How To Deep Clean / Shampoo your Oriental Rugs
Professional rug cleaners are expensive.
Since my kitty seems to run for one of my oriental rugs in particular when she's feeling under-the-weather (why, I'll never know!), my budget can't afford their weekly services.
So, let me start off by saying that maintaining your rugs cleanliness is essential in keeping your Oriental rug looking beautiful. There are some basic cleaning tips that many of us know about, but don't seem to abide by. (I'm guilty too!)
Even though these rugs were meant to last, neglect will get to the best of them. Knowing how to care for your rug will help to keep it in tip-top-shape for years to come.
Luckily, you can shampoo, deep clean and remove stains from your rugs yourself if you have the knowledge, enough time, space and an ambitious attitude.
You clearly have the ambition, and thanks to my little kitties- I'm quite an expert on cleaning my oriental rugs, so I've got plenty of knowledge to spare!
So, without further adieu, let's get down to business and I'll teach you how to deep clean your oriental rugs.
The material the rug is made from determines the proper cleaning method.
There are two basic types of material used in Oriental rug making; wool and silk. But, of course things get complicated; there are imitation silk rugs made from mercerized cotton or synthetic rayon that we have to take into account.
Silk rugs are more expensive than, and not as durable as wool rugs. There's a significant risk involved with cleaning Oriental silk rugs by yourself, so you should take your rug to a professional to have it cleaned. I wouldn't even mess with it.
The majority of Oriental rugs are made out of wool. Excluding any special considerations they will clean up in a jiffy (with just a little bit of manual labor, of course).
Mercerized cotton is shiny and some "silk" rugs are actually made from this treated cotton material. Cotton should come clean with the same process used to clean wool. Care should be taken to insure the fabric dyes do not bleed.
Rayon has the benefit of being highly resistant to staining. The good news is the rug will come clean easily; the bad news is that you don't have a real Oriental rug (What does it matter, really? Your secret is safe with me!)
- Previous Damage
- Hand Dyed
- Washed and Painted
- High Value
I'm sure you realize that delicate, antique, high value or damaged rugs should be taken to a professional rug cleaner.
Some Oriental rugs are worth many thousands of dollars. Cleaning of these precious items should be performed by a rug cleaning company- especially if there is a critical emergency where your rug is going to be destroyed as they use special solvents and methods to clean and preserve the rug.
To keep your Oriental rug looking its best, a deep cleaning is recommended only if needed, not on a scheduled basis.
- Proceed carefully. I'm highly skeptical to start with of many cleaning methods posted on the internet. Anybody can write a cleaning article, and there are plenty of sites giving out bad advice on how to clean things already.
- It's wise to be cautious. It is wise to be careful with your valuable rug. Before you do anything, look under the corner of your rug to see if there is any care instructions on a label. (My rug has one glued right on the back of it). You might have a happy surprise and see a full list of care instructions on the underside of your rug too. How nice to have all the guess work taken away.
- Always follow the care instructions on the rug label. Do not run the risk of damage, as Oriental rugs are usually very expensive or have great sentimental value
- Always test any cleaners you use in an inconspicuous place first. Avoid dye colors running or from damaging fabric with harsh cleaners.
- NO HARSH CHEMICALS! Did I need to say that? Hopefully not, but I'm going to anyway. Never use bleach, ammonia or any other strong cleaners.
Deep Cleaning Method 1 (Cleaning The Rug Inside):
Efficient Cleaning Tip: I use a nifty little deep cleaner from Bissell that is not considered a heated steam cleaner.
Instead of using steam, this deep cleaner machine works by lightly spraying the area with cleaning solution (or plain water) that you fill the unit with and then applies suction to extract the water immediately after.
It's light, portable and for under $100, it's great for emergencies, and you can use it to clean and brighten the fabric fibers without completely saturating the rug. (I use mine all the time)
- Thoroughly vacuum your rug.
- If possible, take the rug outside and shake it to remove any remaining dirt. For larger rugs you may need help.
- Use plain COLD water in the deep cleaning steam machine and follow the deep cleaners’ directions for usage.
- Spray, and then extract the water (making sure to use gentle strokes). Work in one small area at a time.
- Go over the rug until the extracted water is clear.
- Leave the rug lay flat to completely dry.
- Place a box fan next to the rug to circulate air and speed up the drying process.
Deep Cleaning Method 2 (Cleaning The Rug Outside):
This deep cleaning is more thorough but takes more time too.
Because the carpet is saturated with water it will have a longer drying time.
Make sure that you dry the rug completely and as soon as possible to avoid mold or mildew damage.
The rug fabric may feel a little stiff or "crunchy" after cleaning and drying, but as long as the rug is flat, the fibers will soften as you vacuum and walk on it over the next few days.
- Vacuum both the back and the front of the carpet.
- Take the rug out side and using a friend if needed grab each of the 4 corners and with the nap pointed down, shake the rug to remove any remaining dirt and debris
- Move the carpet to a good space for washing. It should be flat and someplace you won’t mind getting wet like a patio or garage. Make sure the floor is clean.
- Use the garden hose and spray the rug with cold water.
- Mix your cleaning solution with a small amount of diluted commercial rug shampoo (per the manufacturers suggestions) or 3 TBL of mild dish washing soap like dawn detergent with 1 gallon of water.
- Test your water/shampoo solution in a small area to make sure your carpet is colorfast.
- Using a soft, long haired brush, clean the carpet in the direction of the nap.
- Rinse the carpet and fringe with clean water.
- Use a squeegee to remove any excess water. (For best results, use the little deep cleaner I mentioned above to extract more of the excess water.)
- Dry flat.
- Vacuum when dry.
Do You Need To Remove Stains From Your Rug?
Here's part 3 of the Oriental rug cleaning series that reviews removing stains from oriental rugs:
Relax and Enjoy Your Beautiful Oriental Rug
Deep cleaning an oriental rug is easy as long as you know the tricks.
Because these rugs can get so dirty but generally clean up fast, there's often a dramatic difference in the appearance of the rug after it's been cleaned. It might even look just like new.
If that's the happy case, you deserve congratulations. Since you must enjoy your rugs as much as I do mine, sit back and relax and enjoy your clean and stain free oriental rug!
Image of silk oriental rug is courtesy of Behnam Khodayari, CC BY-SA.