Fine rugs are an investment and when properly cared for, you can get decades of enjoyment from your hand made works of art. There are two general concerns that lead to damage and shorten the life of every rug. The information in this article will teach you the common mistakes that rug owners make that cause rugs to wear out prematurely and loose their beauty and value. Below, you will learn to avoid the common mistakes that most rug owners make and be more educated than many carpet cleaners.
Vacuum your rugs frequently to remove soil from your rug before it gets into the foundation where it cuts the fibers like a knife. Vacuum your rug across the width with the brush bar turned off to avoid catching the fringe or distorting the fibers. The use of upholstery attachments are necessary for thinner and more delicate rugs. If your rug has a pile, pull the attachment in the same direction as the pile. The pile direction can easily be determined by “petting” the rug and finding the smooth direction that causes the pile to lay down. This is similar to petting a cat or dog in the direction of their fur.
In addition to vacuuming the front, the back of the rug should also be vacuumed periodically. If you have a thick sturdy rug, it can be vacuumed with the beater bar on. Remember to go across the width and stay clear of the fringe.
Use a quality rug underlay pad to give your rug dimensional stability and provide cushioning against foot traffic. A good pad should sufficiently grip the floor and the rug to reduce creeping and slipping. The quality and price of pads can vary. Generally, the performance of the pad increases with the price. Non-slip waffle pattern pads are inexpensive, but often fail to keep the rug from wrinkling and creeping. When placing a rug over carpet, you want a pad that is somewhat rigid. Many retailers simply suggest flipping over a pad designed for hard wood. While these pads will help to grip the rug, they do not provide the dimensional stability that is needed over a soft surface.
Rotate your rugs every 6 months. Rotating you rug will ensure more even wear on the rug. It also gives you a chance to thoroughly vacuum the entire rug, even under furniture. Furthermore, rotating your rugs give you a chance to inspect areas under furniture for insect damage. You may want to consider rotating your rug in the springtime when insects are more likely to lay their eggs. Vacuuming and moving the rug are good ways do disturb insect and help prevent damage.
Avoid placing potted plants on your rug as this often causes dry rot and may lead to a hole in your rug. It is inevitable, if you have a potted plant on your rug, at some point it will be over watered. So if possible, move the plant off the rug entirely. Dry rot becomes a problem, because the foundation of most rugs are cotton, which is more absorbent than wool or silk. Spilled water quickly is absorbed into the cotton foundation and because it is wrapped tightly with wool or silk fibers and lays flat on the floor, the water evaporates very slowly. Elevating a plant off the rug will help to create more are flow, but is usually still not sufficient to prevent dry rot. If your rug does get wet, turn back the edge so that both the top and bottom of the rug have air flow. You may also want to consider having the rug professionally cleaned since the soil from the potted plant that gets into the foundation will expedite dry rot.
Properly store your rugs to avoid damage commonly caused by insects, pests, and moisture. It is recommended that rugs be thoroughly washed, moth-proofed, and wrapped in a breathable material if storing for more than a month. Kraft paper is acceptable to store your rugs for a short time period (less than a month) since it allows the wool to breathe. However, it only provides limited defense against insects and pests and very little protection from moisture. Plastic is also not recommended for long term storage, but is acceptable for short time periods such as delivery after cleaning. If a rug is placed in plastic, always perforate the plastic to allow the rug to breathe. For long term storage (more than a month) we recommend using a breathable material that is both water repellent and provide better protection form insects and pests. You also want to avoid storing your rug in attics, basements, garages and closets which are typically dark, moist, and have limited air flow (insects love these conditions).
Some rugs are very susceptible to sun fading. All textile can possibly fade with exposure to direct sunlight, but some rugs and specific colors will fade faster than others. If possible, avoid placing your rugs in direct sunlight. If you do, however, you can decrease fading with tinted windows, drawing the shades, or having a professional apply a UV protection to your rug. The red tones are usually the first colors to start fading. Some rugs are chemically washed after the weaving process to achieve a softer hand and more luxuries look to the wool. This process is often referred to as luster washing, antique washing, or strip washing. Many rugs are initially washed in this way, particularly, rugs from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. Cotton rugs are also very susceptible to fading, especially, artificial silk rugs (commonly refereed to as art silk). Art silk rugs are commonly made out of mercerized cotton, which is essentially a mild bleaching process to make the rug feel and appear as real silk. Any rug chemically washed will fade much faster and wear out much sooner than rugs that have not been treated in this manner. There are some ways to correct fading, including tip shearing and redyeing.
Never use household cleaning products on your rug. Some cleaners may cause risk of color loss, discoloration, permanent yellowing, fiber damage and dye bleeding. Most home owners have a small inventory of cleaning agents under the sink and choosing the wrong cleaner for your application could be disastrous. Even cleaners that are marketed as carpet cleaning agents could ruin your rug. Remember, roughly 99% of wall to wall carpet is synthetic (a form of plastic) and most rugs are made primarily out of natural fibers. If you are uncertain if a product will work on wool, silk, or cotton don’t take the risk. Some commonly use cleaners with potentially damaging results include Folex, Resolve, Oxyclean, Simple Green, Woolite, Salt, Ammonia, Baking Soda, and Bleach.
Hire a firm that has specialized training specific to natural fiber textiles and rugs. Carpet cleaners are trained in to clean wall to wall carpet which is almost always a synthetic fibers. Rugs, even less expensive ones, are commonly made of wool, cotton, and other natural fibers. Treating these natural fibers the same way as synthetics, which are essentially plastic, can cause texture change and texture distortion, discoloration, and bleeding.