Living in the Houston area often means a number of weather events that make caring for water damaged rugs an ongoing maintenance routine. Whether the rug is an original woven antique or a contemporary, it can be upsetting to lose a rug because of flooding or a broken pipe.

Not all methods of cleaning are equal.

Most people don’t realize that there are several different approaches to caring for water damaged rugs. Here is the breakdown of the primary differences:

Rug Washing

For those who know the importance of caring for a finely crafted oriental rug, most choose to do a proper rug washing vs. rug cleaning. It is essential to let the rug professionals handle the washing in order to stay true to the culture and tradition of the rug.

When it comes to rug washing by a professional, these are some of the steps the professional will take to ensure a rug is thoroughly washed:

  • Washing fine rugs – If you have a hand-woven Persian or other very expensive rug, it’s a good idea to contact the professionals for the caring of water damaged rugs. This does not mean contacting your local dry cleaner or steam cleaning company. The best option is working with a fine rug dealer that specialize in more high-end rugs. They have the machinery and expertise to address any kind of stain or damage done by flooding or burst pipes.

    In fact, some of the other factors to be aware of is bleeding colors or discoloration. A professional can carefully spend time restoring an expensive rug back to its original state. And while there is a level of soaking a rug to remove the dirt that gets embedded into the fibers, it is important to use the right kinds of cleaning solutions so as not to damage the fabric. Neighborhood dry cleaners that offer rug cleaning do not have the level of expertise or the proper materials to adequately wash an expensive rug.

  • Hand washing – This is a tedious process and is also best left to the professionals as it requires hand scrubbing the rug in small portions. First, the rug is thoroughly vacuumed on both sides to eliminate some of the dirt and debris from the fibers. Then a soft scrub brush and cleanser will be used, gently scrubbing the rug with the right amount of pressure (not too much, so as to ruin the fibers), gently washing a small area in a circular motion. This is a long and tedious process to get the entire rug clean, thoroughly rinsed and completely dried. 
  • Steam cleaning – This is a method that is commonly used on carpets and for general cleaning to remove dirt. It can be effective for the general upkeep of carpet and some synthetic rugs, however it is typically not used for caring for water damaged fine rugs. In cases where there has been flooding or pipe leaks, the saturation of the water in the rug requires a different type of care.

Why caring for water damage on rugs is different than everyday cleaning.

In order to understand how water damage impacts the care of rugs, it’s important to look at the cause and effect of this kind of situation. When a pipe bursts or a house is flooded due to extreme weather, it only takes about 24 hours for mold to grow on a rug. Mold is a tricky organism to deal with. It smells bad, it grows quickly, and it is hard to eliminate.

Along with mold comes bacteria, which is harmful to your skin. Pets, children and anyone who exposes their skin to bacteria can get sick, which increases the problems associated with asthma, skin rashes and other medical issues.

Many people think the solution is to air out the rug or expose it to sunlight to dry out the mold. The problem is, the mold may dry, but it doesn’t go away.

Here are the steps needed to remove extreme amounts of water from rugs:

  • After a flooding event, the very first thing to do is to remove the rug from the area, so it is not stepped on and tracking dirty water and bacteria around the house.
  • Soak up as much of the moisture as you can by blotting it with dry towels and turn on a fan to help with the drying process.
  • Call a professional to restore your rug. You may not think the damage is severe enough for a professional to address, but if you try to repair the rug yourself, you may weaken or damage the fibers and create discoloration.


Protect your investment by not cutting corners.

The best advice when a quality rug has been damaged by flooding is to avoid any DIY solutions and work with a professional that specializes in fine rug care. If you spent a lot for the rug in the first place, it is more of a valuable investment than simple home décor. Protect your investment by working with a reputable rug dealer that knows the ins and outs of water damage, regardless of the source.