Oriental rugs encompass a wide range of beautiful Asian rugs. They’re characterized by deep color, intricate patterns, and a reputation for being notoriously hard to clean.
Of course, it’s understandable. With so many dyes and different fibers, these gentle beauties can feel impossible to clean without causing damage. Lucky for you, we know just what to do.
Use this guide on how to clean oriental rugs to safely clean your rug and remove stains. We’ll also show you how to clean your Turkish rug and offer some helpful advice on managing the health of these delicate and expensive rugs.
What this article covers:
How To Clean An Oriental Rug
First, we’ll show you how to clean an oriental rug. Because of all the different dyes, it’s important to be super gentle during the cleaning process. The method we’re using here can be used to clean Persian rugs, clean Karastan rugs, and clean kilim rugs.
Step 1: Shake Out Your Rug
The first step to cleaning your oriental rug is to remove as much debris and dust from the rug as possible. Because rugs are stationary and aren’t cleaned often, they hold onto a lot of dust and dirt.
Take your rug outside, making sure to fold the corners inward. Otherwise, the dust will spill from the rug into your home. If it’s a very big rug, enlist the help of a friend or family member to carry it outside.
Take the rug outside and flip it so that all the dirt can drop from the rug. Shake it and pat it with your hand until most of the dust is gone. If there is still a bit left, that’s fine. We’ll get rid of it with the next step.
When you get back into your home, quickly sweep the dirt from the rug's previous resting place and clean up the ground before returning it. Or, if you have outdoor space, you can clean the rug outside.
If you don’t clean this first, the water and cleaning solution will only activate the dirt and could lead to serious mud stains. This step is also extremely important for rugs with fringe or braids and should be used when cleaning braided wool rugs too.
Step 2: Vacuum The Rug
Next, we’ll remove the rest of the rug debris. The best way to do this is with a vacuum. Just turn your vacuum on and run it horizontally and vertically along your rug.
Don’t use the highest setting or one that could damage your rug. Just like how we gently clean cotton rugs, we want to softly clean the oriental rug.
If you have fringe or a higher pile count, make sure to separate the fibers and get into all the little nooks and crannies. Take your time with this step and get as much of the loose dirt from the rug. We don’t want to activate it with the cleaning solution.
Step 3: Mix The Cleaning Solution
Now that the rug is free from debris and ready to be cleaned, it’s time to mix the cleaning solution.
It’s important to use gentle cleaning supplies with oriental rugs. Any harsh chemicals could cause serious damage to the rug fibers and the rug pad or they could bleach the rug.
Your first option is a heavily diluted home cleaning solution. Add cold water in a small bucket and add a small amount of mild dish soap. Any drugstore liquid soap will work as long as there is no ammonia in the solution. Mix the cold water and dish soap until it reaches your desired level of sudsy.
Or you can use professional rug cleaning chemicals that are specially formulated to deep clean oriental rugs without causing any damage.
Rug Smack is a rug pre-spray specifically formulated with a neutral pH. It is powerful and gentle and works wonders on synthetic and natural rug fibers. Rug Smack makes for a great oriental rug cleaner and is so safe you can even use it to clean Navajo rugs.
You are also more than welcome to use a store-bought cleaning solution. Just make sure there is no ammonia in the solution and that it has a neutral pH.
Step 4: Test The Cleaning Solution
After you have mixed the cleaning solution per the instructions on the bottle or made a DIY cleaning solution, it’s time to spot-test the solution on your oriental rug.
It’s important not to skip this step as cleaners might react wildly to the dye on your rug. It could cause the colors to bleed or fade, or damage your rug by burning it.
Take your solution and apply a small bit to a corner of your rug. Leave it one for about 20 minutes or as long as the cleaning solution instructions tell you and then thoroughly rinse it. If there was no bleeding or fading, then you can move on to the next step.
If there was damage, either dilute the solution or use a different one. Make sure to test the new solution as well.
Step 5: Apply The Cleaning Solution
It’s finally time to clean your oriental rug. Work in small sections on your rug. Apply the cleaning solution to your rug and clean the section with a soft bristle brush or a gentle sponge.
Never scrub the rug. The fibers are fragile and could be severely damaged. Always use gentle motions and clean with the direction of the rug pile and never against it.
When you are done with one section, move on to the next and repeat the process until the rug is completely clean.
Step 6: Clean The Rug Fringe
If your rug has fringe, now is the time to clean them. Gently brush the fringe with a soft bristle brush before applying the cleaning solution. Brush the fringe with the cleaning solution, making sure to get all the grime from between the pile, before moving on to the next step.
