When we think of cleaning an oriental rug, often the classic imagery is of a rug hanging over a clothesline and beating the dirt and grit from the carpet. Another more recent idea we were asked about recently is floating around the Internet a lot now that it's that time of year: The idea of using newly fallen snow to clean carpets.
As the theory goes, once a good accumulation of snow has fallen to the ground, bring your Oriental Rug outside and place it face down in the snow. After a day or two, you remove the rug and all dirt has been absorbed into the snow yielding a cleaner, "greener", low impact on our environment method of "washing" your Oriental. Romantic, right?
While this process may appear to be working, we do not recommend people use this technique to clean their rugs, as it does little more than clean the tips of the wool pile. While it may serve as a once a year fun event to do, the fact is dirt, grit and debris work their way deep down into your carpet. This needs professional deep cleaning to really work out harmful material to your rug's foundation and pile. The other classic example of beating your carpet over a clothesline was an example of this sort of agitation, however, this practice is also considered by some in the industry to be abrasive to the rug.
The amount of material and dirt which may accumulate within your carpet is quite surprising - but no face down treatment in snow is going to remove these high abrasives from the base of your rug. On another note, we have seen people claim they leave these rugs in the snow for upwards of several days: Our suggestion is to be careful of theft (funny video) and animals if you do decide to proceed. You don't want an animal to come by and chew on your highly sentimental Persian Rug!
On another note, it is imperative after a carpet has become wet to give it a thorough and even drying process. Simply draping the carpet over furniture will not work - the carpet should not be in contact with anything on either front or back. Many cleaning plants have large ovens where then hang the carpets vertically to ensure no curling or uneven drying occur. In your home, this can be both challenging and time consuming!
Here's an example article