How To Deep Clean / Shampoo your Oriental Rugs
Professional rug cleaners are expensive. I have a couple of cats and one of them always 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 a pro to come out (more than once in a while) to clean my rugs.
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 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 if you’re here looking for answers, 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.
What is the Material Used in Your Oriental Rug?
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.
Oriental Rugs Made from Silk
A silk rug is more expensive than and not as durable as a wool rug. There's significant risk involved with cleaning Oriental silk rugs by yourself, so for these, I would advise you take your rug to a professional to have it cleaned. I wouldn't even mess with it.
Oriental Rugs Made from Wool
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).
Oriental Rugs Made from Mercerized Cotton
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.
Oriental Rugs Made from Synthetic Rayon
Rayon has the benefit of being highly resistant to staining. The good news is the rug will come clean easily; the bad news is - you don't have a real Oriental rug (What does it matter, really? Your secret is safe with me!)
Special Considerations when Cleaning Oriental Rugs
- 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 rather than doing it yourself.
Some Oriental rugs are worth many thousands of dollars. Cleaning of these precious items should be performed by a rug cleaning professional - especially if there is a critical emergency where your rug could be damaged. Professionals use special solvents and methods to clean and preserve the rug.
Cleaning Your Oriental 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 this and that.
- 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 are 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 as well. 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. At all costs, you want to 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 on your oriental rug.
Deep Cleaning - Method 1 (Cleaning the Rug inside the House)
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 cleaning 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 quite often).
Here are the steps for cleaning a rug inside the house:
- 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 with this step.
- 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.
- Lay the rug lay and let 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 Outdoors)
This deep cleaning is more thorough but takes more time as the carpet will be saturated with water and will have a longer drying time.
Make sure to dry the rug completely 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.
Below are the steps for deep cleaning your oriental rug outside:
- Vacuum both the back and the front of the carpet.
- Take the rug out side and shake the rug to remove any remaining dirt and debris. Again, if this is a large rug you may need some help as you’ll want to grab each of the 4 corners and shake well to remove as much dirt as possible.
- Move the carpet to a good area for washing (sweep and clean the area before washing the rug). It should be flat and someplace you won’t mind getting wet like a patio or garage.
- Use the garden hose and spray the rug with cold water.
- Make your cleaning solution with a small amount of diluted commercial rug shampoo (per the manufacturer’s suggestions) or 3 tablespoons 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. To determine the direction of the nap, rub your hands across the rug in the direction of the fringed ends. You will most likely notice in one direction the coloring is darker and in the other direction the coloring is lighter. The lighter color is 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.
Removing Stains from Your Oriental Rug?
Below is a link to Part 3 of our 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 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.