Taking care of your beautiful rugs
Handmade rugs specially woolen and silk rugs are beautiful, yet costly, addition to any home. Because of the nature of their natural fibers, cleaning wool or silk rugs takes a special technique and extra care. Using the correct products will ensure that your wool rug is not damaged during cleaning.
One way to help keep a wool area rug from getting too dirty in the first place is to ask family members to take their shoes off in the home’s entryway. Shoes worn outdoors carry an amazing amount of dirt, and keeping this dirt off of your valuable rugs will go a long way toward keeping them clean. Even so, wool rugs should be vacuumed frequently and thoroughly cleaned about every 12 to 18 months.
Vacuuming Wool Rugs
Dirt, dust, and other debris rubs against the fibers of a wool rug and can actually damage them. It’s very important to use a quality vacuum to remove this debris on a regular basis, and wool area rugs should be vacuumed at least as often as regular carpeting. It is recommended that rug and should be vacuumed a few times each week.
The vacuum’s height should be set to “high” so that the rotating brush does not create excessive agitation on the rug. Too much agitation will damage the wool fibers, lead to pilling, and may even cause shrinkage.
The brushes on the beater bar should lightly touch the rug during vacuuming. The brushing will help remove deep down dirt without agitating the fibers too much.
For the greatest suction, the vacuum bag or canister should be kept less than half full.
The vacuum should be moved in a ‘V’ path instead of back and forth in straight lines. Alternating the direction of the vacuum’s path prevents the fibers from being crushed.
Wool rugs can be turned upside down and the backside can be vacuumed as well.
About once a year, wool rugs should receive an overall cleaning to remove general grime that a vacuum can’t touch. This will brighten the rug, giving it an almost new appearance, and will extend its life. It is recommended to have a professional rug cleaner do the overall cleaning for you at a nominal cost.
Professional Wool Rug Cleaning
Professionals are available to wash wool rugs for anyone who prefers not to take care of it at home. Some professionals offer steam cleaning, while others caution that steam cleaning can actually be harmful for wool rugs. Heat and friction can cause wool to shrink, and steam cleaning involves both. Discuss this option and its risks with a professional if interested.
Stains should be cleaned up immediately to prevent setting in permanently. A clean white towel should be used to absorb as much of the spill as possible. (Colored towels can transfer their dyes to the wool rug and should never be used.) Because of potential damage or shrinkage of fibers, stains should not be scrubbed but should only be blotted and pressed. If a large amount of a more solid matter has been dropped onto the rug, a spoon can be used to gently scoop the matter up.
Cleaners to Avoid
Some cleaners can severely damage a wool rug and should be avoided.
- Oxygen-based “Oxy” cleaners or hydrogen peroxide
- Alkaline cleaners including soda ash
- Dry Powder cleaners – These can leave a residue that is virtually impossible to remove.
Cleaning wool rugs can be accomplished with a little time and effort and the right cleaning products. By cleaning spills right away and giving wool rugs a thoroughly yearly cleaning, your wool area rugs can be kept looking their best and brightest for many years.