Oriental Rug Care Archives

Repairing an Oriental Rug

Wear and Holes

How can you best go about repairing an Oriental Rug? First, learn what causes the rug to age.

  • Oriental rugs on the floor + sneakers and shoes + dirt = wear.
  • Use + regular beating and washing = reduced wear.
  • Add to this an oriental rug with good wool density and better quality wool (many new rugs are made with soft Merino wool) and it means wear is slowed down. However, rugs will wear.
Wear To The Edge / Selvage Of An Oriental Rug

Wear To The Edge / Selvage Of An Oriental Rug

A Few Tips for Reducing Wear

  1. Over the years heavy usage will cause the pile (wool, cotton, and silk – in descending order of durability) to wear, eventually to the hand tied knot heads.
  2. Next in the wear cycle you will start seeing the usually light colored foundation threads (warp and weft).  If you wish to reverse this process now is the time to check with an oriental rug professional on one,  is the rug worth restoring, and two, what would it cost to repile the worn area.
  3. Two options exist –
    1. The first option  is to re knot the rug, thus putting pile back into the rug.
    2. A second less expensive option is to “Kashmir” the worn area.  This is an embroidery type of stitch which, while putting wool back into the rug, does not create new pile. Do this before the wear becomes a hole. Re-piling or embroidering an oriental rug, while expensive, is much less expensive than restoring a hole.


Oriental Rug Fringe Repair

Worn Rug Fringe Being Repaired

Rotate your rugs at least once a year to shift wear patterns and more evenly distribute the fading effects of any sun on the carpet.  While some colors fade faster than others (ie natural green and yellow) no color is immune to fading.

Just like in any other trade, there are good and poor repair and restoration services.  Be careful who you pick.  Check previous work and references.


A common and inexpensive method to mask the worn areas of an oriental rug is using art pens, to color over the light colored foundation with a color that matches the original pile color, something you can do yourself.

      • This may make the rug look better, but will not slow down the wear process.
      • Why not move that worn beauty somewhere there is less traffic?

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

Care Of Your Oriental Rug

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

Washing An Oriental Rug

Washing an Oriental Rug requires a decision:

Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional?

Washing An Oriental Rug - Professional Sweeping Of An Oriental Rug

Professional Sweeping Of An Oriental Rug

What is good regular maintenance for my oriental rug?

  • Vacuuming with a non-power nozzle vacuum wand is most important. How often?  How much use does the rugs get?  How dirty does that use make the rug?
  • Weekly vacuuming in high use areas like entrance halls and the kitchen and monthly vacuuming in low use areas – bedrooms and formal areas.
  • Power nozzle and/or power brush wands were designed for wall to wall.  They wear out orientals (many manufacturers recommend not using them on oriental rugs) when used on the pile side  (the face) of an oriental, or machine-made (Belgium, Karastan, etc.) wool carpets.
  • Beating your carpet is equally as important as vacuuming.  Dirt gets trapped in the pile and knots of your carpet. Vacuums (including power nozzle vacuums) do not get all of this deep dirt.
  • Remember the old rug beaters grandma used?  There is an easier way that uses that power nozzle that shouldn’t be used on the pile side of the rug.

How to properly beat a rug:

Determine first if your rug needs to be beaten. At least once a year, take hold of a corner, or other dirty looking part of your rug, and fold it over a piece of newspaper. Tap it vigorously from the back.  Do this in various parts of the rug. Any grit on the paper? If so it needs a beating.

Take your carpet outside  and lay it on a clean, dry surface (a deck, drive way, garage floor), and flip in over so that the back of the rug is up.  Take that power nozzle vacuum and vacuum the back. If you hold it at just the correct angle you will feel a vibration.  You are beating the carpet.  You may be amazed at the amount of dirt you see under the carpet. Remove the dirt, vacuum the face of the rug, and repeat this process until there is no more dirt.  This is the  best thing you can do for your rug.

How often should I Wash my Oriental Carpet?

Washing an Oriental Rug With A Thorough Professional Shampoo

Professional Washing With A Gentle Detergent


To preserve your rug it needs to be properly beaten and washed on a regular basis.  It is dirt trapped in the pile of your oriental that wears it out. Washing an oriental rug preserves its life.

Rugs in high traffic areas need to be beaten and washed almost every year. If it is in a bedroom or an infrequently used parlor, then perhaps every 15 years.

One advantage of light colored carpets is they tell you when. Darker colored rugs subtly get dirty and you don’t notice it as much. Don’t put off getting either cleaned, if you want them to last.



How Should My Carpet Be Washed?

  • There is a big difference in the various cleaning processes.  Most rug cleaning establishments clean all kinds of rugs. They offer just  “cleaning,” or shampooing, to be more exact.  This is fine for wall to wall and machine made rugs, but not for orientals. Never dry clean an oriental rug.
  • Beating, washing, and rinsing. WASHING  is by far the best process for oriental rugs.
  • Try finding someone who still washes rugs. Look for an establishment which specializes and has years of experience in hand washing oriental rugs.  We (Runge -Riteway) are the last one we know of in Maine, NH, & VT who offers this service. We buy and sell vintage oriental rugs and most rugs that we buy are dirty.  No one in Maine or NH  washed rugs, so we established our own. We offer that service to everyone for twenty five years.
  • Ask anyone who claims they wash rugs to explain their process.  It should use a lot of water.
  • You want your carpet thoroughly “dusted,” washed using water (if the dyes are fast), with lots of water and gentle detergents, pet and other accidents  dealt with if necessary, then rinsed and air dried.
  • Shampooing does not rinse the rug.  It leaves a soap residue that dulls the rug and attracts dirt.
  • Washing is a more labor intensive and thus a more expensive process.  Washing and shampooing are totally different processes with very different results.

Washing an Oriental Rug - Squeeging An Oriental Rug

Removing most of the soap

Washing an Oriental Rug - Rinsing To Remove All Soap

Rinsing To Remove All of the Soap

Washing an Oriental Rug - Rinse And Drip Dry

Final rinse and drip dry

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