FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How often should I have my rugs cleaned?
For a rug under moderate use, the longest you should wait in between professional cleaning is two years. Entry rugs that get high traffic, or rugs that are in areas with a lot of activity from small children or pets, can be cleaned annually. Because wool has the ability to hide a great amount of soil and contaminants before it “looks” dirty, a consistent dusting (vacuuming) routine is important to help you extend the length of time in between professional cleanings. Visit “home remedies” for proper dusting and spill instructions.
Should I ever have my rugs cleaned in my home?
The recommended method for cleaning natural fiber (wool, cotton and silk) rugs is a full immersion wet wash. Dusting and thorough rinsing are the 2 most important steps in the cleaning process, and both are not possible with an in-home surface cleaning method. This can lead to “soapy mud” being left in the foundation of the rug, because the soap mixes with the foundation dirt and the lack of thorough rinsing leaves this behind. This can mean that the rug has a sticky feel to it afterwards, which will attract dirt to it more quickly. It can also lead to premature sun fade and also fiber wear.
If cleaning a rug in-home is the only option available, you must locate a cleaner that is a specialist in handling wool and natural fiber. Contact Wools of New Zealand to locate a Wool Specialist. www.wonz.com
Can I safely vacuum my rugs at home?
Yes you can, in fact, this is the most important thing that you can do for your rugs, but here are some tips to follow:
- Ideally, if you are vacuuming weekly, you should use a non-beater bar vacuum or a handheld upholstery attachment to run the over the top of the fibers. What you want to do is pick up the dust that has settled on the tips of the fibers before they work their way down to the foundation and become abrasive material that causes wool to wear and break down over time.
- If you do use a beater bar vacuum, then set it on the highest-level setting and run your vacuum strokes from side to side (this way you will not accidentally suck up the fringe tassels – our #1 repair).
- 1-2 times a year, if possible, turn your rug face down on a smooth surface and use an upright beater bar vacuum cleaner and slowly vacuum the back of the rug (again on the highest setting). The vibrations from the bar will shake out some of the deep down dirt. Pull the rug over, and vacuum the dirt from the front of the rug. Sweep up the dirt from the floor (if you vacuum the floor you will prematurely wear the bristles on the beater bar).
- If you have hard floors in your home, you know how much fine grit and dust settles on your floors … this also settles on your rugs daily, but you do not notice this because it works its way down to the base of the fibers. A regular dusting routine will help your rug to last longer, and will also let you extend the time in between professional immersion cleaning.
I want to store my rugs at home – what should I do?
Rugs should always be stored cleaned and mothproofed if going into long term (longer than 6 months) storage. For storage, wool and cotton rugs should be rolled with fibers facing inward, and silk rugs with the fibers facing outward. Blankets and flatweaves can be folded. Items should be wrapped in Tyvec™ or acid-free paper, not plastic. The items should be elevated off of the floor (in case of flooding or dampness), and nothing heavy should be stacked on top of them.
Is my rug worth cleaning up and fixing?
There are many interpretations of ‘value‘ regarding a rug. What it would cost to buy another one in a retail store and what would someone be willing to pay you for it could be two very different amounts. A rug that you grew up with may make it very valuable to you, but an appraiser may say that same rug has a very low value.
If you like a rug – if it reminds you of your childhood, or of a favorite trip overseas, or it fits your home décor perfectly – then you should keep it clean and in good condition.
If you have no sentimental attachment to the rug, and it can be easily replaced for less than the cost of ‘fixing’ it – then you should make a decision that you feel is the wisest. We will give you the information that you need to make the best decision for you.
I thought all rugs needed to be dry cleaned?
Oriental rugs have been wet washed for as long as rugs have been being woven. The preferred cleaning method for natural fiber rugs (recommended by Wools of New Zealand and the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration) is an immersion wet wash, because it is gentle, and also thorough rinsing removes residue from the fibers. Dry cleaning methods leave chemical residue that can lead to discoloration, and irritation to sensitive people or pets. Also, with no dusting step, the majority of the soil in the rug remains after the process is completed.
Why don’t you put the new fringe on by machine?
One of the benefits of doing work by hand is that the needle and thread can be wrapped around the warps and wefts, so that there is no structural alteration of the rug itself. This is a purely cosmetic repair, making the rug ‘look’ better.
When machine work is done on a handmade rug, the industrial sewing machine does not feel around the warps and wefts – it pushes its way through them. Repetitive stitches from a sewing machine cause damage to a rug’s foundation that cannot be reversed. It essentially ‘perforates’ the rug so that over time, that part of the rug that is weakened will pull away from the body of the rug, leading to the loss of hundreds of wool knots which devaluates the rug.
The industry rule-of-thumb is machine repairs are for machine made rugs, and hand repairs are for hand-made rugs.
Does cutting off the original worn fringe, or putting on new fringe, affect the value of the rug?
In most cases, the fringe has absolutely no effect on the value of a rug – it is just a byproduct of the weaving process. So cutting it off (as long as it is not so short that knots begin slipping off), or putting on a new fringe by hand, will not affect the value positively or negatively.
The exception to this would be some weaving countries that incorporate elaborate embroidery kilim designs in the fringe base. In these cases, it is obvious that time to weave in designs has been invested, and we would of course not recommend removing it.
What about fragile rugs – can they be hung?
When rugs become too fragile to walk on, hanging them becomes a way that you can still enjoy looking at your rug without worrying about causing foot traffic damage. However, some fragile rugs have foundation fibers that are so weak that even the weight of their own knots can cause tears while hanging.
Antique and semi-antique Hooked and Needlepoint rugs woven on jute foundations are an example of this. Over time jute deteriorates, and so these rugs literally fall apart whether walked on, or hung on the wall. The foundation is the “skeleton” of a rug, and when the skeleton becomes so brittle that it deteriorates … all that can be done are piecemeal repairs to try to delay the inevitable demise of the rug.
When hanging these pieces (and also antique Tapestries), we recommend attaching the entire weaving to a separate piece of firm cloth (usually linen or burlap, depending on the rug). Strategically placed stitching attached the pieces to this cloth to help distribute its weight to many different points, thereby avoiding too much weight from focusing on one particular area that could cause a tear to result. The cloth is then the focus of the Velcro, sleeve, or frame and it carries the majority of the weight of the rug or tapestry. This minimizes the future repairs that will be needed, and will allow you to enjoy the rug instead of having to watch it continue to fall apart on the floor.