10 Golden Rules of Rug Care

Beautiful Persian and Oriental carpets require good care to be treated like the precious art forms that they are. These rugs are beyond valuable, as they not only add elegance to your spaces, but can also acquire an attractive resale value if they are bought from an authentic seller and maintained properly. The good news is that caring for your carpets is quick, easy and relatively inexpensive. Below are some steps that you should follow to ensure their best possible care.

Two area rug gripper samples alongside a rug beating comb, a pair of shearing scissors and strand of yarn.
Photographer: Oulerich (2019, February 27th)
Two area rug gripper samples alongside a rug beating comb, a pair of shearing scissors and strand of yarn. Retrieved from the Bashir Persian Rug Collection.

1. Proper Vacuuming

Oriental carpets should be vacuumed with the suction part of a vacuum cleaner only and never with the vacuum cleaner’s rotating brush mechanism. Use one of the vacuum cleaner’s suction attachments to remove dust. Rug fringes should be straightened manually and then brushed with the suction attachment on a vacuum. You can then straighten out the fringes with a simple brush. If you don’t have one, you can obtain one inexpensively at your local hardware store. Should you see edges or fringes coming off the carpet, it must be taken care of immediately, before they disintegrate further, which will prove to be a costlier repair in the long run.

Professional Cleaning

A Persian or Oriental carpet should be professionally cleaned every 10 to 15 years. Although there are many good carpet cleaning products on the market, an oriental rug is a quality product requiring special care, and nothing compares to the experience and knowledge of a professional carpet cleaner. It is possible to wash a rug by hand by simply hosing it down and brushing the rug lightly and hanging it to dry outside in the sun. However, we do not recommend you do this. We caution against steam cleaning, as this process does not thoroughly clean a rug. We also do not recommend scotch guarding rugs, as the scotch guard process applies a thin film of protectant that quickly disappears once you walk on the rug several times.

We suggest that once a year you:

  • Flip your carpet upside down (pile side down) so that it gets an even wear.
  • Vacuum your rug from the back and beat it with a stick so that any accumulated dirt will dissipate.
  • Place the carpet in its original location and then vacuum the top of the carpet as usual. At this time, vacuum the pile side with the vacuum cleaner’s main attachment using the regular roller brush.
  • Do not over-vacuum your rug. Vacuuming a rug placed in a high traffic area once a week is plenty.

2. Choosing a Good Underpadding (Rug Gripper)


Having the proper under-padding is important. In addition to providing a cushioned walking surface and preventing slips, it can also maintain and protect your flooring. It is important to choose the proper padding for your floor’s surface. Black underpadding, made of recycled tires, is used on wood flooring and can last up to 15 years. Thin green or beige underpadding made in a grid-like pattern are used on wood floors too, but tend to deteriorate within 2 to 4 years. Cotton or polyester under padding with a sticky film on one side is used on wall-to-wall carpeting. To see our entire selection of underpadding, click here.

3. Obtain A Certificate of Appraisal

Certificate of Appraisal

If you are lucky enough to have one or more oriental rugs in your home, it is wise to snap some photos of them and keep them in a safe place in the case of theft or water damage. Having these pictures on hand can facilitate the insurance claim process. In addition, a rug that you value, whether for sentimental reasons or for its monetary worth, should have a certificate made for it. Certificates should be made by a reputable carpet dealer with extensive experience in the business. These certificates should detail the origin, knots, style, approximate age and value of the rug. For more information about our evaluation services, click here.

4. Perform Inspections Regularly

An inspector examining a persian rug

Like anything else, a good carpet should be periodically inspected, especially if you have children or pets, or if it is stored away for some time. Should the carpet show any sign of weakness, wear or moth damage, it should be professionally restored. Take the rug to a reputable carpet dealer for repair. For moth damage, a thorough professional cleaning is the best way to remove moth larvae. The hot drying from washing would destroy any moth eggs. A call to a licensed pest controller may be required for severe infestations, since moth larvae can move from one rug to another. It is necessary to find and kill not only adult moths but also their larvae and eggs, even before the infected rug is professionally cleaned. The good news is that a quality Oriental or Persian carpet can withstand significant wear and tear when cleaned and restored.

5. Treat Spills Quickly

Wine spills on rugs need to be treated quickly

Almost any spilled material will discolor a carpet if left unattended. Blot away excess liquid from the carpet with a wet, white towel and then, using a clean towel or terry cloth rag, apply lukewarm water to wipe away the spilled liquid, be it milk, juice, wine, or pet accidents. Rub the towel back and forth against the rug’s piles until the stain is removed. You might need to use mild detergent such as Ivory dish soap in lukewarm water to remove an oil or grease based stain. Follow this step by blotting a wet terry cloth on the stain to remove soap, and then blot with a dry terry cloth until most of the water is removed. Place a book under the stained area to allow for air to circulate underneath. Use a blow dryer or fan to accelerate drying.

6. Treat Insect Damage Professionally

Textile-eating moths are common, due to the large amount of wool fibers found in carpets. The popularity and widespread use of synthetic fibers has led to the false assumption that moth damage is now rare. However, moths digest protein fibers on wool, silk and specialty hair fibers found on clothing. They also look to find and eat similar protein substances on synthetic fibers. This means that carpets, rugs, draperies and upholstery made from nylon, acrylic, polyester, acetate, and other synthetics can harbor these insects if they contain food or beverage stains, blood, urine, perspiration or other sources of nutritional protein. Cedar scent is useless in moth control.

