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Surface cleaning techniques have limitations and problems that contribute to Oriental rug retailers, appraisers and collectors identifying them as harmful to use on hand woven rugs.

In-home surface cleaning generally avoids the two most important steps in the cleaning process – dusting and rinsing – and the remaining grit in the rug foundation and remaining chemical residue in the wool face fibres can contribute to wear, colour loss, yellowing or other nightmares. Surface cleaning at home also does not allow the cleaner to clean the fringe tassels properly.

Removing dust and grit

  • A rug has to be vacuumed before it is wet cleaned. A tightly woven rug can hold pounds and pounds of dirt in its foundation fibres … all of which will become mud when you get it wet.
  • Rug bathing also makes the surface cleaner and softer.
  • In the good old days, one would drape a rug over a railing or a clothesline and beat it with a rug beater and clouds of dust would billow out.

There are easier ways to achieve the same goal of getting the dirt out of the rug’s foundation fibres.

  • Upright vacuum cleaner. Put the rugs carpet pile down and run a vacuum along the back side to “shake” the dirt out of the middle of the rug and onto the floor. Flip the rug over and vacuum up the dirt.
  • Air mover. Place the rug carpet pile down and clamp an air mover on one end and let the rug flap up and down and “beat” the dirt out. Don’t clamp the rug fringe.
  • Compressed air. You can “blow” dirt out if you channel the air to the back of a rug. Even a big shop vacuum with the setting to “blow” instead of “vacuum” can force soil out of a hanging rug, or a facedown rug that is lifted away from the floor by something as simple as some rubber non-slip mats (the dust blows out and into the crevices and holes of the matting).

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