Area Rug Care & Cleaning Guide


Area rugs, Oriental Rugs, Persian Rugs and Rugs of all styles including transitionals will provide remarkably long-lived beauty and value if treated properly and with a conscientious effort, some hand tied and hand knotted rugs can last for generations. Our experience has taught us that although rug maintenance is critical, it is certainly not complicated. We provide some area rug care tips here for your reference.

Besides the obvious destructive effects of wear over the years, the two other enemies of your area rug are moths and moisture.


A rug that remains in use is rarely in danger from moths. Through frequent rotating or handling and by regular exposure to light and air, moths will not find a suitable environment to thrive. If your wool rug must be stored, then it should be inspected regularly.  There are also acceptable chemical applications which can render the wool inedible to moths. Our staff at Area Rug Dimensions serving the greater Kansas City Area can provide specific details based on your unique needs. See our contact us page.


Dampness in your rug will in time rot the threads and destroy the fabric. It is critical that spots and spills be dried and/or removed as soon as possible. If the spill is only water, after blotting up the excess, placing a plastic cup under the rug will help speed up the drying process. Acting quickly when accidents happen, and always having the necessary cleaning materials at hand will prolong the beauty and life of your area rug investment. We reference removing different kinds of spots below.

There may also be incidents of physical damage to your area rug such as a cut or burn. This should also be dealt with as soon as possible by a knowledgeable rug person, for such damage can get worse very quickly.

In ordinary use, quite apart from accident, the ends and sides of your area rug will often tend to wear and fray in which case the parts should be “overcast.” Places in the middle of the carpet that are locally worn or damaged can have new knots inserted and even large holes can be restored to appear almost as good as new, though such work is rather expensive. In carpets of lesser value, instead of new knotting, patches cut from a suitable rug can often be inserted at a lower cost and sometimes a serviceable small rug can be made from a larger worn one by cutting away the bad parts.

Area Rug Rotation

An Oriental Rug that is used in a high traffic area will need to be rotated periodically to minimize wear and to prevent “troughs” or “valleys.” Also, continuous exposure to bright sun and even indirect sunlight will eventually cause damage to the dyed fabrics used in oriental rugs. Rotation of the area rug from sunny areas to the other side of the room will equalize the effect of the sun. Using window shades, shutters or heavy curtains help to reduce sun damage.

Additionally, there have been cases of fading caused by gases and fumes from furnaces, cooking stoves, chimneys or auto exhausts, which when mixed with oxygen and humidity can form an acid. This acid reacts on the wool and causes deterioration and discoloration. Usually faded areas are hidden by soil and will not be apparent until the surface has been cleaned. If this is the case, then the contrast of color fading can be minimized by rotating rugs to make fading or soiling uniform and all parts of the rug will have a chance for equal exposure.

Hanging an Area Rug

Sometimes, a room’s design warrants hanging an area rug on the wall. In this case, you should be certain that the warp threads are durable enough to stand the strain. Do no use nails or staples at the top of a heavy rug that you intend to hang for a long time. Use a strong poster holder to distribute the weight of the rug evenly.

Storing an Area Rug

If a rug is to be stored even if only for a few months, they should initially be cleaned thoroughly prior to storage. Use sheet or cloth to wrap it, but do not use an airtight plastic bag. Oriental rugs need to breathe and they will sometimes rot or mildew in a plastic bag.

It is common to store wool rugs in cedar chests, and they have been proven to be moth repellent, yet not moth proof. Cedar only works when the oil is fresh. If you have a cedar chest it should be sanded on the inside every year to activate the cedar oil. Remember that cedar chests are not air tight and moths can still get into the smallest cracks.

You may also choose to use moth balls. NEVER put moth balls directly onto rugs. Wrap them first in paper towels and then place them in the middle of your rug or in the middle of storage container. For moth balls to work effectively they need to be sealed in an air tight container. The gas they give off needs to build up. Again moth balls repel moths not kill them. If there are moth eggs present before storing with moth balls you may still have moth activity, the eggs and larva can become resistant to the effects of the moth balls.

