Why Wool Rugs Work:
In carpet fibers and other applications, wool's texture and resilience enable it to recover well from crushing, resist soiling and clean readily. Its unique fiber construction provides natural flame-resistance and high durability, resulting in a product that retains its appearance for years. Wool is a complex fiber that has evolved over thousands of years with the sheep who produce it, to protect them over a wide range of climatic conditions.
Wool cells come in two different types: the paracortex and the orthcortex, which lie on opposite sides of the fiber and grow at slightly different rates. This causes a three-dimensional corkscrew pattern of coiled springs much like shock absorbers, giving wool high elasticity and a "memory" that allows the fibers to recover and resume normal dimensions. Wool fibers can be stretched up to 30 percent without rupturing and still bounce back. Wool is also soil-resistant - releasing soil up to 25 percent more readily than synthetic fibers. The cuticle, or outer layer of the wool fiber, has a finely waxed surface with overlapping scales to keep soil in the upper area of the t, where it is easily removed.
The protective membrane on the cuticle also prevents water from readily penetrating the individual wool fibers. This same waterproof membrane allows the fiber to absorb moisture in vapor form.
Water vapors coming through the cuticle pores bond with amino acids in the cortex - the main bulk of the fiber. This lets wool absorb up to one-third of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, making it resistant to static electricity. This moisture-absorption property also helps wool recover from pressure marks.
Wool's high moisture content and protein constituents provide natural flame resistance.
Proper cleaning is important to maintain a wool carpet's original appearance. A planned maintenance program should take into account the likely level of soiling and cleaning costs. Facts to be considered include: traffic patterns; type of soiling, such as street grime near entrances or food and drink in refreshment areas; cleaning schedules; and personnel, equipment and resources available.
It has been said that an oriental rug doesn't wear out; instead, it is more likely that a rug may "wear out" several generations! With proper care and maintenance, you can pretty much guarantee that your oriental rug will become a cherished family heirloom. Oriental Rugs made of wool are easily maintained, are extremely durable and consistently out- perform other materials. Unlike other fibers, wool is much more resilient, cleans better and stays clean longer, under similar conditions.
For regular care, following these simple steps are recommended:
Depending upon the location and traffic your rug is subject to it should be rotated 180 degrees every six months to two years to insure even wear. Try not to use a rug on a very uneven floor. An area of the floor that is raised (a loose floorboard, a transition strip from one flooring material to another, etc.) causes the part of the rug that covers it to wear much more rapidly than the rest of the rug.
Inevitably; some dirt and grit will escape the vacuum and work its way deep into the nap of the rug. Oriental rugs should be washed every three to five years, depending on their use and the amount of traffic they undergo. Using steam-cleaning or chemicals on an Oriental rug removes the natural oils from the wool. The pile becomes brittle, and the carpet wears out sooner. Do not, unless absolutely necessary, submerge an Oriental rug in water. Surface cleaning is usually all that is required. Squeezing or wringing out an Oriental rug dislodges the pile from the foundation. Let the rug dry on a towel or on the grass for a day on its back side. The beauty and life of Oriental rugs are vitally dependent on their cleanliness. Lack of maintenance will contribute to loss in the potential investment. For best results, always use an experienced professional cleaning service that specializes in hand-made oriental rugs.
Sweeping the rug with a broom at least once a week removes loose soil and brings out its natural sheen.
WEAR & TEAR:
If a rug is cut or torn, it can get worse very quickly. Have a competent person repair the damage as soon as possible. With ordinary use, the edges tend to fray. Worn edges can be reovercast. Fringes can be replaced. Worn or damaged areas in the middle of a rug can be re-knotted. Even large holes can be restored. (Although this work is rather expensive. ) To repair a less-valuable rug, a patch from a similar rug can be woven into the damaged area. Sometimes a serviceable small rug can be made from the undamaged portions of a large carpet.
The use of top quality padding under your oriental carpet can prevent the rug from sliding on smooth flooring, prolong the life of the rug by cushioning the impact between shoe sole and hard floor surfaces, and provide comfort under foot , besides providing protection from dirt , wear and double the life of an Oriental rug. A pad should be about an inch smaller than the rug all the way around (not counting the fringe) so that the pad will not show beneath the rug. In addition, protect your rug by using adequate protectors under heavy furniture legs.
PROTECT FROM FUMES & DAMPNESS:
Fumes from furnaces, stoves, chimneys and auto exhaust can mix with humidity in the atmosphere to form an acid that fades and deteriorates the wool. Over time, dampness will rot the threads and destroy the fibers of a rug. This can be avoided by obvious means.
Your oriental rug doesn't need special pampering. But it does need the same care and attention you would give any fine possession. An oriental rug's greatest defense against wear and tear is the very substance of the rug itself: wool. Wool fibers tend to keep everyday dirt particles toward the surface. As you walk on the rug, however, these dirt particles can be forced down into the nap of the wool and begin to cut into the wool strands, where the harshest damage occurs. Regular, weekly vacuuming removes surface dirt before it settles into the rug. Never vacuum against the nap, as this presses dirt back into the rug. Vacuum in the direction of the rug's pile. (You can determine the direction of the pile by running your hand across the rug: it will feel smooth direction and upbraid in the other. Vacuum in the smooth directions.) Do not vacuum the fringes. The suction of a vacuum cleaner can tear the fringe. Use a low suction level and a new bag.Use a vacuum that has a good beater bar, as this removes more dirt than a regular canister vacuum. If you rug is new, you expect some shedding at first. This is natural, and you need not be alarmed. Shedding will subside after a few months of regular use and care. Always avoid the fringe area. Damage to fringe can destroy the value of a rug and is very costly to replace.
Beating is one of the best methods for cleaning a rug. It should be beaten several times on each side, always in dry weather.
Revive carpet pile that has been crushed by heavy furniture by brushing the indented area with a soft brush. Moisten with a spray bottle, and brush again.
Before hanging carpets on the wall, be certain that the warp threads can stand the strain. Use a strong poster holder to distribute the weight of the rug evenly. Do not use nails or staples to hang a large rug for long periods of time.
When a rug is to be stored for more than a few months it should be cleaned, sprayed with insecticide, and wrapped in fabric. It can rot or mildew in plastic. An Oriental rug needs to breathe. A rug can be rolled up and stored in a chest with some paradichlorobenzene crystals, which make the wool inedible to moths. Renew the mothproofing every few months. Large carpets should be rolled around poles with the protruding ends resting on blocks or trestles. A rug stored in a damp or humid area will mildew, which discolors and weakens the fibers. A hot or poorly-ventilated storage area will dry out the base of the rug, making it brittle, destroying strength and durability. Store the rug in a clean, dry place out of the reach of squirrels or other rodents. Periodic inspection of the rug is strongly recommended. Water Damage Most varieties of Oriental rugs have wool pile, but many have cotton warp and weft (the warp is the foundation upon which knots are tied to create the pile; the weft runs over and under warp strings between rows of knots to strengthen the rug from side to side). This cotton foundation can be weakened, and sometimes actually rotted, if the rug is wetted repeatedly and not properly dried. A common cause of such damage occurs when potted plants are placed directly on a rug. The plant is watered regularly, the pot leaks, and the rug under the pot stays permanently damp. Within two or three weeks the foundation of the rug can become so weak that chunks can be torn from the affected area by hand. If you use planters near a rug, try to place them on a slim legged stool, or a caster-based support that lets you see under the pot and allows for ventilation. After watering the plant check to be sure the rug under it is completely dry. Another form of water damage can affect rugs used in a basement or other area below grade level. If the basement floods the potential for damage is obvious. The rug must be removed quickly, properly cleaned, and allowed to dry completely. A more insidious form of damage can be caused by using a rug over a damp floor (as is often the case if the floor is cement). Even though the floor is not noticeably wet to the touch, there can be enough moisture to allow microorganisms to flourish in the material of the warp and weft and to degrade the strength of the rug's foundation. A rug damaged in this way will often feel peculiarly stiff when manipulated. The rug will sometimes be so stiff it will be difficult to roll, and if you listen carefully to the back of the carpet when it is creased or folded, you can often hear the cracks and popping noises made by breaking warp and weft fibers.
