Care and Maintenance
Lifestyles and the environment pose unique problems for all types of floor covering. Look around you. The culprits are easy to identify: the sun streaming through the window, the glass of red wine in your dinner guest’s hand, the kids’ gritty sneakers, your prized Persian cat. Regular routines will help you maintain your rug’s physical fitness.
Here are some common care and maintenance questions (click for the answers)
My rug is dirty…should I call the steam cleaning guy?
A resounding NO. Steam cleaning a wool rug is somewhat akin to boiling a fine cashmere sweater. High temperatures melt lanolin, wool’s built-in protection against soiling, staining and dirt. In dyed wool, steam and hot water may cause colors to run. However, steam cleaning is an effective and recommended method for cleaning nylon and other synthetic fibers.
Does my oriental rug need to be professionally cleaned? How often?
Yes. It’s best for a handmade rug to be washed in a cleaning facility by a professional. Oriental rug cleaners have specially designed equipment that removes dust, flushes cool soapy water through the rug’s pile and foundation and then saturates the rug with clean rinse water. Finally, the machine extracts excess moisture from the carpet which is then hung to dry. Professional cleaning takes about two weeks.
A rug in the front foyer or the kitchen, subject to gritty dirt or ambient cooking oils, should be cleaned at least once a year. The rug in the little used second floor guest bedroom requires much less frequent professional attentions.
What should I do if something spills on my rug?
It depends on what has spilled. The first line of defense against a spill is to keep a small cleaning kit handy. The kit should contain dishwashing liquid or low sudsing hair shampoo, ammonia, a commercial dry-cleaning agent, white vinegar and plenty of clean white rags. DO NOT USE WOOLITE or other high-sudsing soaps that are too hard to rinse out. Residual soap attracts dirt…..quickly.
Treat all spills promptly. For most common everyday spills, such as black coffee, wine, mid and milk, start by blotting up excess moisture until the area feels almost dry.00 Mix one capful of shampoo or dishwashing liquid with 12 ounces of cool to lukewarm tap water. There is no need to use club soda.) Apply to the stain. Gently lather and blot again. Rinse until the suds are gone and blot again. Prop up the damp area so air reaches both sides for quick drying. Before cleaning up mud, allow it to dry and then vacuum.
Use ammonia instead of shampoo for cleaning fresh urine stains. For urine stains more than 2-3 days old, do not use ammonia as the cleaning agent. Use shampoo as above and DO USE a dilute solution of one part white vinegar to six parts water for the final rinse. We are simply applying the chemistry of PH values to this exercise….and since urine ultimately converts to ammonia on its own…it stands to reason that adding more ammonia to an old stain is counterproductive.
Most food and animal stains can be cleaned with a simple soap and water mixture. Use lukewarm water on sugar based stains (ice cream, cough syrup, coffee with sugar). Use solvents, not soap on oil based stains, such as shoe polish and WD40. Cover wax spills with brown paper and apply a hot iron. The wax will transfer from the rug onto the paper.
Is there anything I can do to make my rugs wear well and look good for a long time.
Yes! First, vacuum rugs regularly to remove gritty dirt which, left unchecked, will wear down and damage the pile. Keep beater bars away from fringe. For best results vacuum from side to side parallel to the fringe end. Take particular care to inspect and thoroughly vacuum all darkened areas under upholstered or skirted furniture to clean out the cozy corners where moths may nest. Once a year, turn the rug over and vacuum its “ back side” The vibration of the vacuum cleaner will knock out deep seated dirt.
Reposition area rugs situated in high foot traffic areas. They can be shifted slightly, turned 180 degrees or even moved from one room to another to prevent concentrated use and wear patterns.
Use the proper pad.
How do I prevent moths from damaging my wool carpet?
Periodically inspect the front and undersides of wool carpets; then diligently vacuum darkened areas and apply mothproofing solutions if necessary. Keep rugs clean with regular professional care and vacuuming.
Before you store a rug, have it professionally cleaning, mothproofed and wrapped in paper not plastic. May rug dealers provide secure storage services, including routine reapplication of moth repellant chemicals and rewrapping.
If I find moths, what do I do?
Purchase a liquid, moth specific insecticide that kills larvae. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions, which usually involve spraying, air drying and vacuuming the front and back of the rug,
To complete the job, turn the vacuum power on, spray the inside of the nozzle or the base so the insecticide disperses throughout the inside of the equipment. Immediately remove and dispose of the vacuum bag OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.
Do rugs fade? What do I have to do to protect my rugs from fading?
Everything fades. The most effective way to prevent damage from the sun is to install an awning or apply a UVC screen product (like 3M Scotchtint) to windows, glass doors and skylights. These steps will block or filter the suns rays and reduce the UV impact on rug, fabrics, furniture wallpaper and wood floors. UV window protection is used routinely by historical societies which are particularly diligent in their efforts to preserve valuable antiques and items of historic merit.
Do I need to put a pad under my rug? Are there different kinds of pads for different uses?
Yes on both counts. Consumers have been lead to believe that sinking into a carpet with every footstep is luxurious, indeed, “good”. In actuality, the best pad under any carpet is a firm pad. A “soft” pad can be particularly hard on a rug, contributing to permanent marks from furniture and premature wear to the pile.
Conversely, a dense pad will firmly support a rug’s foundation. With dense padding underfoot, furniture marks can usually be reversed with a light ironing with water and white cloths. Further, a firm, dense pad can protect a rug from reflecting irregularities in the floor it covers.
High quality rubber or synthetic non skid pads also fulfill a safely function that soft foam pads cannot. They keep rugs from slipping and people from skidding.
In addition to dense synthetics and non-skid pads, there are ever improving padding options for area rugs placed on top of wall to wall carpeting. These self-adhesive pads minimize the “traveling” and buckling familiar to those whose décor features rug on top of rug.