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Advice for Cleaning Persian Rugs

Persian rugs are renowned throughout the world for several reasons. Many rug connoisseurs value them for the beauty of their symmetrical patterns and designs. Others value them for their considerable resale value, as they’re often considered the most expensive of the Oriental rugs. Persian rugs are appealing from an aesthetic standpoint due to their high-quality materials, knots, and bright, beautiful colors.

For these reasons and more, it is important to maintain and clean your rug appropriately, especially when accidents occur due to spills, smudges, pet stains, and general discoloration. Many of these incidents can be taken care of with minimal fuss—but for the heavy duty jobs, a Persian rug cleaning expert will be required.

To determine your level of need, we’ll go through the three stages of Persian rug care: Pre-Cleaning Tips, Spot-Cleaning Procedures, and Professional Persian Rug Cleaning.

Stage 1: Pre-Cleaning Tips

It stands to reason that the best way to keep Persian rugs clean is to keep them from getting dirty in the first place. One sure-fire way of doing so is removing footwear before entering your home. This should be done for two reasons: first, it prevents people from tracking dirt, mud and other debris from outside, and second, the foot traffic from a shoeless foot (be it barefoot or sock foot) is lighter and therefore doesn’t wear on the fibers of your rug as much.

Another pre-cleaning tip is to rotate your rugs on a regular schedule. We recommend doing so approximately every 6 months so that your rug wears evenly. Regular rug rotation also helps keep the colors uniform throughout the rug.

Vacuuming your rug regularly is also very important to maintaining the health of the rug. This process helps to remove unhealthy contaminants and particulates. Please note: don’t use the spin brush on the fringe or binding of the rug as it could cause your rug to unravel over time.

Photo: Godofredo A. Vasquez, Houston Chronicle

Finally, don’t forget to take your Persian rug into a professional rug cleaner on a regular basis to increase the lifespan of your rug. How often you have your rugs professionally washed or dry-cleaned depends on the amount of traffic and activity you have in that room. If you have an active living room with pets or children, you may need a professional cleaning once to twice a year. However, if the rug is maintained well and rotated on a schedule, you could go for longer periods of time between washings. These cleanings maintain the overall fiber quality and shine of your rug.

Stage 2: Spot-Cleaning Procedures

Despite your best attempts to prevent them, accidents will happen. Fortunately, you can take care of many of the spills and stains yourself with some cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease. It is also crucial that you act quickly, for the longer a stain isn’t removed the greater the chance it will be absorbed into the fibers of your Persian rug.

The majority of spills can be treated with a simple spot cleaning. All the ingredients you need for an effective spot-clean solution can be found at home: a bucket of cold water, a gentle, neutral pH detergent and a wash cloth. Gently blot the spill dry, then lightly apply the mixture of water and detergent to clean the area. Remember not to rub in a stain, as that will only cause the liquid to penetrate deeper into the rug fibers. Also be sure to lift the wet parts of the rug off the ground until it is fully dry, as this allows the knots to air out and prevents mold growth. If necessary, use a hair dryer or fan to make sure the area is completely dry. If done correctly, the spill can be cleaned up without leaving a stain on your Persian rug or carpet.

Stage 3: Professional Persian Rug Cleaning

In some cases, you’ll find that even your best efforts to clean your rug yourself are unsuccessful. Perhaps you noticed the stain too late and it set before you had a chance to clean it up. Or perhaps the stain was especially tough to remove, resulting in further unintended damage. Whatever the case may be, you’re now at the stage where a professional area rug cleaning is required.

Keep in mind that rugs should be brought in for professional cleaning even when obvious stains are not present. In addition, some stains (e.g., urine, wine, wax, feces, and blood) won’t come out through washing alone and will need discoloration removal. Because Persian and Oriental rugs are especially delicate and sensitive, you don’t want to take any chance of having it ruined beyond repair.

A good Persian rug can appreciate in value over time when it’s cared for properly. With that in mind, have a professional Persian rug cleaner inspect your rug to assess the level of work that needs to be done. From there, you’ll be informed as to the extent of cleaning needed for your rug and be quoted a price for the work. Considering how valuable Persian rugs are, the money spent getting them professionally cared for is well worth it!