07 PM | 20 Feb

Rugs and Floods. What to do

With the number of home floods escalating due to severe weather, a number of rugs will be exposed to flood water.

The longer a rug remains wet the more likely it is to have dye migration that is not correctible.

Rugs that are not washed properly, and not dried thoroughly, can end up with mildew and dry rot problems.

Here are tips to minimize the damage to oriental rugs involved in floods:

  • Extract the water as soon as possible using a wet vacuum or having your water damage restoration company extract with their professional water removal equipment.
  • (Professional equipment like the Water Claw and the Rover are the quickest way to remove water in the home from wet rugs. The Water Claw should be used on the BACK side of the rug. The Rover can be ridden and pulls much more moisture out quicker, and with the smooth lip on the extraction points, it can be used on the front or back of the rug.)

  • Make sure you wand extract WITH the direction of the rug’s fiber nap, instead of against it (this minimizes fiber damage). If you “pet” the rug, it’s like petting your animals, you can feel which direction is *with* the grain, and which is against it.
  • If you are unable to have the rugs thoroughly washed right away, then it’s important to get the rugs as dry as possible as quickly as possible to lessen the risks of permanent damage. Dry them fast and wash/sanitize them later.
  • When transporting to a rug cleaning facility to be washed, wrap in towels or sheets to prevent dry from migration from one rug to another. It is very difficult to remove dye migration.
  • Do NOT hang up wet rugs. Extract and dry out flat. Hanging wet puts too much weight on the foundation of the rugs, and will pull the migrating dye throughout the face of the rug and into it’s fringe tassels.
  • Do NOT dry in direct sunlight. Most contemporary rugs are sensitive to sunlight fading. If you must dry in sunlight, lay the rugs face down so fading occurs on the back side only until the rugs are taken to a rug washing facility.

Wool and silk oriental rugs can take months, sometimes years, to weave by hand. If you have investment textiles you want to protect from a flood that has affected your home, simply follow these guidelines and you can lessen the risk of permanent damage to your rugs due to extended exposure to water.

Once you have done your best to minimize the damage, the rugs then need to be thoroughly washed and sanitized before being returned to the home. This is done in professional rug washing facilities.

Even the filthiest rugs can come out looking fantastic with a good bath.

When it comes to something as messy and dangerous as floods, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Print and keep these tips handy in case you have the unfortunate experience of having your home flooded. And you will know what to do in order to help protect your favorite rugs, and to make sure they are clean and safe when they are returned to your “fixed up” home.

– Lisa

P.S. If you like this post, then please *share* it so that others who might have floods will know what to do too. Thank you!

04 PM | 26 Sep

Watch out for Tea-Washed Rugs in the home…

Tea-washed rugs are rugs that have had a brown “tea-like” dye solution applied to the rug to make it appear darker, older, or to hide some underlying flaws (like past dye bleed damage).

The “tea wash” solution, tends to be on the basic pH side, so that it will “hold” to the acid pH original rug dyes better. This can make things tricky if you need to put the rug on the acid side to “stabilize” the original rugs non-colorfast acid dyes, because this leads to even more “removal” of the after-weaving application of the “tea wash.”

This makes cleaning tea washed rugs a challenge for rug cleaners, and a problem for any owner of a tea washed rug who ever spills ANYTHING on it.

Here is a photo of a tea washed rug – notice how the fringes are more beige, just as the field of the rug is:

Obviously tea dyed fringe is a telltale sign of a tea washed rug.

Sometimes you can grin open the fibers and visually see that a “tea wash” dye has been applied:

Grinning open the fibers can show the tea wash application.

But to be safe, you need to dye test these rugs to see if they are in fact “tea washed” because these rugs often lose that additional dye in even the most gentle cleaning.

If a tea washed rug transfers brown on to a DRY white towel easily when you brush the towel along the fibers, then you WILL lose this brown color during cleaning no matter what you do. Even low-moisture and dry-compound cleaning methods will remove dry that easily crocks onto a dry towel.

