Frequently Asked Questions


The best way to keep a rug clean is to minimize its contact with dirt in the first place. Removing outdoor shoes when entering the house helps alot. Bare-foot or socked traffic is much gentler to a rug than a hard outdoor-shoe sole or high heel, and leaving your outdoor shoes at the entrance to the house tracks in much less dirt.

Have your rug cleaned only when it really needs it. Rugs in some places will need a cleaning once a year. Rugs in other areas can go several years and more without needing professional cleaning.

To judge how dirty a rug is, try one of these methods:
  • Pick up a corner of the rug and while holding it, kick the back of the rug sharply. If a cloud of dirt flies out of it, the rug is dirty and needs cleaning. NOTE: some dust and wool fibers are normal!
  • Kneel down on the rug and rub the pile - the density of fibers make up the rug - intensely with your hand in a short arc for 5 to 10 seconds. Look at your fingers and palm: if your hand is dirty, the rug needs cleaning.
  • With the pile facing UP fold part of the rug back upon itself so that the pile opens along a line of knots. Look down into the base of the pile at the foundation of the rug. If the warp and weft look dirty, there is dirt deep in the pile where a home vacuum cleaner cannot reach it. The rug needs cleaning.

It's easy to clean small rugs yourself. The process is best done in a utility room or garage (on a clean floor) or outside on a clean driveway or paved walk on a nice, sunny day:

  • Vacuum both sides well.
  • Shampoo the rug with cool water and mild liquid soap or rug shampoo (don't use strong detergents, ammonia water or sudsy ammonia water). TEST FOR COLOR RUN IN A SMALL AREA FIRST. Use a soft, long haired brush or a firm, non-shedding sponge. Brush the pile firmly with linear motions in the direction of the nap: don't scrub too vigorously. Wet the nap thoroughly with the soapy water.
  • Wash fringes with the same soap solution. Use a laundry brush and brush repeatedly away from the pile.
  • Rinse thoroughly with running water.
  • Squeeze out excess water--a rubber window squeegee works well. Squeegee the pile repeatedly in the direction of the nap until no more water is forced out.
  • Lay flat to dry. When the nap feels dry, turn the rug over; the back is probably still damp. DRY THOROUGHLY.
  • If the pile feels a bit stiff when dry, brush gently or lightly vacuum.

You should clean stains immediately after they occur. By never letting a stain set, you can avoid having your Oriental rug permanently damaged. You want to clean your rug once a month; regardless of how clean you think it may be, rugs pick up a lot of dirt every day from regular use. Flip your rug regularly so that no side sustains more damage from the sun or everyday use than another. Always clean the rug carefully so you don’t spread the stain.

Urine can cause severe color run in the rug, and the odor can be very hard to remove. Urine can also chemically damage the structure of a rug by making the foundation hard and less supple – and by attracting moths 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.

These stains are best 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). With a larger carpet, the corner or edge can be laid in a plastic dishpan and saturated with cool water or a container 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.) 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. Allow to dry thoroughly – this is easiest done if both sides of the saturated rug are exposed to air to dry.

This unfortunately can actually work as a dye to stain the pile of the rug or carpet a different color. 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 too hard—this actually can spread the stain. Sponge in the direction of the nap.

Spot Cleaning Solution
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar*
  • 1/2 tsp liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 2 cups tepid water

*Most Oriental rug dyes are acid-fast. By adding a little white vinegar to the wash water you make the wash water more acidic, and this reinforces the bond between the dyestuff and the wool in the rug – preventing color runs.

Finally, sponge the area with cool, clean water to finish. Use absorbent towels or a firm, non-shedding sponge. Don't use a brush so stiff that it pulls fibers from the pile. Don't scrub hard at the pile. Sponge in the direction of the nap. Place some towels under the spot to keep floor or pad from getting wet. Dry thoroughly. When the nap feels dry, check the back of the rug to be sure the area is completely dry.

  • Mix three parts water and one part vinegar.
  • You never want to use soap or other harsh chemicals. Most Oriental rugs are made with vegetable dyes (natural dyes) which can easily run or discolor. Harsh chemicals will cause discoloration. You do not want to use soap because there is no way to remove it 100% without rinsing it with high pressure which would cause color runs. Vinegar is an old remedy to naturally clean and restore Oriental rugs, the colors will become more vibrant and it will provide a natural clean.

