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How to Shampoo Your Oriental Rug in-Home

Before proceeding to the following instructions, be sure you understand the content herewith is for demonstration purposes only.  rugrag.com will not be held responsible or liable in any way for advise or actions taken by user.  Proceed at your own risk, especially if your rug has fiber other than unmercerized cotton and wool, or has a special treatment such as a tea wash or other.

Giving your Oriental Rug an in-home full shampoo wash is quite an advantageous proposition.  We highly suggest you seek out a local professional to give your carpet the best and most thorough washing process.  While there are several in home services you may use, we absolutely do not advocate the exercising of such: More often than not, this machinery may cause harm to your Oriental Rug, and will never thoroughly clean your carpet as needed.  This form of cleaning is really intended for fixed carpeting such as wall-to-wall. 

The following instructions are exclusively for wool oriental rugs.  For hand-tufted and/or carpets with silk/artificial silk content, please advise your local professional as to your rug washing needs.  Please read all instructions thoroughly prior to starting this project as you may not have the capacity to wash your carpet in home!  Always test an inconspicuous area of your carpet for colorfastness.  Remember, just because several colors are colorfast does not qualify all colors as colorfast.  Please be advised, we do not promote in home Oriental Rug washing, however do understand there will be many of you who desire to know your rug in a way in which most rug owners would not want to be familiar with.  The process of cleaning your Oriental Rug should be done so in a well ventilated area.  Although you will not necessarily be using harsh chemicals/additives, the amount of dirt and grit build-up over the years is enough to send almost anyone walking away sneezing.  Do not attempt the following when your carpet shows signs of water run on colorfastness test or is of light color.

Depending on the size of your Oriental Rug, you may find the following procedure is an all day event for a 9x12 rug.  Be sure to wait for a clear and sunny day with little to no humidity in the forecast.  Do not clean your carpet on or near grass.  Small carpets 2x3 you may want to consider cleaning in your bathtub, although you will need the majority of the tools as listed below.  Be sure your bathroom is well ventilated as the cleaning process releases a significant amount of allergens.

Tools/Area Necessary:

1: Traditional "Beater" Vacuum with a roller.  This is to be used in preference to an "air suction" vacuum.

2: Utilize an area at least 50% wider and 50% longer than your Oriental Rug.  Optimal space will be a driveway with slight slope to allow for run-off of water rather than "pooling".

3: Garden Host with long extendability.

4: Long stranded, wide commercial quality plastic bristle broom.  This will need to be okay getting wet as it will be used during the washing process.

5: Light/Mild liquid detergent such as Ivory, or better: unscented, environmentally safe liquid detergent.

6: Clean mixing bucket anywhere from 3-5 gallons. 

7: Squeegee:  This should be brand new, never used and point of contact should be made of rubber.  This is similar to what is used for cleaning windows: The wider the better.

8: large area to dry your carpet with several large fans.  Should you decide this area to be indoors, be prepared to lay down plastic to catch excess water which may drip to the floor.  A dry garage is a great place for this. 

9: Clean soled sandals or bare feet!

10: Plenty of towels, and possibly a large plastic tarp.

11: An assistant... be ready to owe a BIG favor!

 

Step One:

Flip your carpet face down onto your floor, and vacuum the reverse side with a "beater vacuum".  Go over the carpet several times, making sure the beater height is adjusted to an appropriate height- not too low as to slow the rotator to a stop, but not too high so the roller may not be making contact.  What you're doing here is literally beating as much dirt, grit and abrasives out from the base of the carpet as possible.  These agents will cause the most damage to your Oriental Rug long term.  It is imperative you go over the carpet several times, and SLOWLY.  You will know if you have done a good job, as when you fold the carpet over face up, you should see an abundant amount of rug dust and grit on your floor.

Step Two:

Sweep up any remaining dust and debris left on your floor from step one.  Vacuum the face of your carpet thoroughly.

Step Three:

Repeat Step one.

Step Four:

Get on your hands and knees to assess your Oriental Rug.  Should you see any stray fibers close to the edging/fringe, or potentially fragile areas, assess the endurance of such problems.  If it appears as though affected areas of wear may compromise the structural integrity of your carpet, it is probably in your best interest to seek the assistance of your local rug washing plant.  Carpets which are in dire need of a wash may also be in need of small repairs here and there.  Do not ignore such imperfections!  Should you qualify these problem areas as nominal, be sure at least to avoid them during the washing procedure.

