Wool rugs are woven to last HUNDREDS of years. In our industry a rug today is not considered to be “antique” unless it is woven before 1900. They are made to last, and many of them do when properly cared for.
However, you put a rug in the wrong conditions, with the wrong bugs, and you can lose that rug in under a year. Eaten away by moths, carpet beetles, or other bugs feeding on other contaminants the rug fibers are holding on to. (more…)
The rug may be colorfast in CERTAIN situations. For example, with a regular cleaning or wash, with a neutral or acid side cleaning solution, the rug could be perfectly fine. No dye migration (aka “bleeding”).
But, under different circumstances, it could absolutely have dyes migrate and bleed out. Some possible culprits – using high heat, using high pH solutions, keeping the rug wet too long (or in a flood), or exposure to pet urine stains.
True or false – A dye fix/lock/stabilizing solution used by cleaners “sets” a wool rug’s dyes?
The solutions available in our industry for professionally cleaning rugs do not “set” the dyes. They STABILIZE them. This means with wool or silk rugs that are NOT colorfast, but test “stable” with the intended stabilizing solution, that you have a WINDOW OF TIME to clean them. (FYI – with silk rugs that window is MUCH shorter than with wool rugs. You better know what you are doing if you are handling silk, or subcontract the work to a rug plant with silk rug expertise.)
I hear many “salespeople” sharing that you “set” the dyes with this or that.
That is not only inaccurate…
…it is downright DANGEROUS.
A cleaner sent me photos from a job where he applied dye fix on two identical rugs for cleaning. He no problem with the first rug cleaning, using his truck mount. (Which, by the way, you should not use truck mounts to clean oriental rugs period… but I’m not going to get into that right now.)
The heat began kicking in after the first rug was done, and so the matching rug with the same dye fix and the same rug cleaning solution EXCEPT now with added much warmer water – you got this…
Heat is bad for natural fiber rugs.
…red dye bleed.
The danger with well-trained professional carpet cleaners deciding to add “rugs” to their services is that their experience with installed carpeting does not transfer to natural fiber oriental and specialty area rug cleaning.
And the solutions, tools, and techniques they own don’t transfer well either.
In the home, heat, alkaline solutions, and the best tools for getting the installed synthetic carpet the cleanest possible, can absolutely ruin natural fiber rugs.
The most common rug problems I’m asked for help with from professional carpet cleaners are 90% due to applying the wrong cleaning techniques to rugs that they do not have the right knowledge about.
And one of the most common results are, dye migration or dye loss or discoloration.
I hope you found these reference items helpful. When you know what to look for, and really get the basics of rug cleaning down pat, you can avoid most of the pitfalls that result from the lack of good information (or misinformation) about properly cleaning rugs.
P.S. If you want to learn some of the most common mistakes made by carpet cleaners when cleaning rugs, in the right column of this blog you can opt in for my Rug Disasters Report. I lay out the top 10 most common mistakes I see when handling all of the “help me!” emails that come my way week after week. This is also the way to be on my list for announcements of my upcoming training programs and workshops. (Don’t worry, I HATE SPAM… so you will not hear from me very often, your email will never be rented or shared with anyone else, and it’s super easy to opt-out.)
The fiber is not just kinda weak – it is VERY weak. Spill on it, and scrub it trying to clean it up, you will permanently distort and damage the fibers.
It likes to YELLOW on you. Get it wet, just with water, and you will have a water mark that ends up looking like a big pet urine puddle. (This is because rayon is a bunch of cellulose by-products, mish-mashed together and heavily chemically process to make it look shiny, and it yellows when wet.)
It likes to BLEED on you. The dyes are not strong. Ever try to clean one of these on your own at home, because it looks easy to clean, and you will create a soup of dyes mingled together if you’re not careful.
And… it looks worse after every year of foot traffic, and after every cleaning. Why? Because you can’t scrub it much without distortion or damage. Think about something you have that is cotton (a stronger version of rayon), like perhaps some socks. They’ve gotten dirty from use, and then you can only wash them by gently soaking them in a cleaning solution, and not being allowed to scrub to try to get the soil loose, and not allowed to use hot water to help remove it (because it would make it come apart more).
How clean could you get those socks? Would you ever be able to wear them again? Probably not.
So you have viscose rugs, with feet, shoes, and paws walking on it – and the contaminants brought in from those sources – and you cannot properly and thoroughly clean it because it’s such an inferior fiber it can’t hold up to proper cleaning over time.
You literally buy a rug, when it’s viscose, that is disposable. It will look good for a short period of time, and will age quickly and will be in the landfill, or given away to Goodwill, in a few years.