Maintaining Your Oriental Rug: Spot Cleaning

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Spot cleaning poses one of the biggest challenges for rug owners, especially for people who have children or pets. Do you know what to do if a Coke spills on one of your rugs? Most people think to get a towel and start blotting it. This is actually the worst thing to do; blotting fabric, in this case a rug, pushes the stain down into it. Instead of daubing it up, the stain is becoming more and more embedded in the rug. Instead, a wet/dry shop vac can be used right on the stain to suck as much of the liquid out as possible. Everyone who owns Oriental rugs needs a shop vac. Once the shop vac has gotten as much of the spill out as possible, then take a damp rag and go back and forth over the area of the spill and a little farther than the spill. If the rag picks up stain, rinse it out so that it’s clean. This may need to be done several times. Once the stain is out, the last thing to do is wipe the pile of the rug in the right direction while it’s still wet, so the nap is lying as it’s supposed to. Once the stain is out and the nap is lying correctly, put a fan on the wet area to help it dry. This will take just about any stain out of a rug.

Some harder stains, like red wine, will respond to the same treatment but will need to be flushed as well. After the shop vac has removed as much of the wine as possible and the clean damp rag has removed as much of the stain as possible, the rug needs to be flushed by a specialist. This is tricky because the red wine can’t dry, or it will set. Difficult stains, including red wine, pet urine, blood, highly staining fruit juices like pomegranate need to be kept damp until they can be treated. If these substances dry in a rug, they will never come out completely.

Warp, Weft & Weave: A Life Collecting and Investing in Handmade Oriental Rugs (available now on Amazon)

If you have the bad luck of a spill late at night and can’t get the carpet to the cleaner immediately, once you’ve vacuumed the stain with the shop vac, use a clean rag to create a small pool of tap water on top of the stain. Once the water has seeped into the rug, use the shop vac again to vacuum the water out. This will help get a bit more of the stain and it should also provide enough moisture to keep the stain from drying until you can take it to your rug cleaner in the morning. I tell my clients that a shop vac is a necessary tool for all Oriental rug collectors.


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. He is the author of Warp, Weft & Weave: A Life Collecting and Investing in Handmade Oriental Rugs, now available on Amazon.

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