Puppies tend to chew rugs because of tooth growth. The best way to prevent chew damage is to control the puppy by keeping it away from the rug. Sometimes sprinkling an ounce of moth flakes under the rug along the edges will help the dog keep his distance from the rug.
An old trick of some rug cleaners is to bleach the cotton fringe of a rug snowy white before returning the rug to the customer (on the theory that if the fringe looks nice and clean, the whole rug looks cleaner). Unfortunately, chlorine based bleach weakens natural fiber over time, causing "dead fringe"--fringe so weakened by repeated bleachings that a tug can make the fringes fall to bits. If you must have snowy white fringe, use a dilute bleach solution, and be sure to rinse the fringe very thoroughly.
Moths can cause extensive damage to Oriental rugs, however, a carpet in use is rarely in danger from moths. Frequent rotation and regular exposure to light and air keeps moths at bay. Not only do moths eat the pile, but they can also eat the knots on the back of a rug. Moths are especially attracted to areas under furniture that remain relatively undisturbed. It is quite simple to eliminate these pests and safeguard against their return by spraying the front and back of a carpet every six months with moth spray. Flying clothes moths do not eat your rugs, but the females do lay hundreds of eggs each, and the eggs hatch into larvae that consume wool, fur, feather, and silk fibers. Moths and their larvae thrive in dark, undisturbed areas where a rug gets little traffic and is not often vacuumed. A bad infestation sometimes leaves a cobweb-like veil in the area of the damage, along with fine, sand-like debris. An infestation often involves more than one rug, and can spread to (or from) woolens or furs hanging in a closet or sweaters stored in a drawer. A rug damaged by moths is not difficult to repair, but reweaving a large area of the rug can be expensive. To identify the presence of moths, look for one or more of these signs: flying moths -- the common clothing moth (tineola biosatellite) is the villain. It's small, 3/8" long or less, and is usually silvery tan or soft brown in color. This moth flies slowly but with a rapid flutter of small wings. If you try to snatch one out of the air, the clothes moth folds its wings and drops to the floor.
bare spots in the pile -- often moth larvae will prefer the taste of one color yarn over another, and so the bare spots may involve some specific colors but not others.
webs -- white gossamer filaments covering a patch of the rug's pile (often only present with a bad infestation).
cocoons -- 1/8" diameter x 1/2" long slightly fuzzy cylinders usually the same color as the rug's pile (larvae camouflage their cocoons to blend in with the color of the wool that surrounds them).
larvae in the pile -- slender, white, worm-like moth larvae about 3/8" long can sometimes be seen just after hatching, before they've constructed cocoons. It is the larvae that actually eat the wool.
sand-like particles down in the pile of the rug -- this material, often tan or brown in color, regular in size, and granular in look, is the excretion of the larvae.
broken/loose plies -- where the larvae have chewed through yarn overcastings or bindings.
To prevent moth damage: Vacuum the entire face of the rug weekly if possible. At least several times a year, vacuum the back side of the rug and the pad and floor underneath. If the rug is too large to handle, flip the edges over, and vacuum at least one to two feet in along the borders on the back side of the rug. The corresponding areas on the pad and floor should also be vacuumed.
Be aware that moth balls, flakes, or crystals (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) are ineffective in moth control for rugs. These materials act only as a minor repellent to moths. They do not kill moth larvae, and the naphthalene odor can be unpleasant and difficult to remove from the rug. Cedar scent is useless as a prevention for moth damage.
Any place the vacuum cannot reach, such as areas of the rug under furniture, or a rug hung on the wall, can be sprayed with a household, non-staining insecticide made for the purpose. Most of these products contain pyrethrins (a class of insecticide originally extracted from the flower heads of chrysanthemums) among the active ingredients. Although poisonous to many varieties of insects, pyrethrins break down quickly after application and are considered safe for use in the home. BE CAREFUL IN CHOOSING AND APPLYING ANY INSECTICIDE. Choose a
product designed for the intended use and follow directions for application, storage, and disposal carefully.
