Oriental rugs have a well–earned reputation for being extremely durable and can be expected to provide years of service. However, they are not indestructible and should be well–cared–for, like all prized possessions. Once you become the proud owner of an Oriental rug, it is important that you know about the characteristics and care of your rug. Proper care and maintenance will greatly enhance both the beauty and the life of the rug. The construction of your rug, the fibers with which it has been made and the environment in which it is placed will all play in to the rug’s longevity. In addition to normal wear and tear, central heating, air conditioning and a number of household chemicals and inhabitants can have a damaging effect on the construction of your rug. Do not place the rug in damp areas as dampness may cause deterioration of your rug and never place the rug near any heat or fire ignition sources.

Correct Underlayment

It is extremely important, no matter how smooth your floor may appear to be, to always place a suitable padding between the floor and your rug. Ideally, a pad should:

  • Keep the rug from slipping
  • Absorb the pounding that all rugs receive underfoot
  • Allow for air circulation, which will prolong the life of your rug
  • Be cut one inch smaller in length and width than the rug itself

There are a number of underlays on the market today. The two most widely used are those made from porous sponge rubber and those made from a combination of fibers with a self–adhering coating that looks like a compressed sheet of cotton. The rubber underlay is used on hard surfaces like hardwood, tile, stone or concrete. The self–adhering underlay is mostly used when placing an Oriental rug on wall–to&ndwall carpeting.

Feizy Rugs® does not recommend placing rugs on wall–to–wall carpeting, as rugs of all construction have a tendency to float or crawl, stretch and wrinkle in these situations, especially when heavy furniture is being placed on them. If you do wish to place a rug on top of wall–to–wall carpeting, it is best to lay it on carpeting that has a short pile. The low–pile commercial broadloom carpeting that banks and department stores use is ideal.

Note of caution: Do not use sheets of plain foam rubber on a polished floor. They tend to collect moisture that will cause stickiness. The dampness will also cause deterioration of your rug.

Cleaning Your Rug

Like everything else, rugs get dirty, and since self–cleaning itself can involve wear–and–tear, cleaning should be undertaken carefully. Sweeping your rug with a broom or carpet sweeper on a weekly basis is highly recommended and is the least damaging way to routinely clean your rug. Depending on the size, beating your rug "the old-fashioned way" is also an excellent cleaning method that causes little wear to your rug. Vacuuming your rug once every other week is a fast and efficient way to remove the grit that might cut into rug fibers. For routine cleaning, you should be sure to use a machine that works only on suction and does not use a beater bar. When vacuuming, it is advisable to do so with the nap. Vacuuming against the nap can press dirt back into the rug’s pile. Vacuuming a shag rug with a long pile is never recommended.

Once a year, you can clean your rug with a vacuum that has beater bars. First, vacuum the back of the rug. The beating effect should cause any trapped grit to fall out of the pile. Then, turn the rug over and vacuum lightly across the face. Make sure that the beater bar is in a high enough position so it is not slowing the vacuum’s motor excessively when pushing it over the rug’s pile. Vacuums with extremely violent beater bars should be avoided because they may damage the rug’s foundation. In all events, care should be taken never to vacuum the fringe of a rug, especially with hand knotted pieces. In hand knotted rugs, the fringes are truly pieces of the rug’s foundation. If damaged, the entire rug may be at risk of unraveling. It is also essential to replace worn rug pads as necessary. Your annual beater bar vacuuming is a good time to check the state of your rug pad. In order to ensure that your rug wears evenly, you may also want to rotate it 180° at this time as well.

If the rug was clean when you bought it and is not in an unusually high–traffic area, you should only have to cope with major cleaning once every three to five years. Only a qualified and reputable cleaning company with good references and insurance should undertake the cleaning of an Oriental rug, as techniques are different from those used to clean wall–to–wall carpeting. Professional rug cleaning involves huge machines that feed the carpet over giant rollers and wash the rug with high–pressure jets of water tinctured with a gentle detergent. The rug is then rinsed and wrung between huge cylinders and hung on a bar located in a chamber with circulating hot air for drying. While this process is perfectly fine for newer rugs in sound structural shape, older rugs should be hand washed horizontally with utmost care. Feizy® always recommends professional cleaning services as the safest and surest way to protect the life of your rug, regardless of rug construction and fiber content.

