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How are Persian rugs supposed to be cleaned?

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How are Persian rugs supposed to be cleaned?

Postby My4t2de on Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:27 pm

Here's what I've been told today;

"We'll just use our foam cleaner on them".

"Persian, is that a brand name"?

"Yeah, the guy uses a big ol' hot steamer"!

"What'd you call them again"?

"If you want you can use some Woolite rug foam stuff".

"I don't think you want us to do em'"!

The rugs are on their way now and I was hoping to have somewhere to take them to before opening.
What do I do now?

I'm in a city of remuddlers not restorers, ugh!
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Postby jeepnstein on Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:42 pm

You take them to the cleaners. Yeah, easier said than done I know. We have two that desperately need cleaned but I suspect it'll be a four-hour round trip drive to drop them off at the nearest place. Many rug sellers also offer this service or know someone who does. They can also replace the fringed binding on the edges since those are what seems to show the most wear.

In a pinch I have used a rug shampooer but wouldn't tell anyone else to try it. In a case where the rug would be ruined if you didn't take immediate action some times a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

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Postby lrkrgrrl on Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:56 pm

If it's really an older rug, chances are it's been steamed before, it's really not that big a deal. A quick blast of steam is better than a soaking, and steam has been used to clean, freshen, and de-wrinkle woolens and silks for a long time.

I personally don't ask how, I just drop them off at the carpet cleaners, pick it up $12.00 later. I've lived with a mix of old and new and wool and synthetic rugs, and never had a problem. The foams the pro's use are basically a dry-cleaning process.

Many dry-cleaners will do rugs, or have someone who does. Good luck!
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Postby ManteroConsulting on Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:36 pm

*Disclaimer: I have never used this method*

I've read in old farmers' journals about taking them out into the snow and rubbing snow into them, then brushing it back out, then hanging the rub and beating it, then leaving it hanging to dry (not on a sunny day or the rug could fade).

Note the disclaimer--though this method seems reasonably harmless to me...
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Postby S Melissa on Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:21 pm

Congratulations on your buys!! Sounds like you got good deals! I'd check the yellow pages for persian rug dealers (oriental) and give them a call. They will have a contact for rug cleaners. My rugs have been sent (they pick up and deliver!) to Hagopian's - where they have these huge cleaning rooms - they lay out the rugs on the floor - douse them with water and a cleaning mixture, scrub with brushes to get out the dirt and raise the nap, rinse and squeegee off the excess then hang them in a drying room to dry. Then roll them up and bring them back - not cheap - but they are pros!

Old Orientals remember have been toted around by the nomads - thrown on the sand, over the camels, and generally beaten to death - and they survive. Newer and machine made won't take that treatment but the true persian rugs are nearly indestructible - hence why they are soooo expensive!
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Postby Don M on Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:32 pm

We would never use a rug shampooer on our oriental carpets; they should be sent out to the oriental rug cleaners as mentoined above. Our rug guy Alababa says they should be cleaned once a year although ours don't get done that often. It's important to get the grit out of them though as that shortens the life of the carpet. Don
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Postby nutmeg on Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:47 pm

I might add two things to the last 2 posts,

1) if they are truly vintage orientals you want them hand washed, and NOT put through a wringer or press and as mentioned air-dried.

2) You need to know if your yarns were 100% nautural dyed, synthetic dyes were used, or a combination of both (synthetic dyes started showing up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries depending on the location of manufacture and if it is a true persian or other regionally woven rug.

3) You also need to know the material it is backed with or wafed with, not just the cut/pile yarn.

I've found the "oriental rug, restorers" are the best source of information for who knows their stuff about carpet cleaning - and if you have a vintage gem that needs extra careful hand washing care or if it can handle the wringing press sort of like an automatic car wash-cleaning (complete beating brushes and dried with heat). Although I haven't watched my local resource, the outfit that when I visit my grandmother in New Jersey and always arrange to take her antique rugs/carpets to for cleaning has let me watch the process. Usually its a two part process - first when dry they super duper vacuum both sides of the carpet while it is suspended, then they hand scrub it. When drying (in the air) they don't hang the rug itself, but they clamp it to a drying frame and hang the frame. Suspending the wet carpet or rug to hang from itself can ruin it causing fibers to break from the wafting and/or cause it to be misshappen they'll use vacuum extraction of the major moisture but never squeeze, wring or compress to extract the moisture and then let the rest evaporate, a good outfit will rotate the rugs that are drying regularly so it dries evenly and inspect each time for signs of stains showing up as it dries. Before the carpet dries completely if they notice a stain area they go back to working on the carpet right away - they're masters at using various methods to remove them (stains). All the rugs I've dealt with are animal hair, and not silk fibers - and had jute or similar, not synthetic backing. I've been told by the folks in New Jersey those soaps and never detergents are used. I've always had special wool pads designed for "orientals" custom made for every vintage rug I've acquired and used them, as recommended by restorers. I've never laid a vintage or antique "oriental" directly on a hard floor and always used "carpet coasters" for any furniture point of impact (potentially damaging the weaving fibers) that sat on top of the rug/carpet.
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Postby drew in baltimore on Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:20 pm

In college I took a decorative arts class at one of the university's historic house museums. They had over 500 antique persian rugs in the collection.

When we got to the topic of fine rugs, the curator said that the best and safest way to clean them was to take them outside on a clean pavement and wash them with a garden hose and a little some baby shampoo. Then let them dry flat on the pavement for a day or 2.

I have done this and it works well. You'll be amazed at how dirty the run-off is. Just don't put them under a tree to dry or the birds will leave droppings on them.
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Postby drew in baltimore on Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:31 pm

I just read that according to a recent study, a 9x12 oriental rug can hold up to 87 lbs of dry soil without ever looking dirty :shock:
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Postby Sacto Diane on Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:39 am

drew in baltimore wrote:In college I took a decorative arts class at one of the university's historic house museums. They had over 500 antique persian rugs in the collection.

When we got to the topic of fine rugs, the curator said that the best and safest way to clean them was to take them outside on a clean pavement and wash them with a garden hose and a little some baby shampoo. Then let them dry flat on the pavement for a day or 2.

I have done this and it works well. You'll be amazed at how dirty the run-off is. Just don't put them under a tree to dry or the birds will leave droppings on them.


One of the A&C rug makers had some info on their web site and this is the process that they used after the weaving. Bascally wash down with running water and a mild detergent on a flat surface. After that, let air dry. I'm pretty sure this is the basic process that some of the rug cleaning places use.

DO NOT dry clean and don't use a "carpet cleaning" (e.g. rug doctor) process.

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