Caring and Cleaning Handmade Carpets
The most important factor in maintaining and caring handmade carpets is to keep them clean. Dirt and contamination, not only diminish their beauty and appearance but also cause damage to them. It is obvious that carpets with a light background and high pile and those that are exposed to dirt and wear need more cleaning.
The best way to get rid of dust, girt and dirt are to clean the carpets with normal hand. Although this method takes a long time, still this is the one that we recommend. Powerful vacuum cleaners with rotary brushes should not be used to clean the rugs as these may loosen the knots. It’s also recommended to use a vacuum cleaner with a beater on the back of the rug, once every few months. By this method, all the grit, and the dust can be removed. Water and humidity can cause damage to a carpet. Excess water can be removed by a towel or a non-dyed cloth. Then this area should be dried with a hair-dryer, the heat of which should not be strong.
Cleaning Carpets and Stain Removal
If tea, coffee, juices, alcohol, shoe polish or any greasy substance stain a carpet, the first step is to absorb it immediately with a non-dyed cloth, blotting paper or tissue paper. Sponging with wool or silk and a compatible solution for removing the stain (tea, wine, and grease) should be done until removal of the coloring substance.
Each of the stains has a different technique for removing it. Many common substances are best removed from rugs and carpets with the following methods:
- Soft drinks, milk, coffee, tea, alcohol, and chocolate can be removed by a mixture of lukewarm water and soap or non-alkaline detergents.
- Eggs and bloodstains can be removed with a mixture of salt, non-alkaline detergent, and warm water.
- Human and animal urine is best removed with white vinegar with warm water. Clean grease, shoe polish and fatty substances with non-alkaline detergent and white vinegar.
- When fat spills on a carpet, it should be first gathered with a spoon, then a piece of non-dyed cloth should be placed over it and pressed slightly with a hot iron. With this method, the fat is absorbed.
The most important factors to preserve carpets and rugs for a lifetime and future generations are to keep them clean, to take good care and restore them immediately when damaged or rotted.
Normally a carpet should be washed every two or three years. When touched by hand, if the pile and the fiber of the rug are rough and sticky or dirty, depending on where the carpet has been spread and the frequency of its wear and tear, then the time has come for it to be washed. One can also say when the time for cleaning a rug comes, just by folding its corner and tapping the back of the rug, by hand. If any particles of grit, dust or pieces of wool fall off, then the rug should be washed.
A carpet can also be washed at home with great care. To test and see if a rug is color-fast or not, it’s enough to wipe a full-designed part of the rug with a damp white cloth. If the color stains the cloth, then the rug should not be cleaned at home.
Never wash antique & silk carpets and those that are not colorfast at home. They should be washed by professional rug-cleaning factories. They are equipped with specialty facilities to shake, wash, and dry the rugs.
The process of hand cleaning carpets at home needs experience, in addition to precision and great care.
The material used to wash rugs are very simple and elementary and most of them are found in every household: a pail, a brush with soft bristles, the length of which should not exceed three centimeters (made of natural flares), soap or special carpet shampoo without any acid elements.
ln the process of handwashing, the first step is to mix one cup of shampoo to ten cups of warm water. It’s better to add two spoonfuls of natural white vinegar to prevent the colors from running. After preparing the solution, lay the rug flat on a hard, smooth, and dry surface, i.e., on a terrace, balcony, with the pile of the rug facing upwards. Plunge the brush in the shampoo solution” Start from one corner moving gradually upward and downward into the pile until all the rug is thoroughly cleaned.
Try not to brush hard as this action seriously damages the rug. Never soak or plunge the rug in the solution because too much wetting may hurt and rot the foundation. It’s not necessary to wet and clean the back, warp, and weft of the rug, as this part is not exposed to dirt, as the pile. After the washing process, a brush should be used to carefully remove the left-over shampoo powder and dirt; the rug thoroughly cleaned with lukewarm water and gently brushed in the direction of the pile. Then, if the weather permits, the rug can be taken out to the open air with the utmost care. Sunlight is the best means to dry a rug provided that it is not strong, otherwise it causes the color to fade.
