Can You Steam Clean Oriental Rugs?

Like any other carpeting, Oriental rugs need regular cleaning and maintenance to look their best. But can you steam-clean Oriental rugs?

This is one of the most common questions we’ve received about rug cleaning. And it leads to other questions. If you can steam clean them, what is the best way to do it? And if not, what is the appropriate way to clean these rugs? Is spot cleaning an option?

We answer all these questions about steam cleaning Oriental rugs and more, in this rug care guide. We also recommend the best detergents and stain removers that are safe for use on Oriental rugs. So keep reading, and you’ll soon be cleaning your rugs like an expert.

What this article covers:

Can You Steam Clean an Oriental Rug?

can you steam clean an oriental rug

The short answer is yes, sometimes you can steam clean an Oriental rug, but you probably shouldn’t. At the end of the day, steam is produced from hot water. When cleaning Oriental rugs, it is best to avoid getting them too wet for too long. 

Older more delicate rugs are especially at risk of damage from over-saturation. Wool rugs are best cleaned with as little water as possible, and with cold water when necessary. Hot water can cause shrinkage of wool products like Oriental rugs. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions. These can usually be found on a label on the back.

So when your Oriental rug is made of wool, (and most are) be as gentle as you would be when you clean a Moroccan rug. Wool-friendly detergents used with cold water are the best method for cleaning all wool oriental rugs.

Recommended Cleaning of Oriental Rugs

To avoid having to expose your rug to too much water too often, rather use a vacuum (or shake it outdoors). This will remove trapped dust and debris, and freshen your rug. Aim to vacuum it at least once a week. But don’t use carpet fluffer or any turbo settings.

Spot cleaning of stains is usually adequate to keep your rug looking good for some time. But when it starts to look dirty and only a water-based cleaning will do,  use detergents suitable for wool. Our RSF Cotton and Linen Shampoo are safe for all-natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool.

 can you steam clean a persian rug

Can You Steam Clean a Persian Rug?

Once again, you can, but unless you have the experience you probably shouldn’t. Like most Oriental carpets, Persian rugs are usually made of pure wool. Always check that the service you use has expertise with Persian rugs. But how do professionals clean oriental rugs like Persian rugs?

Usually, they will spot-treat any stains with specialized stain removers. Then, they either wash the rug with a special solution or dry-clean it using a perchloroethylene solvent. Some professional cleaners do use steam, but they are well-versed in the careful treatment of wool fibers.

Proper Cleaning of Persian Rugs

Steaming not only risks damage to the wool but also isn’t always sufficient for cleaning a Persian rug all the way through. So, how do you clean a Persian carpet when you can’t steam it? Take it to the professionals, or follow our expert advice and use our specialized detergents.

We have several products tailor-made for natural fibers including wool. And some of our carpet chemicals are suitable for both synthetic and natural fibers. One of our top detergents that is safe for wool rugs is Formula 99 Empowered Rinse. It cuts through dirt, even on stain-resistance trade carpets. Best of all, it works with cold water, too.

steam clean persian rug

How Should You (Steam) Clean an Oriental Rug?

One of the simplest ways to keep your Oriental rug clean and fresh is to regularly vacuum it, and spot-clean using professional carpet chemicals when necessary. A steam clean once a year can give your rug a deep clean that also kills any trapped bacteria. It also freshens the rug and dissipates musty odors.

can you steam clean persian rugs 

But, we don’t recommend that you steam clean certain Oriental rugs. If you are unsure, always check the care instructions on your rug’s label underneath. Alternatively, contact the manufacturer and ask for their recommendation.

You should also keep in mind that some rugs that look like traditional Oriental rugs are, in fact, synthetic or a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. Certain synthetic fibers are also prone to heat damage, but not water damage. 

So steaming, if done correctly, may be possible when cleaning a Karastan rug. But first, check what your rug is made of.

Tips for Safer Steaming

If you do decide to steam your Oriental rug, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Don’t use the highest setting. Some steamer units have different settings. Choose the gentlest one.
  • Don’t hover in one place for too long. Doing so increases the risk of weakening or damaging the wool fibers. Move the steamer attachment around.
  • Stay a safe distance from the rug’s surface. Avoid holding the steamer attachment right against the rug for longer than a second or two. If you hold it too close for too long, your rug will become oversaturated.
  • Use a wool-friendly detergent. If you are using a detergent with your steamer, ensure that it is safe for use on wool.
  • Don’t leave the rug wet. This will cause issues like a wet sheep smell at best, and mildew at worst.
  • Only use the natural drying method. Leave your rug to dry in a well-ventilated area, preferably on a covered patio. If this is not possible, leave windows open until the rug is dry. Don’t ever use artificial heat sources to dry your rug.

What Else Is Steaming a Rug Good for?

steaming clean oriental rugs

When you remove furniture dents from Berber carpet, carefully applied steam to the affected areas can help.

Use the prongs of a fork to (very carefully) lift the dented area’s fibers while applying after applying steam for a few seconds. But don’t hold the steamer unit too close, and don’t use excessive force.

It’s always best to avoid placing very heavy furniture on Oriental rugs.


Steaming is not only great for cleaning, sanitizing, and freshening rugs. It can also be used to restore them to their optimal springiness. 

But while steam cleaning may seem like the answer when cleaning Oriental rugs, it is not always the best choice. To be certain that your rug comes out clean and fresh without damage, follow our tips above and use wool-friendly cleaning products only.

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