How to Maintain & Clean Oriental Rugs

What is an Oriental Rug?

The term “Oriental rug” encompasses a wide variety of handmade floor coverings made in Asia and surrounding areas. You can usually identify them by their unique, intricate designs. Although Oriental rugs can be made out of many different fibers including silk, rayon and wool, this article will focus specifically on the most common subset of Oriental rugs, those made of wool. Contrary to popular belief, Oriental rugs are quite simple to care for.  They are one of the most sustainable types of floor coverings when cared for properly, and they are often passed down through generations! Although maintaining Oriental rugs doesn’t require a lot of time, they do require thoughtful care.

Air washing an Oriental Rug

Great for Hiding Dirt

Wool Orientals are among the most efficient soil-hiding floor coverings. Although hiding dirt may sound like a positive thing, it actually has its downsides— so let’s dig up the dirt about Oriental rugs!

Dry particulates typically make up about three quarters of the total soils in a rug or carpet. In most cases, a majority of the dirt and soil that accumulates in a rug is tracked in from outside. These soils act like sandpaper on the fibers of the rug, eventually causing them to abrade and wear out.

Unfortunately, vacuuming may not be enough to removal all the dry particles that have been pushed all the way to the backing of the rug. Beating rugs with a hand rug beater may seem like an outdated practice, but it’s actually an excellent way to remove unwanted soiling! Additionally, flipping the rug and running a beater bar vacuum over the back helps dislodge any soils that were stuck near the backing. If you don’t have a beater bar vacuum, many vacuums have a beater-bar attachment option.

While these DIY options are great for removing most of the dirt, professional rug cleaning services offer more effective methods for removing the soils that can be harmful to your rug. One of these methods includes “air washing,” which is a technique that blows out the dirt and dust with high-flow air.

Spot Cleaning

On all fabrics including Oriental rugs, spot cleaning agents should be carefully pretested. Cleaning products with optical brighteners or bleach should never be used on wool as they  can change the color and even damage fibers. Dye bleeding is a primary concern when spot cleaning Oriental rugs, especially those with dark colors. Carefully inspecting and pretesting each color in the rug is an important step to prevent unusual changes or color movement.. Although DIY spot cleaning is possible, we highly recommend leaving it to professionals to ensure the rug isn’t harmed.

Performing a Colorfastness Test

Apply a small amount of the cleaning agent to an inconspicuous area. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes and gently blot with a dry white terry or paper towel. If any color movement or unusual change is detected, stop and call your local Fiber-Seal Service Center for assistance.

Professional Cleaning

While you may be able to perform simple maintenance on your Oriental rug, cleaning should be left to professionals. The methods and chemistry employed by professionals is vastly superior to DIY techniques. These specialists know the best ways to effectively restore the beauty of wool rugs without the risk of harming the fibers or dyes within the rugs. Be mindful that if your Oriental rug has fringe, it is crucial to seek a professional cleaning since the delicate fringe will require careful hand washing.


Wool Oriental rugs are a sustainable floor covering choice due to their ability to withstand wear. Padding can help extend the life of these textiles even further by lessening the impact of foot traffic. The benefits of using a rug pad include:

  • The underside of the rug won’t wear out
  • The rug will be more comfortable to walk on
  • The rug will stay in its intended place
  • Keeps your flooring safe

Read more about rug pads here!


Oriental rugs should be rotated at least once a year to help them wear evenly. In rooms where Oriental rugs are exposed to natural light, rotating them lessens the chance of them fading unevenly.

Things to Look Out For


Unfortunately, we’ve seen many Oriental rugs that have been destroyed by moth larvae. Moths love to lay eggs in dark areas, such as under sofas or skirted chairs. After hatching, the larvae start to consume the wool fiber, causing damage to the rug. To prevent this from happening to your Oriental rug, vacuum regularly— especially in those dark spots— and get it professionally cleaned periodically.

Potted Plants

NEVER PLACE A POTTED PLANT ON AN ORIENTAL RUG! Leaking potted plants can inflict costly and sometime irreversible damage on an Oriental rug. The constant condensation of water on the bottom of a pot causes the woven back and the wool fibers to rot. Also be cautious about placing live plants anywhere near your rug.

Use Fiber-Seal as a Resource

Oriental rugs deserve the finest care since they are more than just area rugs— they are works of art! Therefore, they need specialized care. The fabric care experts at Fiber-Seal have been protecting, cleaning, spotting and maintaining wool Oriental Rugs for over 52 years and we are here to help you!  We are also a resource if you have any questions on how to properly care for your Oriental rug.

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