Lanolin, the natural oils coating wool fiber, is so moisture- and stain-resistant that Scotchgard, a synthetic version, was invented to mimic this effect on other fabrics. Quality wool carpets are easy to clean up, even when children or pets get to them. When you buy a real, hand-knotted wool carpet, they can easily last for 50 years or more, especially when properly cared for. However, they are not indestructible. Cumulative abrasion caused by dirt, grit, and traffic is the main source of damage to a hand-knotted rug. There are several simple things you can do to care for your rug and extend its life of beauty and usefulness.
Proper padding. The first step in protecting a rug from abrasion is to cushion it with a proper underlay. If the rug is placed over broadloom carpeting or other soft surface, a pad may be omitted, but may still be helpful if the rug tends to “scoot”.
Go “Eastern.” Many other cultures do not wear shoes indoors, and most hand-knotted rugs think that its owners shouldn’t, either. A no-shoes policy is helpful in minimizing abrasion, but if you prefer shoes, your rug can handle it just fine if you pay special attention to the next tip:
Regular Vacuuming. Vacuuming helps remove the dust, dirt, and grit that can act as sandpaper on the rug’s pile. Vacuuming should be done laterally (across the narrower part of the rug) to prevent raising the pile, which could allow dust and grit particles to settle closer to the rug’s foundation. Never vacuum the fringes of your rug. Instead, try brushing off the fringes with a small brush or the gentle hose attachment. Beater-brush vacuuming of the fringes can cause more rapid deterioration, and there’s always the risk the fringe will get caught in the vacuum.
Location and Rotation. It’s best to keep your rug out of direct sunlight as much as possible; extended exposure to sunlight may cause wool fibers to become brittle over time and can harm the dyes. We advise rotating rugs once or twice a year to minimize wear from sunlight, traffic patterns, and furniture.
Cleaning. Professionally cleaning oriental carpets is always a good idea. It removes embedded dust and grit and restores luster to the pile. Do not use self-service machines or commercial carpet cleaners; hand-knotted woolen carpets need specially formulated cleansing agents to protect the wool’s lanolin and dyes. We recommend cleaning every three to five years, more often if you have kids, pets, or a high traffic area.
Spills and Stains. Liquid or solid spills should be blotted or scraped up immediately. Try to remove stains yourself by using only water and a gentle detergent—hand dishwashing liquid is fine. Be sure to rinse well, and provide circulation to aid thorough drying. Treatment is most effective on fresh stains, so contact a professional right away if you can’t clean it yourself.
Unraveling. If the fringes, ends, or selvages of your rug begin to unravel, try to secure them as best you can and seek professional help before you lose your rug bit by bit. This is another case where an ounce of prevention (a $40 repair) is worth a pound of cure (a $500 restoration).
Mildew. Never place a plant on your rug. Water seepage from plants or pots will almost certainly cause fouling, mildew, discoloration and deterioration. Also avoid storing rugs in basements or other damp areas for the same reason.
Insects. If you suspect a problem with moths, bring your rug in for cleaning and moth-proofing. To “decontaminate” small rugs yourself, put them in the freezer below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days. This will kill moths at all stages of development without harming your rug.