telling.

Outside of pure entertainment and educational value, the information about your rug has financial implications. The antique rug in your living room may be worth thousands more than you think it does; it’s all about where, how and when your rug was made.

Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to learn more about your rug. Next time you go to get your rug cleaned or repaired, make sure to ask your cleaner or repairman about the history behind your rug.

It’s no trouble for him or her to answer your questions, because it’s quite common for customers to do so. In fact, learning more about their rugs is one of the most common things for our customers to enjoy and take away from their experience with us. Don’t be afraid to ask your cleaning service about your rug!

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Cleaning Tips for Your Area Rug    

One highly rated provider explains rug cleaning tips that can help keep your rug clean and bright in between regular professional cleanings.

A truly clean area rug has a brightness to it. That brightness is dulled over the years as dust settles from the top of a rug’s pile deep into its foundation, which is typically made of cotton.

The process of soiling happens so gradually that many people don’t even notice it. This process is inevitable – not even regular vacuum cleaning can stop dust from working its way down little by little over time. However, there are cleaning techniques that can keep your rug looking its best for years.

Deep cleaning a rug is a two-part process: dusting and then washing. Dusting is the process of inverting a rug and then vibrating the back of it so that dry soil is loosened. Once all the dry dirt falls out of the rug, a wet process of cleaning can begin.

If soap and water are put onto a dusty rug before the dusting, a kind of sludge is created that sticks to the rug’s fibers and foundation. When the rug dries, it will lack the brightness of a rug that was properly dusted prior to washing. Dry dirt is also gritty in texture and acts like sandpaper on your rug’s foundation. A rug with dry rot is usually a rug with a very dirty foundation.

Between thorough professional cleanings, which should take place every one to five years, depending on the amount of foot traffic that your rugs get, we recommend the following for home care:

» A small rug can be taken outside and shaken or gently beat on the back to knock out the dry dirt. This process is much kinder to the rug than cleaning with the rotating brush head found on most vacuums today. The “beater bar” on older model vacuum cleaners is even worse for your rugs as aggressive vacuum cleaning in general breaks down rug fibers, increasing shedding and the appearance of wear.

» Once dust has fallen out of the rug, then the rug can be swept with a natural bristle broom or tidied up with the bare floor attachment of the vacuum. Using a broom on a wool rug has the added benefit of lightly agitating the yarn pile, bringing up the lanolin in the wool. Lanolin is what makes wool soft and shiny and even provides some natural stain resistance.

» Larger rugs can be swept with a broom to loosen dry dirt and pet hair. Use the broom to brush all of the soil onto the floor and then vacuum the floor around the rug with the bare floor attachment. If you prefer vacuum cleaning your rugs rather than sweeping them with a broom, then just use the bare floor attachment for the gentlest cleaning.

» Sweeping is also very good for cleaning and smoothing the fringe of an Oriental rug as there are no worries about a broom sucking up and breaking the delicate cotton fibers. If you feel that you must use your vacuum for this task due to the presence of pet hair, start at the center of the rug and vacuum out to the edges, never back and forth. This center-out technique will prevent the fringe from being sucked up into the vacuum cleaner.

   


Area Rug Cleaning Tips