Step 7: Rinse The Rug
It’s finally time to rinse your oriental rug. If you have outdoor space, take the rug outside and hose it off gently with cold water. Make sure you get rid of all of the soap as any that stays behind could damage the rug.
If you can’t take the rug outside, spray it down with water and squeeze the excess out with a squeegee. Repeat this until the subs are gone and the water is running clear.
Step 8: Dry The Rug
Finally, it’s time to let your rug dry. You can use a water extraction vacuum or you can apply absorbent materials on the rug. Press it down, soak up the water, and repeat as needed. Do this until the rug is as dry as possible.
Be thorough. Because of the densely packed rug fibers, oriental rugs are breeding grounds for mold. Make sure you remove as much of the water as possible and let it dry in a well-ventilated area.
If the rug is not clean to your liking or some stains remain, you can try steam cleaning the oriental rug or using professional oriental rug cleaning solutions.
How To Clean A Turkish Rug
Next, we’ll show you how to clean a Turkish rug. This gentle method can also be used to clean Moroccan rugs.
Step 1: Shake Out The Rug
As before, the first step is to shake out your rug. Enlist the help of a third party to pick up your rug - make sure to fold the edges inward - and take it outside. Unfold the edges and gently beat the rug with your hands to expel the dust and grime.
Do this for a few minutes or until most of the loose dirt has been removed.
Step 2: Vacuum The Rug
Next, vacuum the rug. This will remove the dirt that was not dislodged with the shaking and will prevent a difficult, muddy mess.
Take your vacuum and turn it on to a medium setting. Don’t put it on high because this can damage the rug fibers. Vacuum horizontally and then vertically, making sure to remove as much of the debris as possible.
If you have a high rug pile, get into the nooks and crannies before moving on.
Step 3: Mix The Cleaning Solution
It’s finally time to mix a cleaning solution. You can use a store-bought cleaning solution or our professional rug pre-spray. You can also create a dilute mixture of a gentle detergent with cold water.
Whichever method you choose, make sure the mixture does not contain ammonia and has a neutral pH.
Step 4: Test The Cleaning Solution
Apply some of the cleaning solutions to a corner of your Turkish rug and leave it on for at least 20 minutes. If the bottle has different timing instructions, follow those.
When the time is up, remove the cleaning solution and check the test spot for faded colors or any sort of rug damage. If there is rug damage, dilute the solution more or get a new cleaning chemical before trying again. Only move on when you find a safe option.
Step 5: Clean The Rug
Wash your rug in small sections. Take a soft bristle brush or a gentle sponge, soak up some cleaning solution, and gently wash the rug section. Never scrub the rug and clean it in the same direction as the fibers lay.
Repeat this all over the rug until it’s clean.
Step 6: Rinse The Rug
It’s time to rinse your rug. Take the rug outside and rinse it with cold water. Or, if you don’t have any outside area, spray water onto the rug and squeeze out the excess water with a squeegee. Repeat this until the water runs clear and there are no more suds.
Step 7: Dry The Rug
When the rug is fully rinsed, remove the water to avoid mold. Keep the rug in a well-ventilated room and soak up the water with a sponge or a water extraction vacuum. Repeat until the rug is as dry as possible. If you have the space, hang up the rug to dry.
How To Maintain Your Oriental Rugs
With oriental rugs and Turkish rugs, the best way to clean them is to maintain them in the long run.
To maintain your oriental and Turkish rugs,
- Vacuum: Vacuum your oriental or Turkish rug once a week. Make sure to use a gentle setting.
- Sunlight: Keep your rugs away from windows or direct sunlight. It can fade the rug dye and damage the rug fibers.
- Shoes: Don’t walk on your rugs with shoes. Rather put the rug somewhere in your home that doesn’t regularly see heavy traffic.
- Dust: If you can, keep your rug away from the front door or big open windows. These areas see a lot of dust and debris that will quickly dirty the rug again.
Following these easy steps and staying consistent with them will leave your rug looking great and feeling fresh for much, much longer.
Cleaning your oriental or Turkish rug has never been easier. With this guide, you can safely clean your rug until it looks as good as the day you bought it. Our helpful tips will also help you maintain your rug’s clean and fresh feeling for much longer than before.
For more cleaning help or professional rug cleaning tools, shop with TruckMountForums and enjoy your rugs and rugs like never before.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking other guides:
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