There have been studies made on many essential natural oils that can be used to repel moths. Camphor, lavender, mint, thyme, rosemary are all mentioned in some combination or other as a natural way to protect wool from moths. These are great natural alternative to moth balls, but again having everything cleaned before storing is the best protection.

Ideally large carpets should be rolled around poles, the protruding ends of which should rest on blocks or trestles. It is advisable to let carpets lie flat on top of one another if stored for an extended time. DO NOT store rugs in a humid, damp, warm or poorly ventilated room. This causes mildew which, discolors fabrics and weakens them so that they fail. Never leave an Oriental rug wet. Failure to remove all of the moisture might result in mildew. Do NOT store an Oriental rug in a hot closet. The base of a rug can dry out and become brittle, destroying the integrity of the rug.

Vacuuming an Area Rug

Never vacuum against the nap of the rug (the direction of the nap can easily be determined by running the hand across the pile from fringe to fringe). Vacuuming against the nap also presses dirt back into the rug. Never vacuum the rug’s fringes. The continued catching of the fringe in the suction of a vacuum cleaner causes the fringes to break and tear. Sweeping the fringe with a broom will give the best result. As a general rule, always vacuum with a low-level suction using a new vacuum bag.

Un-crushing an Area Rug’s Pile

To up-right the piles that are indented or crushed by the legs of heavy furniture, brush the depressed area with a soft brush and lightly moisten the area with a sprayer, the follow-up by brushing.          

Here’s a good list of “general” area rug maintenance tips to insure the maximum life of your area rug:

  • Vacuum regularly. Frequent vacuuming is a wool carpet’s best friend. In most cases, a suction only canister vacuum is best to prevent excess pilling and fuzzing. However, if this type is not available, set vacuum so that the brush is furthest away from the surface of the carpet.
  • Remove spills immediately.
  • Professionally clean as needed. Do not apply stain repellent treatments that contain silicone because they tend to accelerate carpet soiling.
  • Keep doormats clean. Exercise preventative maintenance by placing absorbent mats at the most frequently used entrances to your home. Change or launder when these mats become soiled.
  • The vacuum cleaner dust bag should be changed when half full.
  • Filters in your heating and air conditioning systems should be changed regularly.


Perhaps the most crucial aspect of area rug care is the removal of spots and spills. Acting quickly with the proper procedure, and always having the necessary cleaning materials at hand are key. As a general rule, always rub or brush lightly from the outer edge toward the center of the stain to prevent spreading or causing a “ring” to develop. This is especially true when using solvents on twist pile rugs. On old, dry or stubborn stains, saturate, blot, and brush. Repeat this operation as often as necessary to remove the stain completely.

Steps for Spot Removal:

  • Immediately blot (do not rub) spills with white paper towels or with a clean absorbent cloth. Scoop up solids.
  • Pretest spot-removal in an inconspicuous area.
  • Apply the cleaning agent listed on the spot removal chart (next page) to an absorbent towel and begin to blot up the spill with a blotting motion. Flip cloth to prevent reapplying soil.
  • Do not over saturate with water.
  • Work inwards from the edge of the spot to prevent excess spreading.
  • Wait a few minutes for the cleaning agent to work on the spot. Follow recommended directions.
  • Once the cleaning agent has removed the spot, blot excessive moisture by applying pressure with paper towels or a dry absorbent cloth.
  • Rinse with clear water on a clean cloth.
  • Remove excess moisture by applying pressure with paper towels.

For Dry Clean Only Rugs:

  • We recommend a dry cleaning agent such as Capture®, Host® and Dri-Mate® or the WoolClean Spot Dry RemoverTM available from Wools of New Zealand.
  • Test area first.
  • Vacuum brush should barely skim surface carpet to trap soil just under pile. (Any further aggressive brush setting will cause carpet to pill)

Note: Please be aware that although the products in the Royal Woven Collection are listed as 100% polypropylene, they are flat woven, with natural fiber (jute) backing materials that are exposed on the face. Therefore, the proper maintenance on these products calls for Dry Clean Only. Wet cleaning (i.e. hot water extraction) can cause shrinkage, discoloration of the jute, and wicking of the jute color onto the surface pile.


Click Here to Download this Chart


Because of our many years of experience seeing how various types of padding have performed in the Kansas City and Overland Park homes of our clients, we have very strong opinions about padding and how it can improve the performance of your oriental rug, transitional rug, contemporary rug, or stair runner.

In short there are three very important reasons why you should always place a pad under any area rug you purchase:

  1. Pads keep your Oriental rugs from slipping out of place.
  2. Pads control curling, bunching and wrinkling.
  3. Most important of all, pads greatly reduce rug wear and extend the life of your investment.

Avoiding Area Rug Slippage

It doesn’t really need to be said but a sliding rug can cause very serious injuries. When placed on a hard wood floor, without the proper grip, which an area rug’s normal backing does not provide, the rug is guaranteed to move. To prevent this, one of the best pads to come onto the market is a ¼ inch synthetic felt, which is then bonded to a thin solid rubber backing. Not only is it excellent at anchoring the rug preventing slipping, its felt layer helps extend the life of the rug. We generally recommend this type of padding for all scatter rugs and room-size rugs that do not have a thick pile like antiques, needlepoints, or all kinds of flat weaves. It is also an excellent choice under thick rugs as its thinner synthetic felt profile will not add thickness to the rug.

Controlling Curling, Bunching or Wrinkling of Area Rugs

We have been asked on many occasions if it is really necessary to have a pad when the oriental rug is laid over wall-to-wall carpeting and not bare flooring. Area and oriental rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting will still experience problems. They will likely creep, curl and wrinkle into bunches that not only look unpleasant but can catch your feet and trip you. The right kind of area rug pad makes area rugs stay put, keeps them flat and greatly reduces wear, especially on the edges and ends, which are the most vulnerable areas of an area rug.

Extending the Life of an Area Rug

The most frequent use of an area rug is on a hard surface, and a padding’s main function is to be sturdy enough so that it acts as a “shock absorber” for foot traffic. Area rugs laid directly on bare floors will wear out quickly. Because it can absorb impact, some types of padding can increase the life of your rug by as much as 40 %, however not any type of pad will provide this kind of performance.

We have had many questions whether the main function of area rug padding is merely to provide a soft cushioned feel. To be sure, sponge or foam type padding is much too soft and can cause “bottoming out” which stresses the foundation of an area rug especially of thin finely woven rugs, flat weaves or antiques. In our experience, we have seen sponge and foam padding disintegrate to dust and some actually sticking to the wood floor underneath. Soft area rug pads permit too much flexing, destroying the rug’s foundation and backing causing seams to potentially rip open, especially when used over wall-to-wall carpeting. We have also seen this kind of area rug padding accelerate damage from furniture legs and foot traffic, particularly heels. Think of it this way, you can write on a pad of paper but it’s impossible to write on a piece of paper over a pillow.

According to laboratory tests conducted some years ago by Consumer Guide Reports the type of padding that absorbs impact in the best way is felt. For years all-hair and hair and jute felt pads were the only types available. Fortunately, technology has improved and now we highly recommend the strongest and best performing pad available. It is a dense, non-woven, needle-punched, solution-dyed, hypo-allergenic (no plant or animal fibers) felt made of 100% synthetic fiber. This type of padding does not exasperate allergies, does not break down chemically, resists mildew and rot and insulates against cold floors while providing maximum structural protection to your area rugs. Moths will not eat these fibers and you can’t rip this pad apart or punch through it. It lasts at least 10 years while continuously controlling and protecting your rugs. The best protection for your area rug investment, is a high quality pad.

Come to our showroom at 127th & Metcalf in Overland Park and let us show you an incredible selection of area rugs and rug pads. We’ll make sure that you know how to care for your new area rug.