Oriental rugs are handmade and unique, which is why the art of cleaning them is so important to get right. While most forms of cleaning will age the materials of the rug, wearing them down which in time causes the colors to fade. An oriental rug must be cleaned when needed to prevent the trapped dirt and debris from causing even more damage.
The key is finding the right method that cleans the rug properly while causing a minimal amount of wear and tear. The method that many oriental rug owners use is the handwash process which cleans the rug with a minimum of wear.
Why Handwash Instead of Machine Wash?
There are good reasons why handwashing is generally considered the best method. This is not only because it has been performed for hundreds of years, but there are other considerations as well.
Handwashing allows for the rug to be cleaned in terms of how much dirt and debris have built up in the fibers. This means that each rug is individually treated, so that it can be cleaned with a minimal amount of wear or damage. Some of the factors that go into hand cleaning a rug include the following;
- Rug Type
- Age of Rug
- Overall Condition
A rug is assessed to determine how the handwashing will proceed. With professional rug cleaning companies, they will treat such rugs in the following manner;
- Wash One at a Time: Prevents mixing with other rugs
- Perform Dye Test: To ensure the colors do not run
- Water Temperature & pH Levels Checked: A formula for each rug is created
Handwashing includes fully immersing the rug in the water and cleaning solution for maximum effect. Because the rug is not mixed with other rugs, there is no transfer or dyes or colors which otherwise might affect your rug. Plus, the handwashing process allows for the rug to be fully cleaned and gently rinsed.
Afterwards, the rug is air dried which protects the fibers. While using fans to circulate the air does little harm to the rug, blowers that press against the rug may cause some damage, especially if heat is used as well.
Why Machine Washing is Not Good
You may find in your community rug cleaners who primarily use machines to wash rugs. This is understandable for many types of common rugs because machines can clean several at a time. However, for the cleaning of oriental rugs, you’ll want to avoid such methods.
Harsh Conditions: The inside of a typical machine that washes rugs can be quite brutal. A combination of contact with the machine parts and the chemicals that are used may do significant damage to the components of your rug. Even when no chemicals are used, the processes of the machine itself may be more than enough to damage the rug.
No Individual Care: Handwashing means that areas of the rug which may have greater wear will get a more delicate treatment compared to other, stronger parts of the rug. A machine cannot make the distinction between such areas, so it washes the rug the same from top to bottom. The result is a rug with greater wear and tear, especially in vulnerable places.
Dye Transfer: If one of the several rugs being cleaned at the same time bleeds out its colors, then it will be transferred to your rug. Since it is often difficult to impossible to know which rugs are vulnerable to losing their dyes, your rug may be stained because it is being washed together with other rugs.
It’s not surprising that even modern oriental rugs can be damaged with just one machine washing. An ancient rug might fall apart depending on its condition. That is why a handwashing approach is recommended.
You might ask why so many professional cleaning companies forego handwashing and use machines even though they may damage oriental rugs. The answer is one of economics, both in terms of time and expense. It is simply easier to toss a rug in with other rugs into a machine and press the start button. Washing just one rug at a time as opposed to ten means far fewer rugs are going to be cleaned.
Handwashing not only takes more time, it takes people who understand how to properly clean a rug which both protects the fibers while removing the dirt, stains, and debris. A good professional rug cleaning company will have both machine and handwashing areas available to separate the run-of-the-mill inexpensive rugs from oriental rugs that need special care.
Finding the Right Professional Cleaner for Your Oriental Rug
If you do not want to wash the rug yourself, then finding a good rug cleaner is the answer. When checking out professional cleaners in your community, you will need to use the following guidelines.
- Cleaning of Rugs by Hand
- Top Rated by Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Has National Certification
These are the minimum standards you should hold any professional cleaning company to when it comes to the care of your rug. Cleaning rugs by hand means that it does not come into contact with the metal parts of a machine and receives far less wear. An A+ rating from BBB means that they maintain high standards and offer excellent customer service. Plus, a national certification demonstrates that their cleaning services are recognized.
If you want your oriental rug cleaned properly using handwashing methods, then you should find the right professional company that does the job. It may be somewhat expensive, but a typical oriental rug only needs occasional cleaning if you take care of it properly.
It is true that handwashing is a more time-consuming and arguably more expensive process, but the results are well worth the efforts. Not only does the handwashing remove the dirt and debris, it also protects the rug fibers, so that it stays as strong and durable as before it was cleaned. For protecting oriental rugs during the cleaning process, you’ll want to use the handwash method which a proper professional company provides.