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Tip of the Rug Spill Iceberg…


Most woven rugs have wool knots tied around COTTON fibers for its construction. Cotton allows for a more consistent shape and construction as foundation threads (warps and wefts).

Take a look at any hand woven rug, and you can grab one single fringe tassel, and it literally runs all the way through the middle of the rug to the opposite side. The knots are wrapped around each of these warp strands.


Each cotton fringe tassel runs the entire length of this rug.

Most rugs have a cotton interior “skeleton” to them – and as we know, cotton is absorbent (it’s why we use it for our towels).

This means when you have a rug with a spill on it – what you can see on the surface is just the tip of the iceburg, especially if the spill is an acidic spill like juice, soda, coffee, tea, or the worst spill – pet urine or vomit.

This is bad… but it is just the tip of the iceburg.


Ideally, when you spill something on a wool rug, you go to blot it up immediately. Wool has a certain level of repellency to liquid so it does give a level of protection that allows you to grab a cotton towel and blot the spill up.

But when a spill is allowed to sit for awhile, and soak into the cotton interior, you have several problems as a result. It can cause color loss, stiffness of the area (and potential mildew and dry rot if left damp too long), odor, and also if the spill is food-related it can end up being a food source for a host of different insects.

With significant spills, of course the rug needs to head to a rug cleaning plant and given a bath in order to remove not just the contaminants in the surface wool fuzzy face fibers, but also to flush out what has been absorbed into the middle of the rug cotton foundation fibers.

Thorough cleaning like this cannot be done in the home, it can only be surfaced cleaned. The rug needs to be given a bath and by companies who know how to fiber test, dye test, and who have experience handling both woven and tufted rugs.

If you keep trying to clean an area on your rug, and it seems that the problem keeps coming back again and again – now you know why. You are treating the tip of the iceburg, and you need someone to help clean all of the contaminants that are lodged inside the middle of your rug.

– Lisa