We get approached all the time by folks with Oriental and/or Persian rugs in their homes who want to know if it’s okay to clean their expensive rugs with a one of those rented rug cleaning machines. Our response is always fast, and to the point: "No." With our decades of carpet cleaning experience, we know exactly why the answer is no. But others understandably want more information about why they should never, ever clean their Persian or Oriental rug using a carpet cleaning machine. So for them, we put together a more detailed explanation.
Rug Cleaning: Material Differences
The first thing to know about the difference between Oriental or Persian rug cleaning and standard rug cleaning is that the rugs are produced in entirely different ways using entirely different materials.
- Persian rugs are typically made of all-natural materials. In most cases, wool. Each strand is hand-dyed and affixed to the base, also by hand, in a process that can take more than a year. Sometimes two.
- Standard wall to wall carpeting is made of synthetic material and produced by an enormous machine that can kick out up to 15 feet of carpet per minute. The synthetic fibers are almost always affixed to the plastic base using a latex adhesive.
The Persian/Oriental production process yields a finished product that can last centuries when treated right. While the wall to wall production process yields carpeting designed to last about 20 years. In order to get those centuries of use out of your Persian carpet however, the nature of the materials must be respected during the cleaning process.
Persian/Oriental Rug Cleaning
Because they're made of wool fibers that are attached to the base by hand, the Oriental carpet texture is extremely complex. There are untold numbers of nook, crannies and crevices into which dirt, dust, pet danger, hair and more can settle. So the rug needs to be cleaned all the way through. That begins with hanging the rug and basically beating it senseless so as to jar loose every last bit of that dirt and debris. Only after the rug has been thoroughly dusted in such a manner can it be properly cleaned. And that's no simple task either.
While most Oriental and Persian rugs are fashioned from wool that’s hardly the only fabric used in their production. Some rugs are made from other natural fibers including silk, cotton or jute. And each one of them has their own special cleaning requirements when it comes to everything from the temperature of the water to the type of cleaner and the way in which the rug needs to dry. Failing to abide by these requirements could easily do permanent damage to the rug and destroy both its aesthetic and market value. And simply running a carpet cleaning machine made for wall to wall carpeting over it is the surest way to guarantee such damage.
Standard Carpet Cleaning
While Persian rug cleaning entails thoroughly dusting the rug and then hand washing it while taking into consideration its age, material, depth and more standard carpet cleaning is a much more one-size-fits-all endeavor. While we always recommend you take advantage of our truck-mounted steam cleaning service to get your carpeting as clean as possible you could, if you wanted, clean them with a rented wet vac.
The nature of the synthetic material and the way the pile is simply glued to the plastic base allows you to flood the carpet with piping hot water and all kinds of harsh chemical cleaners. This type of carpeting is, after all, made to be both comfortable and convenient. And it would be extremely inconvenient if you had to remove the carpet and take all the different parts of it into consideration every time you wanted to do a bit of rug cleaning.
Here’s another thing about standard rug cleaning: the base of the carpet itself is almost never cleaned. Neither for that matter is the base of the pile. (Unless you partake of something like our truck-mounted steam cleaning service.) Why does it stay dirty? Because the hot water we mentioned is almost immediately vacuumed back up by the machine after it hits the carpet. The result is that the surface of the carpet is cleaned while the base remains largely untouched.
Proper Maintenance of Your Persian Rug
The best way to reduce how often you need to call for professional Oriental rug cleaning is by practicing proper maintenance of your rug. Here are a few tips that should help: