Oriental rug cleaning doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming with these easy ways to keep your valuable rug looking fresh and new. Even if your rug is worn from high traffic or stained from spills, you can get your rug clean fast with these expert tips.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm John Maher and I'm here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hi, John.
When to Have Your Oriental Rug Cleaned
John: Sam, today our topic is Oriental rug cleaning. Sam, what is the proper amount of time before I take an oriental rug to be cleaned?
Sam: I think everybody thinks there has to be a certain timeframe to everything. I'm not a big believer in that. I don't there really has to be a certain rule. Wetherby suggests the industry has an an average of three to five years for [how long] people usually [wait] as far as before they clean. It depends on usage. If you have a rug that's not being used, [for example], it's in the dining room that you maybe use two or three times a year.
John: Right, your formal dining room that you only use on Thanksgiving.
Sam: Yeah, remember that? It's like you wonder, "Why do we have this?" In that case, you could go 20 years without cleaning [your rug]. That would be fine. I'm not big believer in over cleaning anything. Rugs, especially wool rugs have the ability of ‑‑ if you sweep them regularly ‑‑ to release all those soils and all the different pollens, different things that can get into it, dander or whatever from the dog or cat. It will come right out with a good sweeping. I don't think you really need to clean unless it's really getting dirty day or stained or something like that. Then there are certain rugs maybe in the kitchen or in a rec room or where you live in it and you've got lots of kids and dogs and cats and got all that going on and the neighbor's always over. I would say, "Yeah, you can probably clean that every year." Every rug's a different situation.
How to Clean an Oriental Rug
John: What's the difference in cleaning on site in a truckmount than it is to bring it into a wash plant?
Sam: That really hurt me when I see somebody cleaning their rug and they tell me they cleaned a rug by one of the local truckmount firms.
John: What did they do? They just drive a truck up to the house and they grab the rug and hang it up on the truck and wash it right there in front of your house?
Sam: They don't. They do it right on the floor like they do the rest of your carpeting. It seems crazy to me. They treat the rug like a piece of carpeting. There are different types of fiber used in rug, so if you're not adapting your wash and your temperatures, and your pH levels to what you're cleaning, you're not going to be able to clean it properly. You could do some harm to it as well. The first important thing that comes in mind, is what we do with a rug. We dust it. Which means we take it, turn it over. We have a machine that beats it. It's like taking a belt to the back of the rug. You are just beating like the old days, dusting your rug on a line or whatever, trying to get the dirt out for you before you clean it. Because you can imagine you're using one of those wands with partial washers, steam extraction. You are just pushing that hot water, that mix dirt into the back of the rug and basically in long term, that dirt's going to fill up into the back of the rug and get clogged in there. You are not going to get it out. It's going to create a dry rot or a stiff back into a rug long term if you don't get that dirt out of there first. First thing is to take as much as dirt as you can before you do clean it. That's not going to be addressed in a $99 clean-your-whole-house type of operation. They're just not going to be as skilled as with old textiles and wools and if you have a viscose rug, God forbid.
John: What is a wash plant?
Sam: A wash plant is somewhere you take [the rug] outside and you would drop it off to a place who actually washes rugs by hand or water machine. A machine that's made for cleaning hairy rugs. When you are in a situation like that, you are going to dust it first. Then you are going to clean it. Then you are going to dry the proper front and back so you get it dry in front and back. You're going to address the fringe if it's got soil or stains or it's unsightly. You are going to use different types of bleaching agents that you can use in order to whiten that fringe and remove some of that swirling and spotting. One thing in the clean operation, if you decide you're not happy with it, you'll go back and re‑clean it, or spot clean it. Or you'll send it back and go one more time. We do that all the time if we think we can get it better, or that [spot] didn't come out. We did clean it, you saw things that you didn't see when it was dirty. A washing person is going to charge more, but after a good company, they're going to do a great job. You're going to get the best cleaning possibility for that rug.
Oriental Rug Cleaning Expertise
John: Would you say that expertise really matters when it comes to Oriental rug cleaning?
Sam: Oh my God, yes. I just touched on that and we talked about different kind of fibers that are out today that weren't used in rugs ever before. You've got to know fiber and you've got to know chemicals. It definitely takes an expert to identify. If you got a bleeding rug, a lot of people don't know what that is. You've got an over dye situation if you have dark colors and you put water to it. That color just goes off and it will bleed right into the color next to it and you will have a change of color in that rug.
Cleaning an Oriental Rug at Home
John: What about just some spot cleaning at home if I accidently spill something on my oriental rug. Do you have any tips for doing spot cleaning myself?
Sam: I do and I use my old grandmother's recipe. This is one that I have been passing over for 40 years and it works wonders and I use it myself. I basically keep it already mixed up in an old orange juice Tupperware container underneath my sink. So when I need it, I just pop it out, shake it up then use it. It's a teaspoon of detergent, like you would use for kids cloths. It has a nice pH like Tide and Ivory, Dreft, something like that. I'm not a big fan of these liquid concentrated. I don't know what that formula would be, but that's a different type of cleaning product than what I'm used to. I don't recommend them, may be you could, but I'm not a big fan of it. But definitely use a detergent or something you use with your clothes. Something that your pal uses on an infant's clothes or a child's clothes would be preferable. Then add a teaspoon of white vinegar and a quarter of lukewarm water, just tap water. Just shake it up and use the suds from that solution.
Pretreating an Oriental Rug to Protect It
John: Can you fabric treat high quality rugs with something like Scotch Guard?
Sam: I'm a big believer in that and I think in the days where if you want to buy nice things and not have to worry about them, it really helps us. Not like its permanent or something can't penetrate it, but it will definitely restrict it and take it longer to stain it or to come into the fiber. I'm a big believer in Scotch Guard Fiber‑Seal or whatever you want to call it.
John: Is that something you can do yourself or do you need to bring the rug somewhere to have that done?
Sam: Again, I have never done it myself with the products that are out there in the market place. I would imagine you could, but there's a fine line there and again that's where the expertise comes in there. How much is enough? Lucky you will get crazy with it and then it cakes up, it gets thick and fiber starts matting together. You just want to lightly dust it and then let the fiber absorb the tips of it. I would say you can, but be careful. I would really leave it up to an expert if you can.
Cleaning Certain Types of Oriental Rug Materials
John: What's your advice on cleaning faux type silk like bamboo or viscose?
Sam: That's definitely go to an expert. [Different rug materials can be] a very dangerous situation and I see a lot of cleaning operation and rug operations that don't really know about this fiber. It's relatively a new fiber and it looks like silk. In fact, it looks better than silk. It is shiny, gorgeous. You touch it, it's so soft. You just got to have this fiber. It just looks so fantastic. But it's a very soft fiber. It doesn't perform. A lot of people hear the word bamboo and I think something strong is a piece of bamboo or like wood, or something like that. But it's not, it is just made from cellulose which is the fiber ground up from bamboo and then extruded into fiber and it has that nice silk look and feel. It doesn't have the properties of a bamboo. It really has properties of what paper would be. We all know if you leave a paper out in the rain, what happens to it, you can't unply it. Definitely, it's a very delicate stuff. There are lots that can happen with that. I would definitely be very careful if you own one that you give it to somebody and ask him that they know what it is or hopefully you know what it is. For us here at our store, we actually make people sign off a waiver. We know what it is but we know all the things that could go wrong with it and we are very careful, but still it's very, very much a challenge.
John: It sounds like the bamboo or viscose fibers can not only stain easier but be much harder to wash as well.
Sam: They are. They are very difficult to wash. How you wash them? How you dry them? How you brush them? It never really looks like the rug you bought originally, unfortunately. That's what most people get concerned about is they spend a lot of money cleaning it then it just never looks like the original piece that they had.
Oriental Rug Cleaning Costs
John: How much does rug cleaning cost in general?
Sam: It's all over the board depending on where you go. I've talked a lot of people in the industry. I would say if you have a machine‑made rug, that's a different price than a handmade rug. If you have something like viscose rug, that could be twice as much as regular cleaning because it's difficult to clean and there's a lot more hand working with it. Do you hand‑clean? Do you do it through a machine? So many different things can influence the price. Here in our local market, the range goes from about $2 to about $4 a square foot, depending on where you go to and what contact mix they use.
John: Is pickup and delivery typically included in the cost?
Sam: Usually in our marketplace. I'm not sure in a big metropolitan area like where you live, John, in Boston. It might be more challenging to offer that, but that's the part of the service as far as the price. Sometimes people may be charge less, but then they charge for pickup and delivery. We just charge a really minimal fee, but we'll come in and roll up your rug, move your furniture, put it back down before you adjust your pad, move the furniture back. We'll do all those little things. We have a little charge for it but it's minimal compared to what we do.
John: That's really great information on rug cleaning, Sam. Thanks very much for speaking with me today.
Sam: You're welcome, John. My pleasure. Thank you.
John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets visit ruggallerycincy.com, that's Rug Gallery C‑I‑N‑C‑Y dot com. Or call 513‑793‑9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes and if you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, we'd appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.