How Do I Safely Clean My Oriental Rug?

Oriental rugs are sought after by collectors because they first appeared about 2,500 years ago and represent a specific type of rug-making that originated in Pakistan, Turkey, India, Iran and Afghanistan, among other countries. Oriental rugs are all hand-woven and use natural dyes from plant materials to create the distinctive images that vary from country to country. An Oriental rug will increase in value if properly maintained, according to experts. Here are some general cleaning guidelines for Oriental rugs.

Vacuum both sides.

There’s an easy way to check to see how much dirt and dust is in your Oriental rug. Pick up one corner of the carpet and knock it with your fist or give it a kick. If you see a cloud of dust and dirt rise from the carpet, it’s definitely time to vacuum. The key with an Oriental rug is to slowly and carefully vacuum one side before flipping the rug over and doing the same to the other side.  Depending on how much use the rug gets, clean at least once every four weeks, and sooner if there is plenty of traffic, along with kids and pets. You can also put the rug over a railing and beat both sides to release the dirt and grime into the air. This will not harm your Oriental rug but will be effective in releasing the dirt that is trapped deeply in the pile of your carpet.

Act quickly on stains.

Even more so than built-in carpeting, it’s crucial to remove a stain as soon as possible with an Oriental rug. A stain that sets in to your Oriental rug can be extremely stubborn and the natural dyes are easily affected by different stains. All Oriental rugs contain lanolins, or natural oils, that act as nature’s protectant and provide a natural barrier to stains. Use a mixture of three parts of water and one part white vinegar. The vinegar will act both as a cleaner and as a de-odorizer. Be careful not to use too much vinegar or you’ll simply replace the odor from the stain with the strong smell of vinegar. Remember that your rug is decorated with natural vegetable dyes that can easily discolor with harsh cleaning chemicals.

Treat your rug with care.

Unlike installed carpeting in your home, you should never use steam machines or professional equipment to clean your Oriental rug. The natural dyes and delicate handwork will be affected by the heat and the harshness of these machines, as well as the hand-made knots. Also, be careful when you wash out stains in your carpet. Limit the amount of time the carpet is wet by using a floor fan and mildew will not be a serious issue.