Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the questions that we are frequently asked.
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 cleaning. Visit “home remedies” for proper dusting and spill instruction.
Should I ever have my rugs cleaned in my home?
The recommended method for cleaning natural fibre (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 leave 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 fibre 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 fibre Oriental rugs and carpets.
Contact the NCCA (National Carpet Cleaners Association) to find a professional in this field on 0116 271 9550
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 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 over the top of the fibres. What you want to do is pick up the dust that has settled on the tips of the fibres before they work their way down to the foundation and become an 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 number1 repair).
– 1or 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 fibres. A regular dusting routine will help your rug to last longer, and will also let you extend the time in between professional full 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 fibres facing inward, and silk rugs with the fibres facing outward. Blankets and flatweaves can be folded. Items should be wrapped in Tyvek or acid-free paper, not plastic. The items should be elevated off of the floor (in case of flooding), and nothing heavy should be stacked on top of them.
Is my rug worth cleaning and repairing?
There are many interpretations of “value” regarding a rug. What it would cost to buy another one in a retail store and what someone would be willing to pay you for it can 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 favourite trip overseas, or it fits your home décor perfectly – then you should keep it clean and in good condition.
If you have no attachment to the rug, and it can easily be replaced for less than the cost of “repairing” 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 woven. The preferred method for cleaning natural fibre 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 fibres. Dry cleaning methods leave a chemical residue that can lead to discolouration, 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.
Can 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 purely a cosmetic repair, making the rug “look” better.
At Classic Rug care, we also have a machine made fringe developed as a second option to replace worn and damaged fringes on handmade rugs, a third option of tucking the fringes underneath the rug to protect them is also available – all these options can be discussed to determine the best result – all options are stitched by hand to the rug. 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 is weakened and pulls away from the body of the rug, leading to the loss of hundreds of wool knots which devaluates the rug.
The rule of thumb in the industry is machine repairs are for machine-made rugs, and hand repairs are for handmade rugs. There are very few exceptions.
Does cutting off the original worn fringe, or putting on the 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 kelim 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 fibres 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 attaches 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.
Cleaning “Tea Washed” Rugs – The Must-Read Advice For Owners
Tea Washed Rugs are rugs that have been over-dyed with a brown or golden dye to darken the rugs look to make it appear to have the look of an “older” rug.
The solution used to over-dye the rug looks similar to tea, which leads to the term “tea wash.” These rugs are also referred to as “Henna Washed” or “Antiqued.”
The darker colour is either sprayed on to the rug, or the rug is soaked in the solution. Many of these solutions are not permanent and can be removed with just water.
The tell-tale signs of “Tea Wash” are cotton fringes that are brown or golden instead of white. Usually, you can untwist a single tassel and discover the “white” underneath.
There are some very attractive Tea Washed Rugs and the higher quality pieces (i.e. less likely to wash out) is generally sold in the higher end rug galleries.
Sometimes rugs are given a “Tea Wash” because they have past colour bleeding damage or stains that the seller wants to “hide” with the over-dyeing process to sell a damaged rug at a higher “undamaged” price. Reputable rug dealers do not pursue these unethical practices.
In most cases, this “over-dye” process will wash out unevenly giving the field of the rug a blotchy look and the fringe will become unevenly whiter as well.
Our wash process is gentle. We use a mild shampoo and cold water on all wool rugs and we use a vinegar soak to “set” the rug dyes for cleaning. All of this is rinsed out thoroughly.
Even with our gentle process, we cannot “set” the Tea Wash over-dyed (with a more permanent iodine type dye bath), the field will become lighter and the fringes whiter. Some rugs lose a great deal of their “tea” over-dyeing. The higher quality product loses very little (if any).
Our goal is to remove from your rug the dirt, dust, bacteria, odours and contaminants that have collected in the fibres during its use on your floor – and to do so in a manner that is not harmful to your rug. We use products that are safe for rugs, for people and for pets. Unfortunately, getting the rug truly clean may lead to a loss of this tea dye.
