Rugs are generally perishable items and hence have to be handled with care to prolong their existence. Since cleaning, although necessary, exposes the rugs to certain degrees of wear and tear, special procedures are required to minimize the damage this may cause. These procedures have to be strictly followed especially for antique rugs because they are more fragile.
A little bit of rug history
How old can an antique rug get? The exact origin of the art of rug weaving is not certain but there seems to a consensus of opinion among archeologists that it started earlier than 2400 BC. No rug as old as that has ever been unearthed but proofs of their existence during that period have been found in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian monuments.
The oldest rug ever to be discovered was found in 1949 in the Pazyric Valley by Soviet archeologists, and was estimated to have existed in 500 BC. Historical accounts also show that the earliest practices of the art of rug weaving flourished in Mongolia, Persia, and China.
Nowadays, popular antique rugs come from Peru, Brazil, India, and Iran (formerly Persia).
Is cleaning necessary?
Some people believe that one way to prolong the life of your rug is to decrease the frequency of cleaning it. This is a fallacy. The art of rug cleaning is as old as the art of rug weaving itself. Because of their large surface area, rugs are constantly exposed to a lot of foreign objects and substances. Dust, insects, mites, and air pollutants easily get caught in the crevices of your rug. These become grinding, abrasive materials when the rug comes in contact with your feet. The lesser the amount of foreign objects in your rug, the lesser the probability of abrasions.
Furthermore, the dust and air pollutants that accumulate on the surface can be hazardous to your health. These can cause respiratory problems as well as allergic reactions. If the moisture level in the area is high, molds colonies can propagate as well. These too can cause health problems if not attended to.
Therefore, cleaning your rug not only prolongs its life; it also helps keep the air in your surroundings safe.
Do-It-Yourself tips for treating spills
It would be impractical to take your rugs to a cleaning expert just to remove a small stain on its surface. There are cleaning procedures you can perform on your own that don’t put your rugs at risk to damage. Just be sure you pay special attention to every procedure and follow them strictly. One important point to bear in mind is that these procedures have to be done immediately after your rug acquired the stain. The longer it takes for the stain to be acted upon, the tougher it gets to remove it.
Unless it is specified below, the general rule for DIY treatment of spills is this:
Use a white cotton towel, paper towel or spoon to blot or scoop the spilled substance; removing as many as you can. Using the least amount of cool or warm water, blot the affected area. Never use hot water as this can damage the fibers. Brushing and rubbing back and forth can also aggravate the problem. Blot from the outside and work your way into the center of the spot. Finally, use all recommended solutions moderately.
There are specific chemical solutions for every type of stain. Before we discuss how to treat a specific stain, let us first talk about the chemicals that are normally used to treat them, and how they should be prepared.
Dishwashing liquid – Use the type that is non-chlorine and dye-free. Mix ½ tsp in ½ cup of cool water by mixing rapidly to form suds. As much as possible only use the suds. Leave this on the affected area for 5 minutes then rinse several times with clean cool water.
Detergent – Use only non-chlorine laundry enzyme detergents. Preparation and application is the same as that for dishwashing liquids.
Oil remover – AFTA’s Goof Off and DW-40 are the recommended brands for this solution. Leave it on the stain for 8 minutes then blot out with alcohol.
Alcohol – Household rubbing alcohol will do. This can be blotted immediately.
Water rinse – Water at room temperature is recommended. This can also be blotted immediately.
Nail polish remover – Make sure that only dye free types are used. Let it stay for 1 minute on the stain then blot.
Rust remover – Any rust remover will do. Let this stay for 1 minute on the stain then blot.
3% hydrogen peroxide – Let this stay for 2 minutes on the stain, rinse with water then blot with a white cotton towel to dry.
Ammonia – Prepare 2 tablespoons per cup of water. Leave it on the affected area for 1 minute then blot.
Vinegar – Use a 3% solution white vinegar. Prepare a solution of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water. Leave this for 1 minute then blot.
Now that we have discussed the specific solutions to apply, their preparation, and how to apply them, we now proceed with the specific spills stains and the corresponding chemicals to use on them.
