13 Jan How to clean oriental rugs
Oriental rugs are very different from carpets when it comes to cleaning. Knowing how to clean oriental rugs properly can make the difference between bringing them back to life or permanent damage.
Although they sit on top of your carpet or hardwood floor, oriental rugs or any type of rug are made very differently and from different material than carpet so depending on what it’s made from will determine how you clean your oriental rug.
Can you clean an oriental rug yourself?
Regular carpets for the home are made by machine so that they can be mass-produced in order to keep the price affordable. If your rug is machine made then you can treat it in the same way as a carpet and clean it yourself.
If you spent a lot of money on your rug then it will probably be hand-knotted and hand-woven and that means that it needs to be treated with a lot more care than a regular carpet in order to keep it in great condition.
If you are not sure if your rug is handmade then all you need to do is turn it over and see if it is knotted on the back.
If it was less expensive and perhaps purchased to brighten up a room or cover up a carpet that was a bit worn out then you can just go ahead and clean it in the same way as you would your regular carpet.
If you paid a lot of money for a handmade rug that is made of wool and is hand-knotted then you should probably get it professionally deep cleaned once every 5 years but you can give it a good clean yourself over and above the normal hoovering about once a year.
Home cleaning an Oriental rug
The fibre on most carpets is made in a way that makes it easy to keep it clean. the dirt just slips off the fibre and as long as you vacuum your home on a regular basis then a normal hoover will do the job.
With a pure wool rug, over time the dirt will attach itself to the fibre of the rug and regular hoovering won’t get it out and when you press the hoover onto the rug it will just push the dirt further down into the bottom of the rug.
Before you even begin cleaning with water and a detergent cleaning solution you have one big advantage with rugs that you don’t have with carpets. You can lift them off the floor and give them a good bashing.
You need to remove as much of the dirt as possible before you even start any kind of wet cleaning.
Beat the back of the rug
Choose a nice day and take your rug outside. Hang it over something like a washing line or on the top of two chairs.
Next, beat the hell out of it. Make sure its face down first because you want to beat the back of it for two reasons. You don’t want to damage the front of the rug and the main reason is that by hitting the back of the rug you will release all of the dirt that has been pushed deep into the rug fibres.
Use a golf club (a driver works really well) or a baseball bat or anything hard that will get as much dirt out as possible. If you do it over a concrete surface instead of the grass you will be quite surprised at the amount of dirt that comes out that you thought you were cleaning every week.
If you don’t do that first, when it comes to the actual cleaning part all you will be doing is mixing water with dirt and you’ll look at it afterwards and wonder why it doesn’t look that much different from when you started.
Vacuum the rug for 10 minutes
Give it a good hoover with your vacuum cleaner. A lot of the dirt that has been sitting at the bottom of the woven fibres will have come out but some will now be sitting at the top of the fibres and your vacuum cleaner will now be able to suck up the remaining dirt that is not stuck to the rug fibres.
Even if it doesn’t look like much is being sucked up, keep going over it for about 10 minutes to make absolutely sure you leave no loose dust or dirt in the rug.
Clean with a carpet cleaner
The only way to bring a rug back to an as new condition is to vigorously agitate the fibres and remove the dirt with detergent.
Using water alone will not work or at best will make a small difference and if you don’t agitate the fibres of the rug at the same time as applying water and detergent then you are not going to get the desired outcome.
You can either pay north of £100 to get it done professionally by someone else or do it yourself with a carpet cleaner and get the same result because these instructions are what they will do anyway.
Maybe they have bigger and better machines but you can achieve 95% of what they will and for the price a “professional” rug cleaner will charge you can do it yourself.
For the money you would have paid them you can have a carpet cleaner that you can use over and over again for your carpets and rugs and it will last for many years.
A carpet cleaner pumps water and detergent onto the rug and sucks up a lot of the water at the same time as it agitates the dirty fibres of the rug with large rotating brushes.
Carpet cleaners used to be huge and cumbersome and really expensive but if you choose the right one they now operate just like a regular vacuum cleaner and don’t cost the earth.
Once you have one, it’s an investment that will pay itself back many times over compared to renting and it’s going to last a very long time as well because its not something you get out every week.
Here are some of the best carpet cleaners for you to consider:
Most carpet cleaners have different modes such as deep clean and express clean that dictates the amount of water that gets pushed into the fibres of the carpet.
Use the express mode or “quick dry” mode and do that twice as opposed to soaking the rug in water for better results.
With express or quick dry, the rug will normally be dry in an hour and then you can run over it again in the same way.
Make sure the back of the rug is dry
Once you are done cleaning you need to ensure that the whole rug is completely dry BEFORE laying it back on the floor.
A common mistake is to let the rug dry on the floor in the position that it normally lies in the room but when you clean it the back of the rug will get wet as well.
If you don’t thoroughly dry the back of the rug as well as the front this can lead to mould and mildew forming which is not going to look very good and will start to smell.
We mentioned at the beginning to choose a nice day so when you are done cleaning put the rug outside for as long as possible and let it thoroughly dry on both the front and back before putting it back in place.
Here is a short video showing how a very professional rug cleaner goes about cleaning an oriental rug.
They have equipment that costs thousands of pounds and a warehouse environment for cleaning that can’t be replicated in most homes.
If you have an exquisite rug that cost you thousands then you may want to go down that road but for most people the instructions in this guide will achieve 95% of what they can at a fraction of the cost.