ORIENTAL RUGS... Handy Maintenance Tips

“Oriental rug” is a term that encompasses a wide variety of floor coverings, some of which have a thick pile look while others appear more flat. These rugs can be made from many different fibers such as silk, rayon and wool, but in this article we will discuss the subset of Oriental rugs made with wool.

Many consumers believe that Orientals require a lot of maintenance but that is not true. They don’t require a lot of time, but they do require thoughtful care.

Dirt Will Hide

Orientals with pile constructions are possibly the most efficient soil-hiding floor coverings to be found. While this is positive in some ways, it does have its drawbacks.

The majority of soil in floor coverings is particulate soil which has been tracked in from outside. These soils act like sandpaper on the fibers, causing them to abrade and wear out.

Unfortunately, vacuuming may not be enough to remove all the dry soils that have worked their way to the backing. The once common practice of beating rugs is not so outdated; it is still an excellent way to remove these unwanted soils. Another more practical way is to turn the Oriental rug upside-down and run a beater-bar vacuum over the back. This will dislodge much of the soil deep in the pile.

Professional rug cleaning operations have even more efficient methods of removing these harmful soils such as high-flow “air washing” that literally blows the dust and dirt out.

Spot Cleaning

As with all fabrics and floor coverings, spotting agents must be carefully pretested.
Dye bleeding is a primary concern when spot cleaning Oriental rugs, especially when dark colors are involved. Careful inspection and pre-testing should be performed on each suspect color and the rug should be dried as quickly as possible.

Wool fibers are receptive to acidic cleaning agents, but they are easily damaged by alkaline chemicals. (Fiber-Seal spotting agents in our Fabric Care Kit are formulated to be safe for wool and other natural fibers.)

Professional Cleaning

Oriental rugs should always be cleaned by professionals. The methods and chemistry employed by professionals is vastly superior to do-it-yourself consumer systems. Cleaning professionals know how to effectively restore the beauty of wool rugs without the risk of harming the fibers or the dyes.

Also, if the rug has white fringe, it is especially important to seek a professional cleaner since the fringe will require careful hand washing. However, even professional cleaning will not likely restore worn fringe to a “new” appearance.


Oriental rugs have a remarkable ability to withstand wear. Padding can help extend the life of these rugs even further by acting as an impact dampener. With a proper pad, the underside of your rug won’t wear out; the rug will be softer to walk on; and the rug will resist moving and wrinkling.


Rugs should be rotated at least once a year to insure that the rug wears more evenly in traffic areas. In harsh environments where the sun is very intense, rotation will lessen the chance that your rugs will fade unevenly.

Beware of Insects

All too often, we encounter a beautiful Oriental rug that has been damaged by moth larvae (sometimes, even in those rugs which have been “moth proofed”).

Moths will lay their eggs in dark areas such as under sofas or skirted chairs. The larvae emerge and start to consume the wool fiber. Because they are under furnishings, the larvae go undisturbed until they emerge again as moths to lay more eggs.

Periodic vacuuming and professional cleaning can help prevent damage from insects.

Potted Plant Problems

Leaking potted plants can inflict costly damage on an Oriental rug. The constant seepage or condensation of water on the bottom of a pot causes the woven back and the pile to rot. NEVER place a potted plant on an Oriental rug, and be cautious about placing a plant near one.

We Can Help

Oriental rugs deserve the finest care because they are more than area rugs, they are works of art and, as such, they need special care. The experts at your local Fiber-Seal Service Center are ready to help!

On the Bright Side

As always, the experts of your local Fiber-Seal Service Center are just a phone call away when you need assistance with the care of fine interior textiles. As you can see from this article, we answer questions that are not even related to Fiber-Seal. If we don’t already have the answer, we’ll help find it for you!