Accidents always happen, whether someone spills a plate of spaghetti or a glass of red wine or coffee. Always have a bottle of plain soda water available. The bubbles in soda water dilute and lift the stain and work well on most stains if applied immediately. Lightly dampen a white cloth with soda water and gently massage the stained area from the outer edges in, rubbing in a circular motion. Make sure that your cleaning cloth is only lightly dampened. Excessive moisture can damage your rug. Stains that have been allowed to dry can often be much more difficult to deal with, however dried mud and blood can often be simply brushed away. For rugs laid atop carpeting, do not conduct any cleaning and/or maintenance prior to removing the rug from the carpet and do not return the rug until completely dry, as applying moisture to the rug while still on the wall–to–wall carpet could cause the colors in both the rug and carpeting to react to each other.
Uric acid is acid in urine that bleaches colors and destroys wool and other fibers. When your pet or baby has an accident, wash the stain three or more times with plain soda water as directed above, blotting the stained area with a white towel each time. Then, apply a cleaning solution made from baby shampoo (or any shampoo that doesn’t contain bleach) and white vinegar at a ratio of one teaspoon of vinegar per pint of shampoo. Test the rug first in a small area to ensure color–fastness. Rinse well with clean water, brushing the pile with a medium brush and air–drying thoroughly with cool air. For large areas needing cleaning, professional services are recommended.

Hand Knotted Rugs

Generally speaking, hand knotted rugs are the most durable rugs with regard to construction. It is important to realize that within the hand knotted construction, qualities can range from very high to very low, not only in knot count, but also when describing the wool or other materials used in the weaving of the rug. Depending on the overall quality of the rug and the care you give it, these pieces can last for generations. Make sure you never vacuum the fringes of a hand knotted rug. Hand knotted rugs can be stored either rolled or folded, depending on the knot density. For higher knot count rugs, rolling is preferable to prevent breakage of the foundation. Should the fringe of your hand knotted rug become damaged, it is best to seek help from a reputable rug repair workshop.

Hand Tufted Rugs

While hand made in quality, these rugs are not knotted by hand and are made with the assistance of a tufting gun. Hand tufted rugs are often less expensive than hand knotted pieces and can often be more fashion–oriented. Because these rugs take less time to produce, hand tufted pieces can follow the latest fads and color trends. Whereas a hand knotted rug might take months or years to produce, hand tufted rugs usually take only a matter of days or weeks. As with hand knotted rugs, there are a wide range of qualities offered within the tufted category. These are mainly differentiated by pile fiber types and qualities and the density of the tufts.

Because the rug is tufted, there are no knots to anchor the yarns of the pile in place, thus a canvas backing glued to the back of the rug with latex keeps them secured. Over time, the rug’s backing may become stiff, the latex may deteriorate into a non–toxic white powder or it may begin to emit a smell similar to burnt rubber. This is a characteristic of the latex and is not considered to be a defect. Please be aware that any type of spill or accident that exposes your tufted rug to moisture may accelerate this process, especially if care is not taken to clean and dry the rug immediately. Many people do not find the repair of a hand tufted rug to be cost effective due to the fact that they are relatively inexpensive when compared to hand knotted rugs. Repairs to hand tufted rugs are possible, but should be undertaken only by reputable rug repair specialists.
When storing a hand tufted rug, it is important that it never be folded, but rather rolled in a tight cylinder shape to prevent the foundation from breaking or the backing from wrinkling. Never place heavy objects on top of a rolled rug, as it will create creases in the rug and can even break the backing. Should the fringe of a hand tufted rug become detached, it can often be simply sewn back on to the rug.

Power Loomed Rugs

Power loomed rugs, alternately known as machine made rugs, are woven on machines often controlled by computers. There are varying qualities of power loomed rugs. Density, fiber content and number of colors used are all considered in determining the rug’s quality. Because power loomed rugs can be produced in a matter of minutes, these pieces are often much more fashion–oriented toward the trends of the day. The investment of resources and time in the creation of a power loomed rug is generally much less than in that of a hand knotted or even a hand tufted rug, and the cost is a reflection of that.

One drawback to power loomed rugs is that once they get damaged, there is very little that can be done to repair them, and it is usually not cost–effective to do so. Some power loomed rugs have fringes and others do not. Those that have fringes are fringes that have been sewn on, and care should be taken to avoid vacuuming them as they can easily come apart from the rug. Should this occur, they can be sewn back on, provided no damage has been done to the rug’s foundation. Additionally, it should be noted that the serging at the edges of a power loomed rug can unravel when cleaned or vacuumed incorrectly (see "Cleaning Your Rug").

It is preferable that Power loomed rugs are stored rolled rather than folded, as the rug’s foundation could be adversely affected by folding, and creases may appear if the rug is folded. Just as with a tufted rug, you should not place objects on top of a rolled power loomed rug as creasing is likely to occur.

