How to Maintain an Oriental Rug
Sam Presnell of The Rug Gallery discusses Oriental rug maintenance, and how to prevent wear and tear on your rug, including sweeping your rug, the correct procedure for vacuuming your rug, rotating, rug pads, and more.
John Maher: Welcome to the Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher and I’m here with the owner of the Rug Gallery Sam Presnell. Hi Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hey, John.
How Can a Rug Owner Keep a Rug Well Maintained?
John: Sam today we’re talking about Oriental rug maintenance and preventing wear and tear. What does a rug owner need to do to keep his or her rug well maintained and help to prevent that wear and tear?
Sam: Well, it’s pretty simple, but it seems like a lot of people have some real issues with it. One of the things I’m going to recommend, the easiest thing too, which most people don’t do, is take your shoes off when you come into the house; just drop their shoes at the door. It seems kind of odd, but in most of places in the world that’s a very common thing that you see.
You don’t have that dirt dragging in and getting ground into the carpet or into the rug. The next thing is to sweep regularly. I would say at least once a week, sweep your carpet, and if you have a lot of traffic, maybe a couple of times a week would be recommended. That’ll keep that dirt off the top of it and keep it from working itself in and then into the vacuum.
Sweeping a Rug
John: You actually sweep the rug or carpet itself?
Sam: Yes, and I think that’s very important, that you sweep on a regular basis at least once a week or maybe more. If it’s not an area that’s being used, well that’s not an important issue. If you have pets and hair and things like that, you probably will sweep more regularly than somebody who doesn’t. Those are all things to do. The other thing to think about is rotation, which I know that sounds kind of odd, but the big thing if you’re getting traffic over a specific area is to rotate that rug around.
Basically, you’re getting that wear more evenly on both sides of the rug that’s getting most of the traffic lining. The other thing too, there’s lots of rugs out there like Soumaks and Kilims that are reversible. I see a lot of people bring in a reversible rug, and a braided rug as well, and never use the other side, it was perfectly clean. I’m thinking “Wow, you’d go twice as long between cleaning if you just flipped it over and used the other side and then use both sides of it. You’ve got four traffic areas there.”
There’s a lot of things you can do just as simple as that, but the rotation I think is an important thing and I’d say most people don’t do that. I’ve got to say I fall into that as well. I don’t rotate as much I should and I even know better. It is something that would be very important.
Vacuuming a Rug
John: What about vacuuming your rug? What type of vacuum do you recommend using on a rug and what setting on the vacuum should be used for an Oriental rug?
Sam: Well, I’m glad you said that, in fact, today was one of those days we had a customer very upset. We had a new carpet in, not rugs, but very similar, loop carpet, wilton wool, very fine, spent a lot of money, small area, it’s an office area and the rug was getting fuzzy and splintering and some of the loops were popping. We had an independent inspector go out and take a look at it. First thing he asked the lady, “what kind of sweeper do you have?”
She pulls out the Shark. “How do you clean it?” “Well, I use the beater head.” “Let me see the beater head.” That beater head was like bristles. Really stiff bristles. You’ve got a really soft, wool fiber, looped, very tiny loop, very delicate, and then you’ve got this machine trying to suck the carpet off the floor. It’s an area rug she had made out of this, and basically bristling as well. So it really does either fuzz it, makes it shed tremendously, and it can also make what I call pops or pulls come out of it, and it’s all because of not having the right sweeper or using a right attachment with that sweeper.
Personally, I would have recommend it, had I known what she had, I’d say, “Don’t use that beater bar, use the flat tool you do the hardwood floors or the ceramic floors with and sweep it with the flat tool. Then, if you can adjust the airflow, lighten up that airflow a little bit, so it’s not so strong.” I mean, you can pick up a bowling ball with a Shark or a Dyson. They’re incredibly strong suction power in those machines today and that’s something they top themselves on, but for a textile, especially a fragile textile that’s not made out of synthetic fiber, that can do a lot of damage.
I think that’s a big thing. Again, use flat tools, consider that. If you can adjust the airflow, if you can adjust the pile height of the beater bar where you can just barely touch the pile, that’s very, very important that you do that.
I remember back in my day, just going back about 45 years ago, I sold sweepers door to door. I sold a Kirby sweeper and the big thing was that I could take a cigarette — I used to smoke in those days — stick that white paper, the rice paper, underneath the top of the head and you could adjust the head down, and I’d adjust the head all the way down, and those bristles were so soft, all it would do is just polish that paper on the outside of the cigarette.
