When we were first asked how to clean and take care of Moroccan rugs, we simply asked the artisans who made them. “Well,” they said, “every month or so just take the rug outside and shake it, rinse it off in the river, then place it over a small shrub to let it dry.” This works so amazingly well that artisans have been doing this for centuries.
But what do you do if you don’t have a fresh, mountain spring-fed river in your backyard, much less in your apartment in New York? The answer, like many things when it comes to best care practices, is preventative care.
Preventative care doesn’t mean you have to tackle anyone who wants to walk on your rug or hang it up on a wall so it is never touched. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. What surprises many customers is that it isn’t exactly heavy foot traffic that ruins a rug, it’s the dirt that accumulates and embeds itself in the rug over time as a result of the foot traffic. On a micro level, dirt shreds the fibers of the rug and causes it to degenerate over time. The longer the dirt is left in the rug, the deeper it becomes embedded, which exponentially increases the damage.
The key then is to regularly clean your rug so dirt doesn’t have time to make your rug its home. The easiest way to do this is to take your rug outside and shake it out at least once a week. As the artisans always suggest, shaking out the rug frequently is their go-to technique and is a large reason why the rugs they keep in their homes last decades. If this is impractical, you can clean the rug on a weekly basis with a canister vacuum side to side (not end-to-end) with the beater bear set high. This can be equally if not more effective than shaking out a rug. Combining these techniques on a routine basis is ideal.
What Else Can You Do?
All this said, a small amount of dirt can sometimes be unavoidable. As such, investing in a rug pad can go a long way in preserving your rug even if some dirt gets through. A rug pad is perfect to add a bit more cushion and can prevent people from slipping, particularly if you are placing it on a hardwood floor. Further, a rug pad reduces friction on the bottom on the rug and the surface it is on preventing wear over time. The often unknown benefit is that with less friction with a rug pad blunts the detrimental effects of dirt if it makes it to the bottom of the rug. Rug pads that we would most recommend are ones that are mix between felt (for softness) and rubber (to prevent slipping) like this rug pad listed on Amazon. If you are not planning on placing the rug on a hard wood floor, a simple felt rug pad may be sufficient.
In a worst case scenario, enough dirt could lead to breaking fibers and the rug could start to shed. This should not to be confused with shedding on a new rug, which is normal and can vary depending on the wool that was used to make your rug. You can read more about this on our blog post about wool. While we dive into wool shedding at length on the aforementioned blog post, we always recommend a rug rake to manage shedding without damaging the rug. Again, read our blog on wool to learn more.
After several years though, we recommend getting the rug properly washed, particularly if you have pets in your home. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find a lot of advice on DIY rug washing. We simply can’t endorse many of these simply because each rug is unique. With rugs from the Anou community, all new rugs are dyed in house using non toxic dyes. Best part, we use the best quality dyes that can withstand hot soapy water up to 140 degrees without any bleeding. So if you need to blot out a spill, you never have to worry about bleeding. Rugs from unknown sources may bleed on contact with any water, cold or warm. Ultimately, it’s best to protect the investment you made in your rug by taking it to a professional cleaner who can dial up the perfect way to wash your rug to make it new again and ensure it lasts.
When we looked for a professional cleaner to recommend, we tried to find someone who was truly passionate about what they do. It didn’t take us long to find Lisa at RugChick, who has an amazing blog about rug care and maintenance. No really, the blog is so good that it landed her in the New York Times. Lisa, who runs trainings for professional rug cleaners, personally knows an extensive network of cleaners and has an extensive list of cleaners she endorses and we are certain you can find one near your home. Take a look at her endorsed rug cleaning directory.
Lastly, for any questions that this entry doesn’t answer e-mail us or take a look at Lisa’s blog. Here are some of our favorite posts of hers: