How To Wash Your Oriental Rug. from Milton Cater Oriental Carpets of Australia.
Note: Some of these terms and cleaning products are foreign. This article originated in Australia. However, if you are thinking of washing your own rug, this is an excellent explanation of how to do it.
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Step 1 The Wash Space.
Choose a flat area such as a concrete driveway, wooden deck, or pool surround. A gently sloping driveway is a good choice. Make sure it is clean and large enough, has a nearby environmentally safe drain (some municipalities will not let you put suds into the drain) and a plentiful supply of water. Watch the weather and choose a time when you have a few fine warm and even windy days ahead. There is usually only one or two seasons suitable in most climatic zones, and they around spring/summer.
Step 2 Tools
Water, Water, there is never enough water! Have at least 2 garden hoses on hand and more if your rug is roomsize. Brushes - two, a nail brush for small areas and fringes and a soft brickies brush. Hard brushes are out! Better to use a straw hand broom or bare hands. A squeegee. Not the window cleaners' rubber type. You may have to make your own from a piece of pine about a foot or 30cms long and big enough to hold. Something around 3x1inch or75x25mm. Sand off one horizontal edge to pencil roundness.A bucket for mixing suds and a cup and small artists brush for applying neat soap. Soap. This is not really as important as people think, and one can be too neurotic about it. This instruction covers 99% of household rugs. The fragile and ancient museum antiques should be given to a specialist to wash. You may use the mild clothes washing soaps like LUX flakes, or Sunlight pure soap. The wool wash section of the supermarket will have a range of "specially for woollies" soaps and these are probably the best and easiest to use in most cases. These wool washes will not clean cotton warps/fringes so use the pure soaps on the cotton. The important thing is to have a reasonably strong suds solution in a bucket. You will apply this to the wet rug. Never use bleaches or strong soaking soaps or harsh detergents, or water softeners, as they will ruin the handle and dry out the lanolin.
Step 3 The Rug
What sort of rug is it? Is it heavy, light, old, new, damaged, stained etc.You should not attempt a badly stained rug nor should you wash a valuable antique rug yourself. You should not wash a carpet too big or heavy for you to turn over when wet. 3x2metres or 6x9ft is usually the householder's maximum.
Step 4 PreparationRunning dyes are your biggest problem. Certain types of rug are out. Such as Nain, Turkmen(istan), much Iranian and Turkish village products as well as Afghan mowri etc. The list is endless. The colors that run can be deceptive, also. ie. Blue is nearly always a safe color but it is a running color in 1960's and 70's Ardebils, even though other Azerbaijan rugs of the period all have good blues! Generally the more synthetic or hard/saturated a color looks the more likely it is to run. ie. Most bright oranges run as do a lot of dark maroons. There are some tricky strange greens. The older a carpet the less likely it is to run with good old 100% vegetable dyed rugs being totally safe. To check for running color take a white absorbent cloth like a nappy or multiple white paper towels. Wet a small area of the rug. Only wet the pile or nap, do not thoroughly soak. Choose an area that has all the colors. You may have to do two areas on some rugs to ensure all colors are checked. The size of the area will depend on the fineness of weave and the intricacy of design but the size of the palm of your hand is usually sufficient. Place the dry cloth on the wet area and apply pressure and hold for a few minutes (or apply a heavy weight). If there is running color your white cloth will be stained. You may even have the design imprinted into the cloth! NOTE: this method is not completely foolproof as some colors will run only when soaked for hours as in washing! However, those colors are unusual and the running is usually slight/insignificant. Continued in part 2.