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Washing a hand Tufted Rug?!?!?


We have a carpet in need of cleaning.  It was not an expensive rug by any means but we need it to be presentable for guests.  What are we to do?  It's about 3 feet by 5 feet.


Tufted rug in dire need of cleaning!


Hello there!

Great question, and thanks for sending a photograph along with the inquiry, this helps a great deal.

There are several different things we're going to address before ultimately alluding to the idea of purchasing a new rug.  We're sure this is a great looking rug, we're just going to provide some info which applies to many tufted rugs (not all)...

First, as we just mentioned, this is a hand tufted rug.  Tufted rugs have two main positive attributes: a.  They're quite inexpensive, making them an appealing alternative to hand knotted rugs, and in some cases even machine made rugs.  b.  They're quick to make, therefore making production quick reaction in accordance to demand.  That is to say, with the ever changing trends in home decor, style, color etc.  hand tufted rugs can keep up with the pace fast.  Designs may be rendered, produced, exported and arrive in showrooms across the world in a fraction of the time it would take for hand knotted rugs to respond. 

However, there are many, many things to address in regards to these hand tufted rugs which is important to consider when it comes to purchase and or cleaning.  Due to the construction, they've been noted by many in the industry as "disposable rugs" for a multiple of reasons.

1. Poor cleaning options.  Other than the regular vacuuming and spot cleaning, many hand tufted rugs simply will not react well to a proper, formal shampoo wash.  Due to the construction, it's not uncommon for a lower to middle grade hand tufted rug or carpet to react very poorly to standard washing techniques.  Upon curing (post wash) many of these rugs will not dry uniformly, or may develop areas which ripple, crease or otherwise buckle, rendering the piece as more of a "tripping hazard" than the beautiful floor covering you may have remembered it as. :(   This also does not account for other possibilities such as lower grade wools used in production, possibility of color run, or even adverse affect on general lifespan of the piece itself which may be decreased due to exposure to water, detergents or other.  

2. It may be that some react fine to washing.  However, it's also important to note the expected lifespan of some pieces, the cost of cleaning, and the opportunity of purchasing an entirely new rug. This 3x5 equates to 15 square feet.  The average cost of cleaning is somewhere in the vicinity of $1.50 - 2.50 per square foot.  Sounds like a $30 wash, right?  However, IF your local rug dealer is willing to clean these rugs (many are not), often times, you're still looking at a minimum price of a $50-75 per order.  This is the only cost effective way for dealers to offer the service of cleaning rugs.  You may as well invest in a whole new rug because of the risk involved with washing, the cost of washing, all this on top of the projected lifespan of the rug which is probably no more than just a few more additional years.

3. Many hand tufted rugs have ongoing issues with odor.

What are we suggesting?

Rescue your old rug in one of three ways.  Vacuum front and back as best as possible, then treat curent stains with a topical spot treatment in home and leave where is.  Second, find another area for this rug to be used such as garage or other.  Or lastly, purchase a new rug.

We encourage purchase a new rug, and an authentic, hand knotted rug at that.

Everyone is going "green" and earth friendly now.  While wool rugs will ofter the advantage of using a renewable resource, not all rugs are "green" in the sense of long term.  Such is especially the case with tufted rugs.  They're heavy to transport, and have a significantly shorter lifespan than a hand knotted rug. What does this mean?  A loose example:  Let say the average, middle grade Oriental Rug has a lifespan of 60 years, and the average hand tufted rug has an age of 10 years (being optimistic).  You're looking at 6 hand tufted rugs for each hand knotted rug purchased. That's 6x more transportation, 6x more junk in a landfill... nevermind the odors which sometimes emanate from these rugs, the VOC's and off gasses sometimes associated with these rugs too.  Synthetic rugs, and sometimes compounds used in production of tufted rugs may contribute to an in home toxin level up to five times more hazardous than the air outside your house as estimated by the EPA.

Economically, environmentally, and health wise, our best advise is to seriously consider a hand knotted rug.  More often than not, this additional investment will be more resilient, have better cleaning ability, and may have higher resale potential than these trendy tufted rugs.

-Rug Rag


We look forward to talking with anyone who may have questions on or about oriental rugs.  We are an Independent Reviewer, and will give you our opinion for any rug, new or old.  Should you have any questions you would like to submit for a blog entry response, please do so, and be sure to include photographs of your rug.  For more information, please take a look at the bottom of this page, or feel free to Contact Us at


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For all those interested in submitting a question to the Rug Rag Editors:  We'd be more than happy to help, please send some photographs of the reverse side of the rug very close up with a quarter placed on the knots, plus a picture of the fringe, the whole face of the rug and detail shot of the pile.  If the rug is worn, please include photographs of worn areas.  For rugs of any age, please be sure to check for dry areas, moth damage, odor, and whether or not the rug is straight/has right angles where called for.  If you have any questions about our assessment request feel free to send us an email.  Otherwise, we are looking for something similar to these images posted here


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November 6. 2008 21:00

Dusty Roberts

Wow. What a great response and I love your reasoning for why a "tufted" rug is very "ungreen'

Of coarse the one thing that you did not address was the rug owners love of the rug. If she/he has decorated around the rug and the rug is going to clean up OK then we always will encourage the client to go ahead with the cleaning and care unless of coarse the rug is a stinker.

In our "showroom" for our rug care studio we always have a real "now" tufted rug on the wall alongside a med quality hand knotted. We use this as an opportunity to show clients how they can identify the difference and of coarse we encourage folks to appreciate the hand knotted rug. We have turned many uninformed clients into educated buyers of good rugs by doing just this and of coarse our local rug dealers love us.. (we don't sell rugs ourselves)

I hope this helps a bit.

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Dusty Roberts

November 7. 2008 18:46


Thanks for the kind words Dusty. First, you bring up an excellent point regarding the love of rugs. It's very easy to fall in love with a rug, no matter what it is. Inevitably, finding a new rug to meet or exceed the passion once had for the old is almost impossible.

Perhaps the info was a little harsh now that I read it again, but my experience with tufted rugs having been in the business for some time leaves me less than impressed for most commercially available pieces. Many of the larger chain stores simply do not have the interest to do anything more than churn out quantity. Certainly there have been vast improvements with the materials used, and reduction of the odors which sometimes come from these rugs. However, there is still room to get better. If they don't, there's probably going to be something else to come along.

I am surprised you do not have rugs for sale, this is absolutely something to consider! At least a few consignment pieces from local rug dealers :) You have a great way of demonstrating your effective points as seen on the youtube vids... so it does not surprise me a bit to hear you've got the tufted vs. the knotted for customers to see first hand in the showroom!

Thanks so much, you bring up some awesome points and it's really good to hear you're helping educate consumers :)

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January 29. 2009 11:44

Khosrow Sobhe

I loved this informative section on tufted rugs. Our first hand experience with cleaning hand tufted rugs is not a good one. They delaminate and backing comes off the rug in many instances. Some of them lose their sheen and luster. There are many non-expensive and affordable hand knotted rugs in the market that can be bought instead of hand tufted rugs.

Khosrow Sobhe

Khosrow Sobhe

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