Special note: Certain rugs should not be folded. Those include machine made, hand tufted rug and SELECT hand knotted rugs with dry rot or stiff construction. Prior to folding the rug, check your carpet for any dry rot or areas not easy to fold. As you fold, listen for cracking or popping - if you hear this, STOP IMMEDIATELY.
For a guide on how to fold and roll certain sizes, see the bottom of this post.
If you plan to store your rug, first you should have the rug hand washed at your local reputable oriental rug washing plant (don't use the home cleaning services). If the carpet is not clean prior to storage, it will be far more susceptible to moth infestation.
For purposes of storage, the less you fold the rug the better. Long term storage in a folded manner may take time to settle out as temporary creases often occur. Although these creases will come out through the use of your rug, if you ever want to open the rug for a last minute event you may be at a loss! There are instances where folding can damage your rug: never fold a rug unless you are extremely attentive to it's condition. Older and stiffer rugs are significantly more susceptible to cracking or damage. Be careful!
Optimal storage temperature for carpets is between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit, 7-24 degree Celsius in a non-humid environment.
For purposes of long term storage, always roll the rug with the direction of the pile. This will result in a looser roll, however will protect the pile from crushing in the long term.
For purposes of quick transportation/shipping, roll the rug against the direction of the pile. This results in a tighter roll, allowing for a smaller a final size.
If you plan to ship the rug, standard carriers have different limitations on both weight and size of the packages they ship. Some carriers may offer a discount, depending on how the rug is folded. Try folding the rug several ways and giving all dimensions to your carrier. Pertinent information includes length, width, height and/or diameter. They may ask you to add or combine any number of these dimensions. Remember to add a couple inches to each to compensate for padding and final wrapping material. Also get the weight of the rug (most rugs are around 3/4 lbs. per square foot). Three ways of making your rug compact are: folding it in half down the length once and rolling or folding it in thirds and rolling it or rolling it straight.
Folding and Rolling
The rug below shows how you may fold the rug for either shipping or storage. We show how to fold in thirds. You may find that folding in half or a straight roll may be suitable for your needs.
Fold the rug just under one third. Be sure it is under one third as the other portion will be folded back over the initial fold. If they overlap, the inside may begin to roll on itself, which causes more stress in storage.
Bring the other one third portion back over the initial fold.
As seen below, each of the ends have been folded back toward the middle of the rug. If you begin rolling without folding, the opposite end will open, therefore making the final roll wider and inconsistent in width. Be sure to leave at least several feet between the two ends to ensure a good roll. A tip: while folding - try to note where the rug wants to fall naturally. Let it do so, and continue.
Wrapping up your rug
Whether for storage or shipping, be sure to wrap your rug safely and securely. Use heavy gauge plastic or Tyvek to wrap your rug. For shipping, put some extra padding on the ends of the rug (don't use newspaper which bleeds when wet) as rugs can be dragged a lot in transport. It's a good idea to tape all openings shut so the package is semi- waterproof. However, when in storage, the rug needs to breathe. Throw some standard non-colored moth crystals on the rug or inside the roll. You will also need to check on your carpet once every year to vacuum and or to replace moth flakes. If you're shipping the rug, do not pack it in clear plastic alone. Ship the rug with opaque material.
Rug Measurements and suggested Rolling Technique (Standard 1/4 inch to 7/8 inch thick rugs)
Rectangles & Ovals less than 6 feet wide: ROLL*
Rectangles & Ovals Between 6 and 9 feet wide: FOLD IN HALF AND ROLL*
Rectangles & Ovals Between 10 and 12 feet wide: FOLD IN THIRDS AND ROLL*
Square and Round Rugs 7 feet and less: ROLL*
Square and Round Rugs between 8 and 11 feet: FOLD IN HALF AND ROLL*
Square and Round Rugs between 11 and 14 feet: FOLD IN THIRDS AND ROLL*
*See above storage/shipping for direction to roll or fold and roll carpets