We will test the “Tea Wash” over-dye with a dry cloth and also with a damp cloth. If the dye easily transfers from your rug to this cloth, then we are very certain that this over-dye will wash out of your rug fibres and fringes even using cold water, vinegar and mild shampoo. The “look” of your rug will change and may uncover some old stains or any discolouration that are now “hidden” by the tea over-dye process. You can either proceed with the wash knowing these risks – or you can choose to replace the rug (keeping a dirty rug in your home is not a sanitary choice).
If no “Tea Wash” transfers onto the dry cloth and very little or none does so with the damp cloth, then there should be little loss of colour in the field of your rug…..but the fringes will have a noticeable whitening and blotchiness (the cotton does not hold the dye as well as the wool will).
As the owner of a Tea-Washed rug, you will need to advise us that you have read the information above and understand the risks involved (as well as the expectations) and authorise us in writing to proceed.
What You Need To Know About Pet Stains and Pet Odours
How does pet urine damage your rug?
Pet urine (and pet vomit) goes onto your rug hot and acidic. With the heat this causes rug dyes to bleed, it causes the urea in the urine to discolour the fibres yellow and the acidity “sets” all of this damage in place. It is as if the rug has been re-dyed.
The heat also causes the stain to penetrate the fuzzy fibres and go into the inside of the rugs foundation fibres. Most rugs are woven on a cotton foundation. Each single strand of cotton fringe runs all the way through the rug to the opposite side. This cotton “skeleton” absorbs the pet urine and is very difficult to remove.
Most contemporary rugs are chemically treated (this is especially true for rugs from China and Pakistan) which makes them sensitive to sun fade and also to stains. Pet stains on these rugs cause a loss of dye that is permanent unless you treat it quickly.
What other problems can occur because of pet stains?
Besides the immediate damage of discolouration and odour, the long-term damage from pet stains can contribute to the dissolving of rug dyes. Old pet urine stains go from an acid stain when fresh, to an alkaline stain when they sit for weeks. The alkalinity causes the chemical bond of rug acid dyes to wool to shift and the fibre releases the dye and there is a loss of colour. The dyes essentially “dissolve” and will wash away with cleaning in every area with an old pet stain. This cannot be reversed.
With rugs that have a latex backing (tufted) the pet urine penetrates this latex and is locked into the adhesive. The odour cannot be completely removed from these latex backed rugs. (If your rug has a material cover backing, it has latex)
What can you expect from cleaning?
Our wash process is gentle and safe for rugs, for people and for pets. We use a mild shampoo and cold water on all natural fibre rugs and we use a vinegar soak to “set” rug dyes for cleaning so that we can safely clean the rug. We then soak the rug in an enzyme solution to remove the odour causing bacteria from the fibres and the foundation of the rug. All of this is rinsed out thoroughly. Our success at removing the odour will depend on how long we can safely soak your rug. Our success at removing the stains varies with rug type and age of the stains but pet stains are always assumed to be permanent.
After reading this information and understanding the risks involved (as well as the expectations). We need authorisation in writing that you wish to proceed.
What You Need To know About Heavy Soil and Rugs
Dirt is abrasive and is the leading contributor to rug fibre damage and loss. The more soil that is ground into your rug’s fibres, the shorter life your rug will have. Rugs under normal use should be professionally cleaned at least every two years.
If left for an extended period of time, dirt ground into rug foundation fibres can contribute to the growth of mildew and dry rot, which can cause structural damage to older rugs. Certain contaminants can also contribute to discolouration of the rug fibres.
Soil from food sources can lead to insect activity and damage and make your rug a breeding ground for a wild variety of insects. Even insects that do not typically feed on wool or silk will do so if the fibre is covered with food or drink spills.
Besides damage to the rug’s fibres and foundation, heavy soil can cover up pre-existing rug conditions that a skilled rug cleaner needs to identify before beginning the cleaning process, such as pre-existing dye bleed in the fibres or the presence of certain stains. We cannot do our pre-inspection properly when there is heavy soil.
Soil is more than just dirt and grime. It is a wide variety of contaminants that have come into your indoor air and on everyone’s shoes (or paws). Car exhaust, smoke, mould spores, allergens, dust mites, cooking odours, aerosol chemical sprays, bacteria and germs. Frequent proper cleaning of your rugs and other soft furnishings contribute to improving the indoor health of your home.
