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How to Clean Fine Rugs

When we lived in Denver, a girlfriend used to take her rugs to Robert Mann Oriental Rugs for cleaning. She had a fine antique rug and a few high quality woolen pieces that she'd clean about every 6 months, owing to her son's severe asthma. The price seemed fairly reasonable. My (very quality conscious) friend informed me that Robert Mann's was the best place in town for expert rug repair and cleaning--with no harsh chemicals.

When Curt and I invested in a good quality wool rug (above, under the dog), I took it to Robert Mann for cleaning once, and observed the process:


1. A worker ROLLED OUT a rug on a concrete floor with a drain.
2. He HOSED IT DOWN WITH WATER from a garden hose,
3. SQUIRTED LIQUID SOAP onto it, and
4. SCRUBBED every inch with a PUSH BROOM. After a thorough scrubbing
5. and a good RINSE,
6. the rug was LAID OUTSIDE TO DRY.

I was told they use dishwashing liquid from the grocery store--no particular brand.

"No!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," they said.

"So you scrub the rugs with dishwashing liquid and a push broom and that's ALL?"

"We wash the finest rugs this way, cotton or wool, unless they're extremely fragile. You can do this yourself on your driveway."

"I should put something under the rug to protect it from the driveway, right?" I asked.

"No, put it right on the driveway--but not on any oil spots! Also, test for color fastness before you wash your rug. Place it in the grass to dry."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

I learned something that day! We don't have wall-to-wall carpet, so we have a lot of rugs that need to be washed from time to time. When spot cleaning isn't enough, I take the entire piece outside for a good scrub down, confident that I am not ruining it. No harsh chemicals, no special tools needed--just liquid soap and some elbow grease!

(If you google "Robert Man Oriental Rugs" and you will see that he is well regarded in his field for cleaning, conservation, and restoration of oriental rugs.)

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
YES! My brother-in-law owns a large oriental rug store, and this is the exact method they have used for decades! It also helps if your driveway slopes, and you have a sunny, dry day. So simple!
Sep. 26th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Yay! It's refreshing not to HAVE to pay a professional if you don't want to sometimes.
Sep. 26th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
Do you just leave it in the sun to dry? Won't the sun fade it pretty fast?
Sep. 27th, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! Re: the sun, use your own judgement. In Denver, the air is so dry that clothes dry on the line in a matter of a few minutes--no exaggeration. If you only give your rug a good scrubbing once a year or less, then the fading might not be an issue. If you do it more often than that and you are concerned about the sun, dry the rug in the shade.

Sep. 27th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
Too funny!!
That's the way I've cleaned my rugs for years thinking when I could afford it I'd take them in for 'professional' cleaning. Thank you for dispelling my mental myth!!
Sep. 27th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
I cleaned 2 large oriental rugs on a concrete slab in my back yard last summer with dishwashing soap, water and a push broom.
Unfortunately I do not have a slope to my slab so it took a while for them to dry because the water kept slowly drifting back to my rugs after pushing the water away. If the water doesn't drain away, use caution. Anyway, it worked, but it did take lots of spraying with a jet nozzle to get all the soap out. Note: It takes very little little soap!
Sep. 27th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
cleaning rugs
I have cleaned my oriental rugs for years. when first married they were the hook rugs. I would do them every spring and fall. Now I have a wonderful collection of the finer rugs.
just mix the carpet cleaner in a bucket and take my scrub brush to any soiled areas and the rest used a sponge. I never soaked the rug just did this on my wonderful hardwood floors. I guess just damp cleaned.
I actually enjoy this. But then I am a mother and grandmother and one of those that loves to keep house.
Dec. 28th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Master Weaver
It is important to dry the rug in a i shape. If dry flat it can open the internal foundation (warps and wefts) of the rug. sometimes it is worth spending a little but more to get the best cleaning for your rugs.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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