Step Five:

Locate an area on your driveway which is free of automotive oil drops, dirt and debris.  It is best you choose an area where water will run-off rather than pool.  A shaded area is preferable, however not necessary.  Ideally, you would want to throw down a brand new tarp which has been pre-cleaned, however if a tarp is unavailable, take a hard bristled brush and thoroughly sweep an area significantly larger than the carpet you plan on washing.  Hose down the intended cleaning area with water and use your bristled brush and mild cleaning detergent such as liquid Ivory (odorless) to clean.  Repeat until run-off water is sufficiently clear, and all detergent has been washed away. 

Step Six:

Wash off bristle brush thoroughly to ensure no dirt or debris has stuck to it.

Step Seven:

Bring your Oriental Rug outside onto the cleaned area of your driveway.  Place the carpet face down, with reverse side to the sky.  Take note of the direction of the rug's pile.  Although the pile will be facing the pavement, you will want to soak your rug with water running in the same direction of the pile.  Take your garden hose (with COLD water) and both evenly and thoroughly, soak the entire carpet.  This may take several minutes.

Step Eight: 

Fill your your 3-5 gallon bucket all the way with water, then add your mild liquid detergent.  One tablespoon per two gallons of water should be sufficient, mix until sudsy, add additional detergent as you see fit.  

Step Nine:

While your assistant slowly pours your mixed water and detergent onto the reverse of the rug, agitate the reverse side of your carpet back and forth, side to side with the bristle broom.  Do not use a hard hand when going through this process.  You should be lightly moving the brush back and forth, making sure all bristles are making thorough, even contact with the reverse of the rug.  Continue this technique going left to right from the top of the rug to the bottom.  Replenish detergent/water solution as necessary, then repeat.

Step Ten:

Rinse the reverse side of your Oriental rug with pure cold water.  You may continue use of the brush to work out any excess detergent which may still exist in the rug.  Once all detergent has been released from the reverse of the rug with cold water, proceed to step 11.

Step Eleven:

Turn your carpet over as it would normally be presented with pile side face up.  Repeat steps eight to ten on the face of your carpet, working your brush ONLY WITH the direction of the carpet's pile.  DO NOT AGGITATE THE PILE in any direction: No back and forth movement, no "scrubbing".  Again, only move the brush with the pile direction.  Once you have completed steps eight through ten, repeat one additional time or as many times as needed.  Pay particularly close attention to the water quality of run-off water.  It should progressively become lighter and lighter.  You will know when you are done once the water is almost entirely clear.

Step Twelve:

Once you are certain all detergent has been thoroughly rinsed from your rug, you may go ahead and squeegee the carpet.  Only work with the pile direction.  Repeat until you have pulled as much water from the face of the rug as possible.  You are now ready to start with the drying process.  Take several towels, lay them down on the pile of the rug and walk on them until as much moisture as possible has been absorbed.  Fold the carpet up, and bring into an area where it may be draped or hung to dry full out (no creases).  If you do not have an area large enough to hang the carpet, it may be left to lay out flat for drying.  Be sure to check on it frequently.  It is best if as little of the rug as possible is contacting the ground: Both sides need to air equally and evenly.  Direct sunlight exposure is OK, however if there is any leftover detergent in the rug this could be quite harmful.  It is best to not leave your rug outdoors overnight.  If you have large fans ready to assist in the drying process, this should help out quite a bit.  Do not heating lamps or other auxiliary heating devices.  These may dry your carpet too quickly, resulting in uneven and possibly a wavy rug once dry.   

If after drying you notice areas of the pile seem stiff, don't be alarmed.  If the rug is 100% dry, you may rub your hand against these stiff areas to release them, or better yet, you may go ahead and vacuum the whole rug to release the seemingly caked fiber. 

Remember, it is always best to leave a professional job up to the professionals.  The above process is highly simplified from the service you will receive from your local rug washing plant.  Our best advice is to always use caution prior to washing your rug, and test for colorfastness of colors.  Be sure to allow your carpet to thoroughly dry, and never leave detergent in your carpet for an extended period of time. 

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