Our wash process is gentle and safe for rugs, for people and for pets. We use a mild shampoo and cold water on all natural fibre rugs and we use a vinegar soak to “set” rug dyes for cleaning so that we can safely clean the rug. All of this is rinsed out thoroughly. If your rug already has pre-existing colour bleed from a past cleaning, or from isolated liquid spills, our dye setting process will “set” this dye bleed permanently. We cannot be held responsible for dye problems that may already exist with your rug but is currently hidden underneath heavy soil.
If your rug is heavily soiled, we will require that you read the above and give us written authorisation before we can proceed with cleaning your rug.
Cleaning Afghan Rugs What Owners Need To Know
Afghan rugs are weavings from the country of Afghanistan. The majority of these rugs are wool knots woven on a wool or flax foundation. The wool fringe is an off-white, beige or brown colour. The colour scheme of the field generally incorporates bright reds and black. They also produce “war rugs” with military designs in the field.
Though there are room-size finely woven rugs from Afghanistan, many of the pieces brought into the UK are true tribal weavings in smaller sizes.
Tribal weavings, because they are woven on smaller looms (and often during travelling if the weavers are nomadic), do not have the symmetry or the stability of the city factory woven rugs. For many, this “less than perfect” and more creative quality is what draws them to collect tribal pieces.
Cotton is used as the foundation fibre for most rugs because it allows more symmetry and the rug is flatter when on the floor. Afghan rugs with wool foundations (due to the difficulty in obtaining rug quality wool) do not lie flat and do not have an even tension in the weave. Usually, corners are curled upward and there is noticeable asymmetry.
Especially if the wool is spun by hand, the twists in wool fibres are different from batch to batch used in the weaving process and as with wool jumpers that upon a first cleaning can tighten and loosen in different areas, this happens to every single Afghan rug woven on a wool foundation during its first wash. This means that these rugs do have a high likelihood of changing their shape during their first wash.
Due to the war-torn nature of Afghanistan, certain standards of rug weaving quality cannot be monitored. All rugs from every country have a certain bit of “extra” dye that comes out in the very first wash. Rug fibres are to be washed thoroughly before they are woven into a rug, yet with tribal pieces, this is generally not as thorough as desired. This means that the first wash will release a sizeable amount of dye into the water.
Our wash process is gentle. We use a mild shampoo and cold water on all wool rugs and we use a vinegar soak to “set” Afghan rug dyes for cleaning (if spills have caused pre-existing dye bleed in your rug, this vinegar will “set” this pre-existing damage too). All of this is rinsed out thoroughly.
With Afghan rugs and their first wash, the shape will change due to the tribal weaving characteristics and the variance in the wool twists and tensions in the foundation. We will attempt to reverse some of this change by stretching the rug onto our rug stretching frames cautiously over a period of up to one week to try to give the rug a flatter, more stable shape.
Our goal is to remove from your rug the dirt, dust, bacteria, odours and contaminants that have collected in the fibres during its use on your floor – and to do so in a manner that is not harmful to the rug. We use products that are safe for rugs, for people and for pets. Unfortunately, a bath is the only way to thoroughly clean a rug and with these tribal pieces, this means the first bath will result in some buckling, some stretching and perhaps some shrinkage of certain foundation fibres. We cannot avoid this.
To truly get your rug clean you must realise that on the first wet wash your Afghan rug will change shape a little. We’ll let you know if we expect a “big” or “small” change as we will be able to see and show you the “warning signs.” There is nothing we can do to avoid this. Stretching afterwards will help lessen the change.
Your other option is to have your rug “surface cleaned” with just the top fibres being cleaned without getting the foundation wet (similar to how upholstery is cleaned). This is not as thorough a process and will not create great results from a heavily soiled rug (or one with pet odours) because the inside of the rug’s construction is not cleaned (which is where most of the dirt hides)….but it is better and more sanitary than not cleaning the rug at all.
If you own an Afghan rug, you will need to give us written authorisation to proceed with the cleaning of your rug.
We hope that you find these answers and the website useful and feel that we are the company that you will trust to clean and/or repair your rugs.