How to Professionally Clean an Oriental Rug Without the Fear of Damaging It

23 June 2023
Est. Reading: 4 minutes
What's in This Guide?
Cleaning Items You'll Need.
Protima Rug Backbeater
Kirby vacuum cleaner
Triple Vac machine
Pro 35 CRB machine
Sapphire Scientific Hand Tool
Cleaning grid
Turbo drying rack
Oriental rug shampoo
Peroxide
Spray bottle
Soft bristle brush
Grooming brush
Drying brush
Microfibre towel
Rubber gloves

Introduction

It goes without saying that cleaning an oriental rug is tricky. But with the right knowledge, tools, and experience, it is possible to clean one properly.

This article will show you the process that professional rug cleaners (like us) use to clean oriental rugs. Failing to properly clean an oriental rug can cause damage to the structure and design. Drawing from our experience running a rug cleaning business in Ireland and having access to professional-grade cleaning equipment, we take you through the process.

Without further ado, join us in our epic 7-hour rug clean.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Twelve steps (and seven hours) to clean an oriental rug like the professionals do.

Step One: Pre-Inspect the Rug
Start by laying the rug on top of a raised cleaning grid. The next step is to inspect for any structural damage to assess the structural quality of the rug and whether any repairs are needed.

Note: The larvae of the carpet moth in our video at the bottom of this guide had gotten into the fibres and had started feeding on the wool. The rug is also starting to fray, caused by being walked on over time. After cleaning the rug, we will send it to our talented rug repairer for repairs.

Step Two: Back Beat the Rug
It is important to remove as much dirt and grit from the pile as possible. 95% of the soil in the rug is dry; therefore, one needs to get it out dry before introducing moisture.

  • Use the back beater on the front of the rug to loosen dirt embedded in the fibres.
  • Repeat the process until all the dirt and grit are removed.

At this point, you should already see an improvement; the lustre starts coming back, and the colours are looking more vibrant. This is the most time-consuming step in the clean; it took us about 2 hours to complete.

Step Three: Vacuum the Rug on Both Side
Run the vacuum over the front and back of the rug to remove any ingrained dirt. Going over both sides a few times will help to remove as much dirt as possible.

We use an American Kirby vacuum, which is a great vacuum cleaner with a good roller brush.

Step Four: Back Beat the Rug (Again)
Back beat once more to loosen any residual dirt. Then lift the carpet grid to see how much dirt is underneath and clean up any excess dirt. When you are down to 10% of what you started with, move on to the next step.

Tip: To test how much dust is in the rug, backbeat a small patch and check the level of dirt there is beneath the rug to see if the whole rug needs to be back beaten.

Step Five: Test to See if the Rug Is Colourfast

This will test the stability of the dye against the cleaning agent you use on the rug.

To test for dye bleed; wet a towel with the cleaning agent and lay it flat on the face of the rug. Use a weight to weigh it down, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, remove the towel, and if there is no dye run on the microfibre, it means that the solution is safe to use on the rug.

Step Six: Wash The Rug
Mix the rug cleaning shampoo in a spray bottle according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spray the cleaning agent on the rug. This will only wet the fibres of the rug down to the pile’s base. We do not want to get the base cotton wet!

Note: Several YouTube videos show rug cleaning companies putting this type of rug into a rug bath. However, we do not fully submerge rugs during the general wash process. Unless it is absolutely necessary, such as if the rug has urine contamination.

The base warp and weft are cotton, with wool woven into them. Cotton absorbs 100% of its weight in water. This means that when you submerge the rug, the cotton that is the foundation of the structure expands completely. Excessive moisture can stretch or shrink natural fibres, potentially damaging the rug.

Step Seven: Agitate the Cleaning Solution
Agitate the rug’s fibres to loosen the embedded dirt. We use a Pro 35 CRB machine to brush and agitate the fibres.

Step Eight: Extract and Rinse
We use a "Sapphire Scientific Hand Tool" set to 100 psi to extract the cleaning solution from the rug. In addition to the "Triple Vac" machine for moisture extraction.

We also use a small amount of acid rinse in the tank. This adjusts the pH to 6.5pH. This is primarily used to rinse out detergent residue from the rug. As well as neutralising the alkaline components of the cleaning compound.

Note: This process removes about 95% of the moisture, leaving the rug slightly damp but not soaked.

Step Nine: Test and Repeat as Needed
Test for the transfer of soil, and if necessary, repeat steps 6 to 8.

Step Ten: Clean the Fringe
Mix the rug shampoo with hot water and add a small amount of peroxide to boost the cleaning power. Apply the solution to the fringes with a soft bristle brush and then extract the excess water with the “Sapphire Scientific Hand Tool.”

Note: Dirt on the rug's fringe can be difficult to remove. This way works best for us. We do not like using fringe bleach because cotton is a cellulose fibre that will be damaged if bleach is used on it.

Step Eleven: Groom the Rug
Use a grooming brush to rake the carpet pile to make sure it is nice and even before drying.

Step Twelve: Dry Thoroughly
Hang the rug to dry on a drying rack. We use a turbo drying rack, which takes about 15 minutes. When the front of the rug feels dry, check the back to ensure the area is completely dry.

Conclusion

Cleaning oriental rugs properly extends their life, vibrancy, and beauty. The thing to remember is that they need to be cleaned differently than regular rugs. For us, it is not just a matter of throwing the rug into a rug pit. We adhere to the highest industry standards to ensure the rug's integrity. The process was lengthy and exhausting, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

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