Maintenance Tips

Myths About Oriental Rugs

Is furnished by permission to Tom Monahan (Company Owner) by the Master Rug Cleaners program from which he graduated in 2007. Instructors Ellen Amirkhan & Aaron Groseclose also co-authored A Comprehensive Guide to Oriental & Specialty Rug Cleaning.

Myth 1: Oriental rugs are identified only by design.
Design is only one component used to identify Oriental rugs. A technical analysis of the rug’s materials, construction, dyes, and design is the method used to identify rugs.

Myth 2: All Oriental rugs appreciate in value.
Most post-World War II rugs do not appreciate in value, nor will most rugs purchased new today appreciate in value. Consumers most likely paid too much for rugs they purchased in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and they would be worth less today.

Myth 3: All old rugs are worth a lot.
Condition is important when determining value. An old rug in poor condition is just an old rug. An old rug in good condition may also be without value if it lacks artistic merit. However, some old rugs are worth repairing and their value will increase with proper restoration.

Myth 4: Persian (Iranian) rugs are better than rugs from other countries.
Some older, traditional Persian rugs (pre-WWII), such as Ferahan Sarouk, Motashem kashan, Tabriz, Bijar, and Heriz tribal pieces, and other noteworthy examples will always have a market in the right conditions. Since the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the embargo on Persian goods in 1987 (lifted in March 1999), other countries have improved and increased their output of rugs. The quality of Persian rugs since the 1960s has gradually deteriorated. Tom Monahan is of the opinion that the quality will return slowly with smaller quantities and higher prices. There is a lot of catching up to do.

Myth 5: Never clean or vacuum Oriental rugs.
About 80 percent of soil in rugs is dry particulate matter. It acts as sandpaper and wears out the rug. Because some rugs are thick, if they are not regularly vacuumed and cleaned, the soil will become so embedded that it is impossible to remove all of it. Beware of any rug seller who says a rug should not be cleaned. What they really mean is the rug will not withstand cleaning due to condition, foundation painting, or some other hidden defects.

Myth 6: Knot count is the best indication of value.
The value of only a few traditional Persian rugs is partially determined by knot count. Examples are Nain and Isfahan. The value of silk rugs is also partially based on knot count. New, mass-produced rugs from China, India, and Pakistan come in a variety of qualities and designs. Generally speaking, the more knots per square inch, the higher the price per square foot. Once these mass-produced rugs are put into use, their value in the secondary market is not based on knot count.

Cleaning Tips

  • Never clean rugs on location in the customer’s home unless there are extenuating circumstances such as size, weight, or furniture, which make bringing the rug into a plant for cleaning plant difficult. In-home cleaning is much cheaper but leaves soap and dirt residue in the rug that causes the rug to re-soil quickly. On location, the fringe cannot be cleaned and the rug may mildew on the floor because of inadequate drying.Always have your area rugs taken out of the home and cleaned by a professional company that specializes in Oriental rug cleaning. Note: If the cleaning company does not know what type of rug you have or the fiber content, they probably know very little about cleaning area rugs.
  • The Oriental Rug Importers of America recommends that hand-made rugs be cleaned every two to four years. Rugs used in heavily trafficked areas, such as an entry hall, may need to be cleaned every year. Because some rugs are thick, waiting too long between cleanings makes the deeply embedded soil impossible to remove completely. Moths can be found in rooms that are seldom used in dark spaces under furniture and they are more likely to attack wool rugs that are dirty.
  • Vacuum Rugs Regularly. 80 percent of soil in rugs is dry particulate matter. This matter acts as sandpaper and wears out the rug.
  • Again, beware of any rug seller who tells you that the rug you have just bought from them should not be cleaned. What this really means is that the rug will not withstand cleaning due to condition, foundation “painting,” or other hidden defects.
  • Help Protect Your Wool Rugs from stains and soil. Wool rugs are generally sold without any type of stain protection. Our MICROSEAL Fabric Protection is Woolsafe® approved.
  • Spills and Accidents should be addressed immediately. But, DO NOT USE over-the-counter spotters found in drug, grocery, and home improvement stores. These spotters are too aggressive and can leave irreversibly discolored areas. Instead, use cold water or club soda as an emergency measure until a professional can clean the rug.
  • Rug padding provides a protective layer between your rug and the floor. A pad helps minimize slippage, increases the life of the rug, makes the rug feel thicker and more luxurious, smoothes out irregularities in the floor, and absorbs noise. All pads are not created equal. The best pads for hardwood floors are made with a layer of synthetic felted material on the topside with a rubber coating on the bottom. The type of pad we recommend depends on the surface that the pad will be laid upon. A proper-size pad should be cut two inches narrower than the width of the rug and two inches shorter than the length, not including the fringe.

Consumer Rug Buying Tips

In the August 1999 issue of Consumer Reports, the article “Buying A Rug,” in our opinion, is one of the most informative and objective pieces written on the subject of Oriental rugs. This article is a must-read for anyone interesting in purchasing an Oriental rug or in additional information.

Buyer Beware . . .

Itinerant Auctions
Various ploys are used to create a sense of urgency on the part of the consumer, such as a “liquidation to satisfy bank lien.” Generally held in hotels, these rugs are on consignment from wholesalers that have not been able to sell them to regular customers because of their inferior quality. These auctions are a good way to turn “dead” inventory into profit. However, there are no bargains to be had at these auctions.

Going Out of Business Sales
A “Going Out of Business” This type of “sale” is just another marketing tool. They can go on for months or years and are intended to create a sense of urgency among customers to buy now. And, as in the itinerant auction, there are seldom any bargains to be had.

Deep Discounts
Retailers cannot afford to sell rugs for less than cost and expect to stay in business and make a profit. There are times that a dealer will have a sale to move old inventory, but beware of those that consistently advertise 75 percent to 85 percent off retail.

Painted Rugs
Painting refers to rugs that have been “cosmetically enhanced” by applying color to the foundation of the rug where it is worn. Painting is done to cover or conceal wear on older rugs, often without the buyer’s knowledge. Painting is far less expensive than re-knotting a rug, is usually not colorfast, and is an expedient way to make a worn rug look better than it actually is. When buying an older rug, test for painting by applying water to a white towel and rubbing any suspicious looking worn areas. If color transfers to the towel, the rug has been painted. Never buy painted rugs as they will wear quickly and cannot be cleaned without the paint” bleeding all over the rug.

Restoring Your Treasure

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