Adhesives – Apply nail polish remover and rinse with warm water.
Beer – Apply dishwashing liquid then vinegar.
Blood – This one is pretty lengthy. Use cool water, blot, then detergent, followed by ammonia, then detergent again, rust remover, and finish up with hydrogen peroxide.
Candle wax – Start by freezing the area with ice, crack and remove the candle pieces, hot iron with absorbent towel to remove the residue.
Catsup – Start with applying detergent, then ammonia, then detergent again, and finally hydrogen peroxide.
Chewing gum – Freeze the gum with ice then crack and remove the pieces.
Chocolate – Apply detergent, then ammonia, vinegar, and finally detergent.
Coffee – Follow the exact same procedure as chocolate.
Crayon – First, apply oil then follow it up with alcohol. Do this twice before finishing up with dishwashing liquid.
Egg – Apply dishwashing liquid, then ammonia, then do a cool water rinse twice, and finish up with detergent.
Fruit jelly – Apply dishwashing liquid, vinegar, then detergent.
Furniture dye – Use alcohol, then oil remover, then alcohol, then dishwashing liquid.
Water-based glue – Water rinse then apply detergent.
Gravy – Start with dishwashing liquid, then ammonia, then vinegar, and finally apply detergent.
Grease – Apply oil remover repeatedly until you are satisfied, then dishwashing liquid, then ammonia, and finally vinegar.
Ice cream – Start with dishwashing liquid, ammonia, vinegar, detergent, and finish up with alcohol.
Ink from a ballpoint – Use alcohol then an oil remover. If necessary, you may finish it off with a rust remover.
India ink – Apply alcohol, then oil remover, dishwashing liquid, and finally ammonia.
Lipstick – Here’s another lengthy process. Start off with an oil remover, then alcohol, dishwashing liquid, ammonia, and end with vinegar.
Marker pen – Use alcohol, then oil remover, dishwashing liquid, and finally ammonia.
Mildew – Apply detergent then ammonia.
Milk – Begin by applying detergent, ammonia, vinegar, detergent, and finally alcohol.
Mud – First, allow the mud to dry then vacuum whatever can be sucked off. Apply dishwashing liquid on the remaining spot, then ammonia, and finish off with an oil remover.
Mustard – Start with dishwashing liquid, vinegar, detergent, and a rust remover.
Nail polish – Apply a nail polish remover, then alcohol, oil remover, ammonia, and finally vinegar.
Oil – Sequentially apply alcohol and oil remover. Repeat this until you are satisfied, then follow up with dishwashing liquid, ammonia, and finally vinegar.
Water-based paint – Apply dishwashing liquid, ammonia, and oil remover.
Rust – Begin with a rust remover and finish up with a water rinse.
Soft drink – Apply detergent, ammonia, and vinegar.
Soot – Use alcohol, then dishwashing liquid, and ammonia.
Shoe polish – Apply alcohol and then oil remover repeatedly.
Tar – Do the same procedure as for shoe polish.
Toothpaste – Use dishwashing liquid, vinegar, and ammonia.
Urine – Here’s the last of the long ones. Start by applying dishwashing liquid, ammonia, vinegar, water rinse, rust remover, and finally hydrogen peroxide.
Wine – Start with detergent, then ammonia, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and end with a water rinse.
This list has covered majority of the substances that usually fall on a carpet. If you follow these instructions strictly and apply them immediately, you can maintain the original appearance of your rug and reduce the necessity of bringing it to a rug cleaning professional.
Aside from the treatment of stains and spills, you must perform regular cleanup on it. One usual upkeep procedure performed on rugs is vacuuming. When vacuuming your rug, always make sure that you are doing so in the direction of the nap. Orient yourself by running your hand over the rug’s surface.
Professional rug cleaners
Despite all your efforts to constantly maintain the cleanliness of your rug, the time will come when it will have accumulated a lot of foreign substances. This can easily happen to a rug that is in an area with heavy traffic. To make sure that your antique rug is thoroughly cleaned, you’ll have to take it to a professional rug cleaner. Do this on a regular schedule so that you will not forget.