Even when an owner takes meticulous care of a fine rug, sooner or later it will inevitably show a dirty spot. Especially for a prized possession such as a fine oriental rug, the initial reaction can be to run to the cabinet to find your favorite homemade or brand name cleaner, but using either of those can fall under the category of what not to do when spot cleaning a rug. In fact, some of these substances can make a spot or stain even worse and may cause irreparable damage.

To best care for an oriental rug, owners should seek the help of a professional rug cleaner. These individuals understand the intricate process required to properly clean a rug, as well as remove spots and stains without compromising its integrity.

Most Common Types of Rug Spots and Stains

Whether a rug is located in a high traffic area, in an out of the way corner, or mounted on a wall, rugs can be magnets for dirt and other spot-causing substances. The most common causes of spots are typically:

  • Animal urine
  • Food stains
  • Makeup
  • Mud or dirt
  • Wine stains

While each can be different in color and texture, these substances all have one primary thing in common, they can be hard to get out of a fine rug, and if not handled appropriately, it could permanently damage the rug.

Why Spots Should Be Treated By A Professional As Soon As Possible

For many owners, a fine rug is not simply an object of function, but also a valuable expression of art. Oriental rugs are usually hand knotted, made from natural materials such as sheep’s wool, and originate from places across the globe such as India, Persia, Nepal, Turkey, Tibet, Afghanistan, and Turkey.

An investment such as a fine oriental rug should be well protected in order to help it keep its integrity. Even the smallest or faintest spot can negatively affect the rug’s value while also impacting its artistry.

Whether it is a new spot or an existing blemish, a rug owner should seek to remove a stain as soon as possible, but not all spot removal methods are equal—especially when it comes to taking care of a fine rug.

What Not to Do When Spot Cleaning A Rug

Spot and stain removal can be tricky, and the more valuable an investment a rug is, the more care must be exercised. There are some things that a rug owner should not do when spot cleaning a rug, including do-it-yourself and household cleaners and products such as:

  • Baking Soda: This substance is considered alkaline and can contribute to the deterioration of a wool rug. Although it may help with subduing an odor in the rug, it seldom does anything to treat the spot itself. Adding liquid to the baking soda will make a paste that can further mar the fibers.
  • Chemical Cleaners: Grocery and pet stores have aisles full of chemical-based cleaners, but these are not appropriate for caring for a fine oriental rug. These chemicals may do more than just deteriorate the fibers over time but could also be harmful to pets.
  • Soap or Detergent: Neither of these agents are efficient at removing odors, and while they may temporarily appear to clear a stain or surface, in some cases it may actually help a stain to sink lower into the fibers of a rug only to resurface later as it attracts dirt.
  • Vinegar: While known to be a good cleaning agent for some surfaces, a rug is not one of them, especially when it comes to pet stains. In addition to not masking the odor of pet urine, it can actually add to it due to its acidic base.

How to Clean a Fine Oriental Rug

It can be tempting to use one of the above products to do a little spot cleaning on a fine oriental rug at home, but the best way to remove a spot or stain is to have the rug professionally cleaned by a company that knows how to properly care for a hand-crafted rug.

A professional rug shop will generally use a six-step process to clean and care for a rug, including:

  1. Initial inspection. Before actively cleaning a rug, it is critical to do a thorough inspection to locate imperfections and stains in the fabric. Identifying these spots early on helps ensure that they get the additional attention they need.
  2. Dusting. A dedicated machine is often used to loosen and remove dust and dirt from the fibers of a rug in a delicate manner so as not to damage them. This step makes professional rug washing even more productive.
  3. Pre-Treatment. This phase of care is often dedicated to treating particularly stubborn spots and stains to help enhance the rug-washing process. The professional will take special care to prevent the bleeding of dyes and color in the fibers.
  4. Washing. An experienced professional rug washer uses special machinery to wash both sides of a rug with water that is a specific temperature, flow, and pH balance. In some cases, an additional cleaning solution may be applied to stubborn spots and stains.
  5. Drying. A thoroughly washed fine oriental rug is incredibly heavy and difficult to handle. Improper handling of the rug fibers when they are soaked could damage the entire rug if not performed delicately. To complete the drying process, a unique drying instrument is used.
  6. Pile Lifting.  Specially designed for area rugs this machine scrubs the hardened wool and softens as it lifts the pile to its original height. 

Some stores may also offer storage services to ensure that a properly treated, cleaned, and dried rug is then stored away from dust and other contaminates so that it stays clean until the time it is picked up and returned to the owner.

To learn more about what not to do when spot cleaning a rug or to get more information about having a rug professionally cleaned, choose a company that specializes in fine rug care.