CARPET BEETLE DAMAGE:
Similar in appearance to moth damage, but caused by the larvae of a small (1/8" long), dark brown or brown-black insect. Beetle larvae damage is usually not as severe, nor as messy as moth damage. Strategies to prevent or treat moth damage will be effective against carpet beetles as well.
Most rug dyes are quite resistant to sun fading or bleaching. Still, ultraviolet rays are a powerful force of Nature, and a rug will likely fade over time if used for years in a very sunny area. Consider sheer drapes to block some of the direct sunlight, and try to turn the rug end-for-end once a year to even out possible color changes, to safeguard your investment.
Cats which are not de clawed can do significant damage to a rug if they habitually sharpen their claws on it. As with dog chews, the best prevention is to control the cat's activities. Sometimes a squirt gun (squirt the cat when it starts to scratch the rug) can be used to condition the cat to avoid the rug.
TO MOVE A RUG:
When you move a big rug to adjust its position, there is a better way than just to pull with brute force on the fringe or edge. A simple trick is to rapidly wave the edge of the rug up and down a foot or two close to the floor while pulling. This ripple effect sends a cushion of air under the rug, making it very easy to move.
TO LAY A RUG FLAT:
If a rug has been folded for shipping, there may be wrinkles or creases when you lay it down. To flatten them out, first determine which way the nap lays (rub your hand across the pile in the direction of the fringe: the pile will feel smooth one way and will roughen up when rubbed in the opposite direction). Stand at the end of the rug with the nap running toward you. Roll the rug up from this end as tight as you can, then slowly unroll and smooth it down along the way. Persistent wrinkles in the same spot can be pressed from the face of the rug using a steam iron on "wool" setting (be sure to iron the pile in its original direction). Persistent wrinkles should be attended to, as premature wear along the ridges made by the wrinkles can result.
CURLED CORNERS AND CURLED EDGES:
Because of the way it is woven, a rug may have corners and/or edges that tend to curl under. Straighten them out when you lay the rug down. If the edges curl badly, the rug may need the attention of a good rug repair person. Using a rug with badly curled-under edges or corners causes unnatural wear patterns that can damage the rug and be difficult to repair properly. Try to dampen the curled surface and overturing the curled surface under weight for at least 24 hrs, to straighten out curled edges.
SIZING OR BLOCKING A RUG:
When a rug is out of square or has built-in wrinkles, sizing or blocking may help. A rug is sized by turning it over, making it as square and flat as possible, and fastening it down along the edges (we use a staple hammer). A mixture of sizing and water is sprinkled over the back of the rug, and the rug is allowed to dry. The moisture in the sizing helps equalize tension in the foundation of the rug, and the sizing helps the rug hold its square, flat shape. Note that even a good quality rug is rarely perfectly rectilinear. When blocking a rug the choice is sometimes between getting it flat or making it square--from the standpoint of what's good for the rug, it is almost always better to make the rug flat than to make it perfectly rectilinear. Used with care and when appropriate, sizing makes a rug more attractive and usable. Used incorrectly, blocking can distort or even damage a rug. Over-aggressive blocking will not remedy the problems of a badly crooked or poorly woven rug. Don't try this at home! Sizing is definitely a process best handled by an experienced dealer or rug repair person.
TIPS FOR CLEANING UP SPILLS
1. Act immediately to prevent virtually any spill from becoming a stain. You can stop further penetration of the spill, and stop its chemical reaction with the rug's fibers and dyes.
2. Blot; don't rub. The best way to blot any kind of spill is to scoop it up with a spoon. Scrape off any solids.Squeeze down in the direction of the nap to get as much as possible out. Using a clean towel, blot up as much moisture as possible. Blot or brush lightly from the outer edge toward the center of the stain.. Rubbing will spread the stain.
3. Do not soak. Work from the outer edge to the center.
4. Pat dry with paper towels.
5. Dry with fan or hair drier.
6. Brush to restore pile.
If you know the nature of the stain, follow the instructions in the chart below.
