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Protecting Oriental Rugs from Moths

By : The Rug Gallery 0 Comments

Did you know that moth damage is one of the worst things that can happen to your rug? Listen as Sam Presnell of the Rug Gallery details exactly how a moth does damage, how you prevent moth damage 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: Hi, John.

What kind of damage can a moth do to an Oriental rug?

John: Sam, today we’re talking about protecting Oriental rugs from moths. What kind of damage can a moth do to an Oriental rug?

Sam: It can absolutely eat the rug alive almost. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Moths are really strange in that usually you don’t see the damage because they hide underneath the rug. They eat the rug from the backside of the rug. If you have a true Oriental rug and it’s woven through the back like an Oriental rug is, they’ll start on the backside of it, hide underneath, they plant their larvae, the larvae comes out, and they eat the protein out of the wool which is what wool really is, protein. A lot of times it’s really funny because they’ll pick on a color. They might like the blue or the red or whatever colors in the rug and they’ll just eat that particular color out of it.

When you go to sweep that rug if it’s not underneath a couch or some like that, you may not even know it’s there until you go to move the couch and then you sweep it, and all of a sudden the pile just sweeps up into the vacuum. Next thing you know, you’ve got nothing there but a space where the backing is showing where the wool used to be. It’s kind of a crazy thing because it is not so much that they eat from the pile down, they eat from the back up and it’s hard to actually see the damage sometimes.

John: Right, so because they’re eating from the bottom where you can’t see it, you don’t even know that there’s any damage being done, like you said, until you move the furniture or you pick the rug up or you go to vacuum it and all of a sudden, it’s wrecked.

Sam: Yes. A lot of times and in a lot of homes, an Oriental rug is in a more formal area that is maybe not as actively used. You may not even use that room on a regular basis except for holidays or something like that and you would never even notice that– they’re very– almost you can’t recognize it and see it being done.

What steps should you take to protect an Oriental rug on the floor of your home?

John: Right, so there are a couple of situations. One would be, like you’re talking about, with a rug that’s on display in your home and then you might have rugs that maybe you’re storing. In the case of the rug that’s on display, it’s out on the floor somewhere in your home, are there things that you can do while it’s on the floor to make sure that this damage is not being done by moths?

Sam: The big thing is to look for moths. If you start seeing moths flying around, you probably got damage. If you start seeing these things, they’re like little triangle shape, kind of a tanish gold colored bug that really– at times they’re real tiny. They’re called miller moths and that’s what usually eats clothes and they’ll eat your clothes as well, they’ll eat your rug as well and textiles, fabrics, whatever. They’re not picky and not just rugs because they’ll eat everything. You may not even notice them unless you see a small one flying around—if it starts going and flying around. They don’t travel very far so look in that area where you see them and start checking your textiles and see if you can see where that’s happening again.

If it’s a rug, look at the back of a rug, or a drape look at the back of the drape or the fabric on a sofa or whatever. Move its chairs and take a good look around. If you look at the back, you’ll see this white– like a slimy film. It’s like, you can imagine, like you would see they make cocoons out of, basically. They lay their eggs in it so it would be like a– I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a caterpillar that spins a cocoon or whatever. A moth is, that’s a bad comparison, but kind of like that. You’ll see this white filmy stuff and that’s actually the larva that’s embedded into that filmy stuff. It looks like silk almost.

Eventually, when those larvas hatch, they start eating and they do devastation to it. Eventually, they grow up and become moths, they fly away and they do it again and again and again. So, sweep the rug regular, if it’s a rug, rotate the rug on an ongoing basis where you actually move it from one end of the room to the other so at least you can see it. Checking underneath the furniture every so often is very important, to take care of a rug like that. There is also a spray you can actually spray on a rug that we have at the store here, but I’m sure other rug dealers cross country also have it. It isn’t moth proof but it is moth resistant. Basically, it’s sours the taste of the wool so that they don’t like the taste of it so they’ll try to find something else on a new rug to eat. That’ll be it for something that’s on display.

John: If you’re storing a rug to use at a later time, maybe have it in your basement or your attic or in a closet somewhere, what can you do to prevent moths from eating that rug while it’s being stored?

Sam: A rug that you’d have in the basement storage or in the attic, basically we would always recommend that you put moth crystals in as you’re wrapping it up. Then wrap brown paper or seal it with plastic, whatever, so that moths can’t get in. The big thing is moth crystals. It’s probably the best recipe if you’re doing something in storage. Also, never store something in a basement on the cement or on the floor because moisture problems can wick into the rug as well.

John: All right. That’s really great information, Sam. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Sam: All right, John, my pleasure. Thank you.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery, and Oriental rugs and carpets, visit 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. I’m John Maher, see you next time on The Rug Gallery.

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Categories: Ask Sam, Rug

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