Mix the concoction in a spray bottle and lightly spray the rug evenly, allow to dry.

Use the same solution for the fringes of the rug.

Work a light brush through the fringes like you are brushing hair.

  • If the fringes are pure white – potentially cotton - apply less vinegar and place a fan by the fringes to dry it faster. Cotton fringes are known to turn brown.

Place a floor fan on the rug to dry it faster. You do not want the Oriental rug to sit wet on your hard floors, the longer it sits wet, the better chance it has to mildew.

  • Do not hang the Oriental rug when it's still dripping - this will cause color run. You can hang the rug while it's damp but make sure that it is no longer dripping.

Cleaning inside the house:

  • Completely vacuum your rug.
  • If you can, take the rug outside and shake it to remove the remaining dirt. Sometimes it’s easier to do this with another person depending on the size of your rug.
  • If you’re using a steaming machine make sure only to use cold water in it and follow all instructions.
  • Spray, and then extract the water (with gentle strokes). Clean one small area at a time.
  • Work the rug until all the extracted water is totally clear.
  • Lay the rug down until it is dry.
  • Place a box fan next to the rug to circulate air and speed up the drying process.

Cleaning Outside

This cleaning method will take slightly longer as the rug becomes immersed in water. Make sure the rug is dried completely to prevent mold. Although the rug may feel stiff immediately after being cleaned, after being laid out flat and vacuumed it will soften gradually over the next week.

Below are the steps for deep cleaning your oriental rug outside:

  • Vacuum both sides of the carpet.
  • Shake the rug vigorously outside to remove all dirt.
  • Move the rug to a flat clean area for washing.
  • Spray the rug with cold water from a hose.
  • Make a cleaning solution with a small amount of diluted commercial rug shampoo according to instructions, or three tablespoons of a mild dish washing soap with a gallon of water.
  • Test cleaning solution first in a small area to determine if rug is color safe.
  • Using a soft, long brush, clean the carpet stroking in the direction of the nap. To determine the direction of the nap, rub your hands in the direction of the fringed ends. One direction’s colors is usually lighter – that is the direction of the nap.
  • Rinse the entire carpet and fringe with clean water.
  • Use a squeegee to remove any excess water.
  • Dry flat.
  • Vacuum when dry.

Absolutely! The specific materials that the rug is made from determines it’s proper cleaning method. The two common kinds of material in Oriental rug making are silk and wool. However there are many imitation silk rugs made from mercerized cotton or synthetic rayon.


A silk rug is more expensive and delicate than a wool rug. It is best to get these rugs cleaned by a professional due to their extreme fragility.

Oriental Rugs Made from Wool

Most Oriental rugs are made out of wool. As long as they don’t include rare special pigments, they can be easily deep cleaned with a bit of elbow grease.

Oriental Rugs Made from Mercerized Cotton

Many false "silk" rugs are actually made from this shiny treated cotton material. Taking care not to let fabric color bleed, wash these rugs with the same process as we do with wool.

Oriental Rugs Made from Synthetic Rayon

Rayon is highly resistant to staining and will clean easily – however it’s not truly an oriental rug.

Considerations when Cleaning Oriental Rugs

  • Age
  • Condition
  • Previous damage
  • Dye
  • Being washed or painted
  • Monetary value

Delicate, antique, damaged, or high value rugs should always be taken to a professional rug cleaner rather than doing it yourself - especially if there is a critical emergency where your rug could be damaged. Professionals use special solvents and techniques in order to clean and preserve the rug.

Cleaning Tips

Deep cleanings are recommended on an “if-needed”, rather than regularly scheduled basis.

  • Be careful. It is wise to be careful with your valuable rug. Look under the corner of your rug to see if there are care instructions on a label.
  • Always follow the care instructions on the rug label. Do not run the risk of damage, as Oriental rugs are usually very expensive or have great sentimental value.
  • Always test cleaners in a small area first. You definitely want to avoid dye colors running or from damaging fabric with harsh cleaners.