If a tea washed rug transfers brown to a damp towel, or in a hot water test, then you will lose color during cleaning as well.

You might even not be cleaning the rug, and accidentally remove this dye, like this cleaner who was cleaning a sofa and over-sprayed the solution on to this tea washed rug…

The cleaner should have put a tarp UNDER the sofa to protect the rug. Very expensive mistake.

…and ended up having to buy the client a whole new rug.

These rugs can be identified easily through proper pre-inspection and dye testing. And then you can choose to turn away the job, or get a release of liability to proceed with the cleaning.

This is a TEMPORARY application to the rug in about 95% of the cases. This means it will clean off.

Clients who buy these rugs should be told this BEFORE the purchase, so that they know that this rug will not look exactly the same after its first cleaning. It is a manufacturing flaw the buyer should be made aware of.

There are a lot of these out in the market right now – so keep an eye out.

And if you want to see some other common Rug Disasters to watch out for, here’s my latest report on exactly this topic of the most common Rug Disasters.

The strongest skill any professional rug cleaner can develop is the skill of pre-inspection. Most “ruined rugs” I am asked to inspect have come from not paying really close attention to the textile they have in their hands.

A specialist knows that the more time you spend BEFORE the wash inspecting the front and back of a rug very closely…

…the less time you will spend AFTER the wash fixing rookie mistakes.

Happy rug cleaning!

– Lisa

07 PM | 26 Jun

Rug Repair Training – You interested?

Hello Rug Chick readers!

I’ve been getting a few questions about rug repair, and my mother Kate and I recently spoke at the San Diego Weavers Guild meeting speaking specifically to rug repairs and our philosophies on them.

Here’s a simple little rug repair of field wear. Not reweaving, but selective embroidery stitching (to protect the original foundation fibers) and a little dye work to blend it in.

Field wear in an older Hamadan rug.

Field wear in an older Hamadan rug.

Tada! The Hamadan gets a facelift!

Tada! The Hamadan gets a facelift!

Several years ago we had a few sold-out hands-on rug repair clinics to train the basics of rug maintenance and specialty repairs. Not reweaving and reknotting rugs, but the most requested repairs: ends, sides, and field wear work (including patches).

After our presentation at this workshop we wondered – is it time to have some more Rug Repair Workshops?

So – if you are interested, let me know by posting down below in the COMMENTS. If there is enough interest then we will work together a curriculum, set some dates at our rug facility in San Diego, and let you know how to register.

Enjoy your weekend!

– Lisa

09 PM | 25 May

Do you hate rug fringe? Do not cut it off.

An interesting photo sent to me today – take a look:

Yep – it’s tape. Tape used to hold the fringe tassels in place so you don’t have to keep straightening them.

Pros and cons of this. One – it does keep the fringe tassels, especially hefty fringe like on this Karastan rug, in place.

Cons – you can’t reuse the tape, it leaves residue (and a clean spot) where the adhesive was, and if the fringe tassels are weak with age or past bleaching, the tape will easily tear away those tassels.

On a machine woven rug like this one (you can see the machine work on the edges, and that this fringe is clearly added on after the fact) – torn away tassels are not a big deal. In fact, on this rug you can pull off the fringe entirely with your hands (no scissors required).

But on a hand woven rug – torn away tassels will lead to the rug unraveling and losing its value. This will need to be repaired quickly when this happens. Read about getting rug ends repaired right on this prior post.

So, if you HATE your fringe – do NOT cut the tassels off of an oriental rug. Just say no.

But, no worries, because you can hide the fringe. 

The poor-boy route is to simply use masking tape and tape the tassels under the rug. I choose masking tape because it has the least amount of adhesive, so you do not create a huge mess to clean up versus using packing tape or duct tape.

It’s not the ideal choice, but it’s an option that is much better than cutting off the tassels.