To prevent spreading the stain or causing a ring when using the cleaning solvents, always blot or brush lightly from the outer edge towards the center of the stain (especially for pile carpets).
The following three solutions will be required together with a dry cleaning solvent and some white absorbent cloth or tissue.
1. Detergent Solution: One teaspoonful of neutral detergent such as "Woolite" to 1/2 pint (1/4 litre) of warm water.
2. Detergent or Vinegar Solution: Add one teaspoonful of white Vinegar to the Detergent Solution.
3. Ammonia Solution: One tablespoon of household ammonia to one cup of warm water.
Alochol/Wines: Blot up the suject spillage. Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge, using little at a time and blotting with dry cloths frequently.
Blood: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Chewing Gum: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Following with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Chocolate: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Coffee: Blot up the surplus spillage. Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge of the stain, using little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
Egg: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edege and blotting dry. Following with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Fats: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Fruit: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Glue: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent Solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Following with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Grass: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent Solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Gravy: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Grease: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Ice Cream: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Lipstick: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Liquid Foods: Blot up the surplus spillage. Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge of the stain, using little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
Milk: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Nail Polish: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Oil: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Perfume: Blot up with the surplus spillage. Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge of the stain, usling little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
Shoe Polish: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleanining Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Soft Drinks: Scrape up excess with a blunt knife. Use Detergent solution, starting at the outer edge and blotting dry. Follow with Ammonia solution. Blot dry.
Solids: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Tar: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Tea: Blot up the surplus spillage. Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge of the stain, using little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
Urine: Blot up the surplus spillage.Use Detergent or Vinegar solution. Work from the outer edge of the stain, using little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
Vomit: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Wax: Scrape up with a blunt knife. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent followed by Detergent or Vinegar solution. Blot dry.
Animal stains . These accidents should be dealt with as fast as possible. Soak up liquids and remove solids. The area should be treated with a light alkaline solution such as club soda to remove the acidity that discolors the wool. It is also a good idea to use a deodorant type spray to discourage a repeat performance!
Pet urine: Of the most common spills, urine presents the most severe problem. It can cause severe color run in the rug, and the odor can be very hard to remove or disguise. Urine can also chemically damage the structure of a rug by making the foundation hard and less supple. Repeated wettings can cause the foundation of the rug to loose mechanical strength to the point where the rug cracks and breaks when rolled or folded.
In case of urine on a rug, the problem is much more easily handled if the spot is treated promptly, before the spill is allowed to dry. Blot up as much liquid as possible with paper towels or a clean, white cloth. Try to rinse out as much of the spill as possible.
A smaller rug can be taken outside and rinsed with a hose and cool water (try not to saturate the whole rug--it will take much longer to dry if you do). With a larger carpet, the corner or edge can be laid in a plastic dishpan and saturated with cool water or a bucket or plastic garbage can can be placed under the wet area of the carpet and cool water poured through the rug (make a hollow in the carpet over the container before you pour, and don't exceed the capacity of the container under the rug!). Add about 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon to the rinse water--vinegar helps prevent colors from running and will help neutralize the urine odor.
After the rug has been rinsed, blot dry and sponge with rug shampoo or with the solution given below. Let dry thoroughly (drying a wet area of a larger carpet can be hastened by arranging the carpet so that air can circulate both top and bottom--drape the end of the carpet across a lawn chair, or put a sawhorse or painted bench under the rug in the area of the wet spot).
Pet stool, regurgitation: If a pet regurgitates on a rug, you are faced with removing a complex mixture of foodstuffs, saliva, and stomach acids. Depending on the foods involved, this mixture can actually work as a dilute dye to stain the pile a different hue. If a pet regurgitates or defecates on a rug, clean the area immediately by picking up as much material as possible with paper towels or with a clean, white cloth. If necessary, use a tablespoon to scrape up all the foreign material. Blot the area dry and immediately sponge several times with rug shampoo or with the cleaning solution listed below. Don't scrub hard--too much manipulation of the pile may make the stain worse. Sponge in the direction of the nap. Mud :should be allowed to dry and then brush it off with a stiff brush or use the vacuum cleaner.