In rainy and wet weather it is advisable to dry the rug at home on a special wooden frame where the air flows. This facilitates the drying process. Avoid drying a rug on the lawn as the moisture in the grass may seriously harm and damage the foundation, the warp, and weft. ln no occasion place rugs near direct heat, fireplaces, open fire, stoves, radiators, and floors where warm water pipes pass underneath. Intense heat damages and dries the fibers and the oils of the wool causing it to lose its luster and making it brittle.
After both sides of the rug have dried completely and when touched by hand the warps and wefts feel soft, it can then be laid back gently to its former place. When a rug is still damp it should never be folded as humidity gradually penetrated and rots the foundation. Before washing a rug, all the dirt, grit, loose fibers, and fluffy wool should be removed by beating the back gently with a cane beater. Companies specialized in cleaning oriental rugs have mechanized beaters. During the hand cleaning process, if not completely removed, the remaining dirt transforms into a thick substance, like mud or sticky cement.
Subsequently, while removing this dirt the rug gets hard and rough and it may also shorten its life.
Repairing the carpets should be carried out after washing. A very tiny particle of design and the natural color also appear clearly on the surface when the rug is clean.
Small rugs should never be cleaned in the washing machine, the detergent, the water temperature, the movement, and the squeezing may ruin the fibers and the wool gets stiff and hard. Many rugs have gone to pieces when cleaned in the washing machine.
Rugs should be washed only in specialized professional rug-cleaning companies and never in dry-cleaners. The solution used by the dry-cleaners ruins the wool, the warp, and the weft.
What is a Moth?
“Tinea Pellionella” is the scientific name for the moth that is a tiny butterfly, 9 to 12 millimeters long.
ln the first two to three weeks of their lives, the female moth lays about a hundred eggs between the folds of rugs and other woolen textiles. ln one of the stages of its growth, the eggs of the butterfly are transformed into larvae. These larvae cause damage to fibers of the rug, by weaving webs on the wool and creating tunnels inside the fiber.
To protect the carpet from damage by moths, use compatible moth repellent available in the market. In order to store a carpet, clean it first and then use mothballs to protect it. Yet another way to combat moth is to frequently spray the front and back of the rug with anti-moth capsules containing insecticide fumes.
Ten Recommendations for Caring and Cleaning Handmade Carpets
- Keep the carpet protected from sun rays by heavy curtains or shutters.
- No object that is damp or likely to cause dampness should be placed over the carpet.
- To prevent localized wear and tear, occasionally move or turn the carpet so that the normal pattern of traffic is spread uniformly over different parts of the carpet.
- Carpets should not be spread under doors. The lack of space between the bottom of the door and the carpet can cause the carpet to fold and suffer excessive wear and tear.
- On hard surfaces such as marble or linoleum, the carpet should have an underlay or padding made of polyester to prevent sliding of the carpet, especially silk ones.
- The runners that are placed on stairs must be fixed on both sides with metal rods to prevent them from sliding. Once in a while, the runners should be pulled by a few centimeters up or down to ensure uniform wear and tear.
- If the carpet is spread over the stone surface or on the mosaic, it should be ensured that the Joints are not sharp and uneven.
- The leg of a chair, sofa, table, or any other heavy item of furniture damages the pile of the carpet. A small piece of linoleum, wood or other similar types of material should be put under the legs of these objects to protect wear and tear of the carpet.
- The portion of the carpet that remains under the bed or under any other piece of furniture should be frequently exposed to sunlight and fresh air, to avoid the growth of moths.
- Keep the carpet clean. It’s the most important recommendation. Cleanliness ensures longevity and perfect form.
In a house covered with rugs keeping domestic animals, especially if they are not trained, they may cause serious problems to the carpet. The acid and pollution existing in urine and residue affect chemically the fibers of the rug and alters the colors of the wool hence rotting the foundation. Most cats love oriental rugs.
They sharpen their claws by thrusting them into the fibers and play with the fringes of the rug thus pulling them out. It is therefore recommended to keep the untrained pets away from rugs. If damaged, the rug should be cleaned and repaired immediately.
Reference: “The Persian Carpet” by Javad Nassiri