The most effective way to prevent an infestation and inhibit growth is to keep textile furnishings clean. Spills should be removed immediately. Carpet, rugs, draperies, upholstery, etc., should be brushed or vacuumed regularly, as insects do not generally attack clean materials. Regular dry cleaning of articles appropriate for dry cleaning will also decrease the chances of infestation because dry cleaning solvents are toxic to moth insects. Regular carpet and rug cleaning will remove the nutritional contaminants that can attract and support moths. For more information about carpet cleaning, click here.

7. Avoid Direct Sunlight

Persian and Oriental carpets should not be exposed to direct sunlight since it will fade the colour of the carpets. Ultraviolet rays are a powerful force and will affect the colour quality. If placing your carpet in a sunny area is your only option, consider flipping your carpet end for end once per month. This will reduce the fading to an extent and the colour on both sides of the carpet will be distributed more evenly. Another alternative would be to consider installing sheer drapes to block some of the direct sunlight.

8. Avoid Damp & Wet Environments

Be careful: humidity from plants can damage rugs

Moisture is very dangerous since it can rot the threads used in valuable carpets. A carpet’s cotton foundation can be weakened, and sometimes even rotted, if the rug is wet repeatedly and not properly dried. Often this damage is caused by placing potted plants over your carpet, placing your carpet in a basement susceptible to flooding or a basement floor that is damp. Plants, when watered regularly, can have a leaky pot underneath. This in turn causes the rug underneath the pot to become permanently damp as it absorbs the water from it. Within 2 to 3 weeks, the foundation of the rug can become quite brittle and break. Chunks can get torn off from the affected area as it disintegrates. If your carpet gets affected by excess moisture or dampness, treat it immediately to avoid permanent damage. In this case, use a fan or blow dryer to dry the area.

For the long term, try to place your rug on a slim legged stool, trivet or a caster-based support that would enable you to provide air space and ventilation underneath the plant. A saucer is not enough to prevent this type of damage and a plant should ideally never be placed directly on an Oriental or Persian carpet.Carpets located in basements or areas below ground level can also become negatively affected by moisture. In this case, remove your rug quickly, clean it properly and allow it to dry completely. Using the professional cleaning services of an established rug cleaner would be best.

A more insidious form of damage can occur when you place your carpet over a damp floor such as cement. Although the floor may not be noticeably wet to the touch, microorganisms can still flourish in the material of the warp and weft of the carpet. This would degrade the rug’s strength, causing it to become stiff. In severe cases, when you then roll your rug, you will hear cracking noises generated by the warp and weft fibers breaking.

9. Avoid Pet Damage

Golden rules of rug care: area rug cleaning for pet damage

Puppies tend to chew rugs during tooth growth and this can cause significant damage to your carpet. The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep your pet away from the carpet. Sometimes sprinkling an ounce of moth flakes under your carpet along the edges will deter dogs from chewing it. Also, cats that are not declawed can sometimes cause serious damage to your carpets if they use them to sharpen their claws. If you wish to avoid declawing your cat, then you can put plastic claw covers, such as Soft Paws® nail caps, over your cat’s nails. These can be easily purchased at your local pet shop or online. Alternatively, you can use a squirt gun to spray your cat each time it approaches your carpet for scratching.

10. Ensure Proper Storage

Golden rules of rug care: rolled up oriental rugs wrapped in plastic

Oriental and Persian carpets often get damaged in storage. This is due to the fact that most bugs and rodents thrive in dark, undisturbed places to make their meal. When a rug is to be stored for more than one month, care should be taken to have it inspected and cleaned beforehand. It should be stored in a proper environment and wrapped in protective plastic or specific synthetic paper. Regular periodic inspections are a must. Below are a few steps to follow to ensure proper storage.

The Ideal Environment

The best location to store your valuable carpets would be a room that is cool, dry and has curtains or blinds that can be used to control the amount of natural light. Ideally, place your rug on a shelf or table. If stored for more than 6 months, spray the rug with an insecticide and then place a layer of plastic or paper between the carpet and surface area. This would keep wood acids from being absorbed into your rug. Do not use newspaper or common brown paper as these materials are not chemically stable. They are quite acidic and do not provide protection from insects or moisture. Instead use a protective plastic or a tough synthetic paper like “Tyvek”® building paper.

Moth balls or flakes are to be avoided as they have little repellent effect and impart an odor that can be difficult to remove from your carpet later on. Avoid storing it in places where it would experience major temperature or humidity swings or where there is a lack of natural light and air flow. In other words, do not store your precious rugs in attics, basements, closets and non-climate-controlled storage units. If possible, avoid storing your rugs directly on the floor. Do not store them directly on concrete as this would allow moisture to seep into the fibers.

Rolling vs. Folding

The best way to store your rugs is to keep them rolled. Folding them is not recommended if it will be stored for an extended period of time as that would create a permanent creases and weaken the foundation of the rug from the pressure being exerted on the folded area.

Regular Cleaning

The most effective way to prevent infestation from insects such as moths, and inhibit further spread, is to vacuum your stored rug regularly, as insects do not generally attack clean materials. Ideally, you should treat the carpet for moths or carpet beetle damage before storing it.