How To Take Care of Your Oriental Rug Spills and Stains.

Care Of Your Oriental Rug - Dirt Pile From Oriental Rug Beating

Pile Of Dirt Removed From One Rug!

Here are some excellent tips to help you decide on the best care of your Oriental rug. Do you find the best business to wash your wool rugs, or will you be able to do it yourself?

To decide, you must understand and be able answer these questions:

1. How do I clean up spills and stains?

2. What are the best methods of repair?

3. What are the correct storage techniques?

4. What is safe treatment and prevention of moth and bug infestations?

5. Other questions that my posts address, that articles written by others may have missed.

Some examples of what you need to know:

  • Handmade and machine made orientals are not broadloom or wall to wall carpeting.
  • Shampooing, steam cleaning, and dry cleaning may be adequate for these other types of rugs, but not for wool and silk orientals, or machine-woven wool carpets.
  • To preserve them, orientals need to be washed, and washed as often as their location and use demands.
  • Only thorough beating can remove the embedded dirt that wears out a rug.
  • Only thorough washing can remove pet problems – urine and feces.
  • Insect problems can be treated better and more safely by washing than insecticides.

Pet Urine and Feces On My Oriental Rug

What do I do if my pet has an accident on our Oriental or wool carpet?

Care Of Your Oriental Rug - Washing An Oriental Rug Properly

Hand Washing An Antique Oriental Rug

If you can’t get it to someone who WASHES rugs (see my article on Rug Washing ) right away, then for:

A. Urine: Using a white towel or uncolored paper towels, blot (don’t scrub) out as much urine as you can. Check to see if the dyes are fast (most good orientals have stable dyes). If there was no color transfer to the towel, that is good but still see “testing dyes” below.

If it passes the dye test, saturate the area with luke warm water (add about a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water), or a quart bottle of soda water. Be sure that there is some plastic between the carpet and the underlying floor.

Blot out the water with a colorless towel or paper towels. Don’t rub. Do this at least a couple of times. To avoid future odor and dye change, you need to get the urine out of the carpet.

  • Quick fix, off-the-shelf products might mask the smell for a while, but damage will result in the long term. Air dry (an electric fan will help). The rug will wick dry. It is still best to get the carpet washed, not shampooed. Make sure they guarantee to get the urine out. Our company can do that for you.  Always feel free to call us with questions at 207-846-9000.
  • Testing Dyes: Apply some luke warm water to an area the size of a silver dollar on each color (especially the red), and blot it with a clean white cloth. Any color transfer? If there is, it is best to find a professional, because you can expect the dye to possibly bleed if you do the suggested process. Dye bleed may be necessary to avoid odor – “Pink or Stink!”

B. Vomit and feces. Scrape off the majority of the substance and follow the above procedure for removing urine. Shampooing will not solve either problem. Off-the-shelf chemicals will not take care of the problem. Urine or feces left in a rug will often and rreversibly change affected colors in that carpet, and in humid weather, smell.

I spilled something on my Rug! What do I do now?

  • Your Rug First-Aid Kit: Club soda, corn starch, and white cotton towels – Blot, Rinse, Blot
  • The time will eventually come when something is spilled on your rug – coffee, soda, wine, or juice. There is a tendency to grab a cleanser and scrub the area, and this inevitably causes more permanent harm than good.
  • A good emergency system is a very simple one, and all you need is club soda (or soda water) and cotton towels.

Essential technique for care of your Oriental Rug:  BLOT – RINSE  – BLOT  Technique 

1. Immediately blot the wet area with a white cotton towel. Do not scrub the affected area, as this untwists and breaks the wool, silk, or cotton face fibers. (If the spill is an oil or dense substance, use a spoon or other curved tool to scoop up as much as you can before you begin the blotting process).

2. Look at the wet towel for two things: is the liquid spill absorbing into the towel? And, are any of the rug’s dyes absorbing into the towel?

3. If the rug’s dyes are absorbing into the towel, blot a bit more and then STOP! No more work can be done to this area without causing the area’s dyes to bleed together. This type of damage can devalue your rug, so you want to stop before you make it worse. At this point you can pack the area with corn starch (or salt) and this will absorb the moisture and the spill into the powder.

4. If the rug’s dyes are NOT absorbing into the towel (you only see the spill absorbing into it), then place a folded towel underneath the affected area and using a sponge dampen the affected area with club soda. This will help you continue to remove the spill substance into the towel.

5. Once you believe you have removed as much as you can through blotting, if you are still worried about anything foreign being in the fibers, or possible damage occurring to the dyes (if it is a pet stain or other damaging acid stain), then you can pack the area with corn starch.

6. When you believe the absorption to be complete, elevate the treated area so that airflow can reach the back of the rug (prop it up) and dry the foundation thoroughly. Do this for at least one day to ensure complete drying. The rug will feel dry to the touch, however, the cotton foundation will still have moisture within it, and without air drying it will eventually lead to mildew and dry rot. Use a warm hair dryer to assist if needed.

7. If you have used corn starch it becomes hard to the touch when dry, and this can be broken apart with a spoon and scooped up and vacuumed away. However, you want to make sure the inner most cotton fibers are 100% dry, so still elevate the rug to dry for at least a day.

About the Author

Tad Runge has been buying, selling, washing and repairing vintage oriental rugs in Maine since the 1970s.  He is the latest generation of Runges to buy and sell old oriental rugs a tradition started in the 1880s in New York by his Great Grandfather Edward Runge.
His shop A.E. Runge Oriental Rugs is in Yarmouth, Maine 207-846-9000

Filed under: Oriental Rug Care

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