Maintaining Your Oriental Carpet: Vacuuming

  • Oriental rugs need regular vacuuming
  • Care must be taken with the vacuum or it can destroy the rug
  • When damage is done with a vacuum, it’s best to repair it immediately

I have had a lot of clients ask me, “is it ok to clean my rugs at home with a vacuum?” My answer? Yes, in fact, you must clean them, but…carefully.

Regularly going over your rugs with a vacuum will help to keep them comfortable, colorful and clean in between regular professional cleaning. That said, the most important thing to be very careful with is the edges of the rugs. The fringe at opposite ends is delicate and can be easily and quickly destroyed by a home vacuum cleaner. I’ve seen tremendous and expensive damage done by someone who went all the way to the edge of the carpet and inhaled the corner of the rug into the vacuum. Doing this can tear the rug apart and once the backing is damaged, oftentimes it’s not worth it to repair the rug, so it’s effectively ruined. Most people think the greatest danger to their rug is a glass of red wine, but it’s really the vacuum cleaner.

The correct way to vacuum one of these precious rugs is really very simple. You can vacuum the main body of the rug as you normally might, but don’t get close to the fringe ends. Most people tell you not to be afraid, be afraid of the edges and particularly the end fringes.

The vacuum needs to stay away from the edge of the rug

Once you’ve cleaned the main body of the rug to a vacuum’s width from the edge (usually about a foot), turn the vacuum 90 degrees and run it along the rug’s edge. Turning the vacuum like this will allow you to clean the entire rug without ever getting near the fringe.

Clean the edge of the rug with the vacuum turned parallel to the edge

Even when done correctly, you must use caution and never vacuum over the fringe. I can’t say this enough. All it takes is a careless moment and a beautiful and one of a kind rug can be destroyed.

If you do happen to vacuum over the edge and damage the integrity of your rug, take it to a repair professional as soon as possible. Another mistake I have seen made many times is waiting to repair damage. If the rug is starting to come apart, waiting to fix it will make the repair more extensive and as a consequence more costly.

Do clean, but use the vacuum thoughtfully and make any repairs immediately. Hope this helps and please contact me with any questions. I’m always happy to share any knowledge I have.

Sam Ramazani is an Oriental carpet educator, appraiser, broker, and skilled repair craftsman. With his daughter Sara, he owns Sara’s Oriental Rugs in Louisville, KY, providing beautiful handmade rugs, as well as expert rug cleaning and repair.

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