The other option is to hide the fringe professionally, with something that does not damage the tassels with adhesive, and keeps them clean in case you decide you suddenly LOVE fringe again.

We use at our rug shop a burlap material to do this. We sew it by hand at the base of the rug, and fold the tassels underneath the rug safely. Take a look on this Tibetan woven rug:

Customer wants the white fringe hidden from view.

Customer wants the white fringe hidden from view.

Ready to fold the tassels under the rug, and sew to secure.

Ready to fold the tassels under the rug, and sew to secure.

Abracadabra! The fringe has VANISHED!

Abracadabra! The fringe has VANISHED!

Rug friends don’t let friends cut their rug fringe off… ever. Spread the word!

– Lisa

07 AM | 17 Dec

Love/Hate Relationship With Fringe

What is it about fringe?

Some rug owners LOVE it… most rug cleaners HATE it. Why all the drama?

Well, it starts with the fact that when the rug is brand new, it tends to have the bright white, immaculate cotton fringe. It just looks so… NEW.

When rug owners send their rugs off for a professional cleaning, the fringe tassels are usually gray and dirty, and they want them that brand new white again.

But that white is just not natural. And it never was. Just like those Hollywood smiles you see (despite their daily coffee intake) – those pearly whites just don’t happen naturally. They are enhanced, with hydrogen peroxide and other bleaching agents.

That fantastic white fringe is also “enhanced” – and as you know when you repeatedly use chlorine bleach on cotton t-shirts, it will yellow, and it will tear and become brittle. And with fringe this means, the tassels simply begin to break and tear off from foot traffic or your vacuum cleaner – like this:

Repeatedly bleached fringe will begin to tear off.

The use of bleaching agents, or hydrogen peroxide, is a common mistake made by both unskilled cleaners and rug owners to try to “clean up” the look of fringe.

Unfortunately bleach is not a cleaning agent. You need to use actual cleaning solutions and some good old elbow grease to remove soil from fringe. Most don’t have the patience to do it correctly, so they are looking for the quick fix – which is why they grab the bleach.

But think about it… if you had heavily soiled shoelaces (also cotton), and you threw it in your washing machine with hot water and a lot of bleach – how would they turn out?

I’ll give you a hint… TERRIBLE.

To get them clean you need to soak them, scrub them, use some detergent to get them looking decent. And getting them to look like brand new again, when they have been beat up for years? That’s a tough job for anyone.

That is the state that many rugs left without a cleaning for longer than a few years gets to, with VERY dirty fringe. And the owners expect a miracle. This is why many rug cleaners hate fringe. And for the less experienced of them, they may grab that bleach to try to create a shortcut to a great look.

However, many do not realize that the bleaching of the fringe done before the rug was even sold, by the manufacturer, can sometimes create deterioration of those cotton fringes that can quickly worsen with future attempts to “whiten” them.

One country notorious for aggressive whitening of fringe is China – you may recognize their distinctive fringe type here (every country finishes their fringe off in a particular way):

Chinese rugs tend to develop yellowed and weak fringe tassels over time.

I personally am not very fond of fringe, especially long fringe tassels. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just get some scissors and cut those strands clean off… but then I have to stop myself.

You see the fringe tassels are actually the warp foundation fibers of a hand-woven rug. This means cutting them off is a huge NO-NO, because the rug will unravel.

Fringe tassels are the foundation fibers of a woven rug.

The better option is to hide the fringe behind the rug. To either use masking tape to hold it underneath the rug (masking leave little adhesive on the cotton), or to use a strip of material to hold the tassels under the rug and cover them up so they stay in good shape.

Hiding the fringe also means they do not have to be continually bleached to make WHITE again, and then they don’t break off and risk the rug knots pulling away and letting the rug unravel.

Hand-woven rugs made well should last several lifetimes. They should outlive us, and our kids, and our grandkids.

Let’s help make that happen by keeping the bleach away from them. 🙂

– Lisa