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

Filed under: Oriental Rug Care

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