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Oriental Treasures

Whether you’re a collector of fine Orientals or your Aunt Edna’s old Persian rug is rolled up in the corner of your garage, I think you’ll find this column of interest. Orientals require more care and routine maintenance than wall-to-wall carpeting and of course, they’re often irreplaceable.

If you own an Oriental, the broad term given to hand-made rugs created somewhere on the other side of the globe, you possess a fine work of art. Crafted with centuries-old techniques and remarkably intricate patterns, these treasures come from China, Persia, Turkey, and the Baltics. Many Persian rugs are named after the town where they were created and usually bear a unique regional design. Rugs made in India or Pakistan are usually a small step down in quality and price but still require special care to prolong their life. And I’d better include American-made Navajo rugs here too because they’re constructed using similar methods and materials and also require special cleaning procedures.

By the way, if you’re an Oriental or Navajo owner, be sure to find out how much your rugs are worth. My wife Lori and I inherited a few old rugs and recently decided to have them appraised. Let’s just say we now have a much greater appreciation for our relatives. If you’d like to know your rug’s value and want an honest appraisal, give us a call and we can recommend a good appraiser.

Take Care of Your Treasure
When it comes to cleaning and care of Orientals, there are many significant things to consider but the most important is fiber type. Most are made of wool but some are silk or cotton and a few are camel or goat hair! Each required a different dying process and every dye responds differently to cleaning. One fiber we watch out for is faux silk, which is actually rayon, a wood pulp derivative. It takes dyes poorly and tends to bleed badly when cleaned using conventional methods. Real silk rugs are very durable and retain their beauty after cleaning.

I know you’ve read it here before but regular vacuuming will dramatically prolong the life of any rug. Weekly vacuuming with a good quality upright (one with a beater bar and plenty of suction) is a must. Do the heavy traffic areas more often. Maybe you remember this tip I offered a few months back: take your rug into the garage or out on the patio, turn it upside down and vacuum the back. The vibration of the beater bar will shake embedded dirt down to the floor. Sweep up the dirt and repeat the process until it stops falling out. It’s impossible to remove this deep down dirt with top-vacuuming only. We use a version of this process every day on the rugs we clean in our plant so we know it works like a charm.

Moths Eat More Than Sweaters
Wool Orientals are especially susceptible to moths who like to lay their eggs in dark, undisturbed areas. One favorite spot is under heavy, seldom-moved furniture. You can’t imagine how many times we’ve found moth holes in neglected areas of a fine Oriental, so be sure to vacuum these areas at least two to four times a year.

When Fringe is Not a Benefit
Fringe damage is another problem for Orientals and unfortunately, incorrect vacuuming is the culprit. It’s usually caused by standing on the rug while vacuuming and pulling the fringe back over the rug with the vacuum, tearing it in the process. Your best bet is to avoid vacuuming the fringe altogether. If your vacuuming is done by housekeepers, please recommend that they lightly brush the fringe with a broom.

Spot Removal
Immediate action always produces the best results. First, using light pressure, scrape off any solid material or blot up liquid with a soft terry-cloth or paper towel. Wool rugs are sensitive to strong cleaners so use a spray bottle of warm water mixed with one teaspoon of dish detergent (Ivory) to wet the spot. Then, scrub in the direction of the nap with your fingertips or a soft brush. Using a mixture of two tablespoons of white vinegar in 12 ounces of clean water, spray and blot the area several times. This will flush out the stain along with the detergent. Cats and dogs don’t seem to appreciate an Oriental’s value and beauty—urine stains can be impossible to remove—so please let your pets know where to go. When in doubt, call us immediately.

If taking care of your Oriental treasure sounds like too much work, let us put you on a yearly maintenance program that includes cleaning, moth treatment and applying a protectant. We’ve successfully cleaned thousands of Orientals over the years and we’d be happy to add yours to our list.