How to Clean and Maintain Handmade Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs are a visual treat that can enhance the look of any interior space. It’s no surprise that many people are attracted to these beautiful carpets. However, many people hesitate before buying an original Persian, Tabriz, Moroccan, Navajo or other exotic handmade rug. Their main concern is that these handcrafted carpets are difficult to clean and maintain without damaging the fibres. These rugs are made from natural fibres like wool, silk, and cotton and dyed with natural, plant-based dyes, which makes them more delicate than their machine-woven counterparts. Today, our rug cleaning specialists are going to share with you the best way to clean and maintain Oriental carpets and kilims, because, with proper care, these beautiful pieces can last for a lifetime.

Read also: How to Clean a Wool Rug

Oriental rugs require specific care, even for a task as simple as dusting and vacuuming.

How to Remove Dust and Dirt from Your Oriental Rug?

Whether you own a vintage Persian rug or a contemporary Turkish kilim, keeping them free from dirt and dust is important. Trapped dirt can cause permanent damage to the natural fibres of these handmade pieces and, over time, make your carpet look dingy and grimy. So, here are some tips that can help you keep your Oriental rug dust and dirt-free:

  • Vacuum regularly: We recommend hoovering your Oriental rug at least once a week, even more often if it’s placed in a high-traffic area. Regular vacuuming is necessary for every carpet, but this is especially important for Oriental rugs. 
  • Move the vacuum in the direction of the fibres: Run the vacuum head slowly toward the rug’s nap (the direction in which the fibres lie). 
  • Clean the rug’s fringe: When cleaning an Oriental carpet, paying particular attention to the fringe tassels is essential. These tassels are the most delicate part of the rug and can quickly become undone, torn, or worn out. Over time, this can cause the rug’s knots to pull away and unravel. If you want to vacuum the fringe of your Oriental rug, it’s best to use the upholstery brush attachment. This attachment is gentle and won’t suck or pull the tassels as hard as the floor head attachment, which can cause damage to the tassels.
  • Avoid using the retractable brush on the vacuum head: These attachments are usually coarse, and running them over the carpet can damage the fibres. When vacuuming, use only the floor head.
  • Get a soft-bristle brush: If there is some debris ingrained in the pile, use a soft bristle brush to loosen it before vacuuming your rug.
  • Clean the back of the rug: Flip the carpet over to expose its backside and vacuum it. You can also use a brush to loosen the dirt on the back.
  • Beating vs. Vacuuming: If you have a powerful vacuum cleaner and are concerned that it might pull and warp the fibres of your carpet, you can try the old-school method of cleaning your rug. Remove the carpet from the floor and take it outside. Then, shake and beat it gently to remove dirt and dust manually. This method is especially recommended for braided or hand-hooked rugs rather than flat weave types.

Check also: How to Choose the Best Rug for Your Living Room

If your space receives a lot of direct sunlight during the day, the colours of your Oriental rug will fade faster.

How to Preserve the Colours of Your Oriental Rug?

The beautiful colours of handmade carpets often originate from natural and plant-based dyes. For instance, ancient Persian rugs were dyed using dried, ground madder root for reds, cochineal for reds (although this was less common), indigo for blues, weld for yellow, sequential dyeing in indigo and weld for green, walnut husks for brown and camel, and other vegetal substances for other colours. Even today, many Oriental rugs are still dyed with natural materials. Compared to chemical dyes, natural dyes give the wool a shine that is hard to surpass. Moreover, the natural dyestuffs are harmless and are becoming popular again. However, these dyes are less stable than contemporary fabric dyes, so you must take certain steps to prevent the colours from fading.

  • Keep away from direct sunlight:
    • Natural dyes, such as those found in oriental rugs, are susceptible to fading when exposed to direct sunlight. UV rays take out red colours first, as well as other strong saturated colours.
    • Keep your oriental rug away from windows to prevent colour fading.
    • Consider using thick drapes to shield the rug from sunlight exposure.
  • Rotate Regularly:
    • Rotate your oriental rug periodically to ensure even wear and prevent colours from fading unevenly.
  • Get UV Blocking Window Film:
    • Covering windows with UV-blocking film provides another layer of protection against UV rays, which are a primary cause of discolouration in oriental rugs.
    • The film effectively blocks harmful UV rays while still allowing natural light into the room, preserving the rug’s vibrancy and longevity.

Read also: How to Care for a Synthetic Rug

Natural dyes give your Oriental rug luscious hues but are unstable, so stain cleaning is better left to a professional.

How to Remove a Stain From Your Oriental Rug?

Accidents happen, but when you spill something into your Moroccan, Persian, or Tabriz rug, we don’t recommend trying to remove the stain yourself. There are a few reasons why DIY spot treatment is a bad idea for Oriental rugs:

  • People tend to oversoak their rugs during DIY cleanings; however, natural fibres absorb a lot of water, leading to warping or shrinkage of the carpet when it gets dry.
  • Soaking the carpet may also cause colour bleeding.
  • If you fail to dry the carpet properly, this can lead to deterioration of the fibres and mildew.
  • Store-bought stain removal products often contain ingredients that can cause colour bleeding; for example, alkaline cleaning products dissolve unstable natural dyes.
  • Soap leaves a residue that attracts more dirt if not well-rinsed.

Still, if you DO have to spill something, here’s what to do before the cleaner arrives: 

  • Carefully scrape off any solid bits with a spoon without rubbing the carpet, as this can push the dirt deeper into the fibres.
  • Blot up excess liquid immediately with a clean, white absorbent cloth. You can also use thick paper towels.
  • Never rub, as this can spread the stain.
  • Schedule stain removal and deep cleaning service with an experienced carpet cleaner.


    • If you DO decide to use stain removal products, always test it on an inconspicuous area of the rug before applying it to the entire surface.
    • Never use harsh chemicals, bleach, or steam cleaners on any handmade rug.
    • Consult a professional rug cleaner if you’re unsure about any cleaning method.

Check also: Stain Removal Is a Matter of Chemical Reactions

Handmade wollen and silk rugs are an ideal source of food for pests’ larvae.

How to Protect Your Oriental Rug From Pests?

Oriental rugs, particularly those made of wool and silk, can be prone to pest infestations. These types of fibres are rich in protein, making them an excellent food source for carpet beetles and carpet moths. Both species are widespread pests and can cause significant damage to rugs, carpets, kilims, and other natural fibre furnishings. They typically lay their eggs in dark, hard-to-reach corners of the house, such as behind furniture. Once the larvae hatch, they begin consuming any natural textile items nearby. Unfortunately, it’s often too late when you spot them, and the damage is done. Once Oriental rugs have been damaged, they lose their value even if repaired by professionals. Here are some tips to follow to protect your valuable Oriental carpet:

  • Vacuum regularly around the house to prevent infestations. 
  • Every now and then, check hard-to-reach spaces and the furniture around to clean and inspect for larvae.
  • Store items susceptible to pest infestation, such as food, woollens, and furs, in insect-proof containers.

Read also: Things You Can Do to Keep Your Carpets Clean

A rug care specialist can help you prolong your Oriental carpet’s life and turn it into a family heirloom.

Deep Cleaning Your Oriental Rug

Oriental rugs need deep cleaning to maintain their value. We recommend professional carpet cleaning at least once every two years, more frequently if the rug is placed in a high-traffic area. Certified rug cleaners have the expertise and equipment to handle deep cleaning, stain removal, and fringe care, ensuring your carpet retains its vibrancy. So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need deep cleaning or stain removal for your Oriental rug

By following these simple tips, you can ensure your treasured Persian, Moroccan, or Tabriz rug continues to bring you joy for years.