Today, I don’t know what they want to do with these commercial sweepers that are not really helpful for some of the fine carpet products and rug products that are on the market today. They can destroy stuff.
John: Like you said, the beater bars can be so hard and bristly. It’s like taking a chainsaw to your rug and then you’re surprised…
Sam: It’s like sandpaper.
John: Yes exactly, and then you’re surprised that it starts coming apart.
Sam: Yes and the first thing they do is, something’s wrong witth the carpet, and “We want to replace it and we think it’s your problem.” Then we’ll say “Well…”. The guy sent the report out and it kind of blamed her for sweeper techniques. Of course, she is not happy about that and she wants to talk to the owner about that and I know what she wants. I’ve been here for 40 some years, I’m used to hearing this and it really isn’t something we did, or the manufacturer did, but they think it should be like steel or something and it just isn’t; that’s what happens when you use the wrong tool.
The sweeper is very important, how you sweep it, what kind of attachment you use on it is also very important. You need to consider those things. If I can highly stress that, that’s what I want to do, because it will save a lot people a lot of misery and also a lot of money.
Other Ways to Maintain a Rug
John: Right. What are some other ways that a rug owner can maintain the beauty and increase the life of their rugs?
Sam: Again, like I said, take your shoes off, rotate your rug, I think that’s very important. When you do have a spot or a spill, catch it right away if you can. Use that cleaning technique we just talked about in a previous podcast about cleaning your own carpet with pet stains, things like that. You need to take care of those things as they happen. I would say the most important thing is speed, reacting quickly, because, like I said, what takes a pet stain from being clear to being yellow is the amount of time that you let it sit on the carpet or the rug.
It’s very important that you clean stains on a regular basis, and just rotate your rugs at least every year or every other year, if you can, or call somebody up, like a cleaning or furniture mover. We do that all the time for customers, we rotate their rugs for them, so that’s not an uncommon request.
John: What about using a rug pad underneath your rug? Is that a good idea and does it matter what type of pad you’re using?
Sam: Most definitely, John, I’m glad you mentioned that, I totally forgot. Yes, padding, it’s been proven, will add about double the life to a rug or carpet, because it’s like a shock absorber would be for a car. It takes all that beating off the back of that carpet or a rug and applies it to the padding. The padding takes that, it’s like the springs on a shock. Yes, definitely a pad will increase the life of a rug and make it last longer.
John: Can worn spots in rugs be repaired if you do end up with a worn spot?
Sam: Some, yeah, some you can, some you can’t. Actually, like I said, it depends on the carpet and so forth, where it’s at. We can patch stuff, we can cut stuff out of a closet and apply it there. Sometimes the coloring you’ve got to be careful about, because color oxidizes different if it’s in light, or not in light. Sometimes we can pull something from underneath the furniture and cut it out of there, but you have some troubles, usually, with good color matches.
Sometimes it’s just noticeable where that patch was, sometimes it’s not. It’s no science, it’s a bit of an art, and so that’s something you do with it. And hand-knotted goods, sometimes we can reweave it, we can take another piece of rug and patch it in there. Depends on the pattern and where it’s at, again, will be less noticeable. There are some things you can do to repair those worn out areas.
Cleaning Rug Fringe
John: What about cleaning the fringe around an Oriental rug? Is that another reason to use that flat tool on the vacuum like you were talking about, as opposed to the spinning beater bar that sucks those things up?
Sam: Yes, and that’s usually the biggest culprit of these fringes getting destroyed, is usually those beater bar type of things. The way you vacuum is important when you come to a fringe, so that’s another tip that we should talk about. When you get to the edge of a carpet, never go up to it like you’re going perpendicular to it. Get off of it, get off to the edge where you’re half on the floor and half on the rug and then sweep that edge across the side of it, being half on, half off of the rug, and it takes all that suction out of it. It keeps it from sucking that fringe off of the floor into the vacuum. Just by breaking that air pressure, it makes the difference and you get the edge clean, as well as you won’t destroy the fringe too.
John: All right that’s great advice Sam, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sam: You’re welcome John, thank you.
John: For more information about Sam the Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets, visit ruggallerycincy.com. That’s rug gallery c-i-n-c-y dot com or call (513) 793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes, and if you could take the time to give us a review as well, we’d appreciate that. See you next time on the Rug Gallery.