Characteristics of All Rugs

Your rug may exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:

Shedding: It is characteristic for all synthetic and wool pile rugs to lose short fibers. This "shedding" process is often created when the pile is cut to required height during production and fibers fall onto the surface as "fluff." Shedding is not considered a defect. The amount of shedding will vary based on material type and quality, pile height, age of the rug and knot density.

Sprouting: Certain types of yarns used in the making of rugs are "over-twisted" in order to give the rug the desired texture, and often a yarn tuft will rise above the surface (commonly called "sprouting"). Sprouting is one of the easiest issues to remedy by merely cutting the sprout (the yarn sticking up above the surface) with a pair of scissors so that it is flush with the rug’s surface. DO NOT PULL THE SPROUT AS IT CAN CAUSE ADDITIONAL DAMAGE TO THE RUG. Also, be aware that high heels can cause sprouting as well, even in flat–weave rugs.

Curling: The term "curling" can be used to describe a couple of situations with respect to your rug. Rugs are often shipped rolled tightly into a cylindrical shape. Sometimes, when the rugs are initially unpacked, the edges will curl under, refusing to lay flat. The rug’s foundation or backing must be given time to relax after being unpacked. Often times, reverse rolling the rug will speed the relaxing process. Curling can also be a sign in hand knotted rugs of a very finely and tightly woven piece. Often times, sewing strips of leather along the edges in cases such as these will prevent curling. This should be undertaken only by a professional rug repair workshop.

The term "curling" is also used to describe the stretching/wrinkling that occurs when a rug is placed on top of wall–to–wall carpet, often times with heavy furniture placed on the rug’s surface. Again, this is not a defect of the rug, although in such cases the rug will never lay flat again. It is simply due to the fact that the rug’s foundation has been stretched.

Other Maintenance Facts

Insect Damage: Rugs should be checked periodically for evidence of insect infestation, which can be brought into your house by pets, flowers or food. Your rug’s worst enemy is the moth. While adult moths will not eat wool, their larvae feed on it in dark, quiet, warm places, such as areas hidden under furniture. Therefore, regular cleaning is necessary to avoid moth infestation. Moving your rug into the hot sun for a few hours every now and then is a good precaution. Moths are most active during the summer months, so exercise special care during this time. While there are anti–moth sprays on the market, you must be sure that they will not harm your rug’s fibers or colors before applying them.

Camphor powder has been used for many years to deter moths. Dusting the back of your rug with camphor powder and lightly shaking it can be an effective preventative measure.

Crushing: Heavy furniture may damage your rug. If the feet of your furniture are sharp or are made of metal, you must use some sort of protector prior to setting such furniture on top of your rug. There are many types of protectors available. Furniture floaters, which have a smooth surface and adhere directly to the legs of your furniture, leave minimal indentations on the surface of your rug. If the pile of your rug has become crushed and you wish to attempt to restore it to its normal height, try brushing the affected area gently with a soft brush.

Fading: Excessive fading can occur if a rug is exposed to long periods of strong sunlight and is best avoided by either repositioning the rug or drawing blinds or draperies. Any light over the years, however, will gradually mellow the colors and sometimes this subdued coloration can be an advantage. Faded, mellow colors are often very appealing to many rug connoisseurs.

Cleaning Products: While you will certainly want to ensure that all cleaning products you may choose to apply directly to your rug are safe and will not cause damage to your rug, you should also be aware that some cleaning agents used in close proximity to your rug can have harmful effects, although they might not be applied directly to the rug itself. Perform a thorough check of all cleaning agents to be used on underlying surfaces and in surrounding areas, such as baseboards, windows, etc., to ensure that they are safe to be used around your rug.

Plant Lovers, Beware: Continuous dampness resulting from over–watering and spilling of flower pots and planters placed directly on a rug can lead to mildew rot, which is an irreparable type of damage, and color transfer, if the rug is placed atop wall–to–wall carpeting.

Rug Storage: If you need to store your rug for any lengthy amount of time, first make sure that it is clean and dry. It is advisable to treat it with a moth repellent (see "Insect Damage"), then roll the rug into a tight cylinder against the nap and wrap in a breathable fabric, such as a sheet. Plastic wrapping will prevent the rug from breathing. The rug should be stored in a cool, dry, well–ventilated area. Some larger hand knotted rugs can be stored folded if not too tightly woven, however these too should be treated for moths and stored in breathable fabric. Never store heavy objects on your rolled or folded rugs, as this could cause permanent damage by creasing the rug and, in some cases, breaking the foundation or backing of a tufted rug.