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Navajo Rugs: Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Updated: Apr 25


navajo rugs drying
Navajo rugs drying


Maintaining a Navajo textiles beauty requires specific knowledge and techniques. This article delivers straightforward advice on the care of Navajo's, from cleaning best practices to preventing damage, equipping you with the tools to protect these storied weaves.



Key Takeaways

  • Navajo are significant artifacts of cultural heritage that require special maintenance, with vacuuming, spot cleaning, and rug rotation being essential regular care procedures.

  • Being all wool, pests such as moths and carpet beetles are a threat to Navajo, and protective measures should include regular vacuuming, using cedar or Tyvek wrapping for storage, and professional treatment in case of infestation. Getting a Navajo dry cleaned is effective too.

  • Professional cleaning is recommended for heavily soiled or damaged Navajo rugs, but with the right knowledge and tools, careful DIY cleaning and maintenance are possible to preserve the rug's beauty.


Understanding Navajo Rugs

The art of Navajo weaving with wool began around 1700, becoming a significant aspect of the Navajo people's economic and artistic expression. The transition from Navajo blankets to wool rugs in the late 19th century brought a much-needed industry to the Navajo people while capitalizing on the popularity of Oriental rugs. The use of warp threads in the weaving process contributed to the unique patterns and durability of these Navajo rugs.

Different styles of Navajo are associated with specific regions on the Navajo reservation, a development influenced by trading post owners' preferences. The earliest Navajo blankets were characterized by natural wool colors with indigo blue accents from natural dyes. Over time, the designs grew more complex, and the color palette expanded with the introduction of aniline dyes and red fabrics from Europe.

This rich history and artistic progression have made Navajo rugs more than just carpets; they are a testament to the Navajo people's resilience, creativity, and cultural heritage.


Caring for Your Navajo Rug

With their bold designs and often cultural significance, they require special care to maintain their beauty and integrity. Regular maintenance, including vacuuming, spot cleaning, and rug rotation, is essential to preserving these unique pieces of art.

Let's delve into these procedures in more detail, considering the impact of direct light.


Vacuuming Techniques

Regular vacuuming is the best method to keep Navajo rugs dust-free and maintain their cleanliness by removing dust particles. However, it's crucial to use a vacuum with a smooth floor suction-only attachment to gently clean these rugs without causing damage. Adjusting the vacuum to medium or low suction can prevent damage by reducing powerful suction.

Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your Navajo weavings:

  • Avoid the use of a stiff brush, which can cause fuzzing of the carpet fibers.

  • For old or frayed Navajo, using a piece of window screen between the rug and vacuum can prevent further damage.

  • If your vacuum has a beater bar, set the bar adjustment to the highest setting so the brush doesn't touch the rug.

Spot Cleaning Methods

Spot cleaning is an essential part of Navajo maintenance. However, before you start, it's best to test the cleaner on a small hidden section of the rug to check for colorfastness. Using low-pH detergents and cool water for regular spot cleaning helps preserve the dyes and prevents potential damage.


Certain substances, like paint and pet urine, require careful removal to prevent damage to both the colors and fibers of Navajos. Additionally, food stains and molds can corrode the fibers, turning white wools to a dirty gray color. Therefore, addressing these issues promptly is crucial to maintain the rug's integrity.


Rug Rotation Tips

Rotating your Navajo one to two times per year ensures even wear and balanced fabric and color exposure. For rugs placed in sunny rooms, rotating them every two to three months can prevent uneven color fading.


When conducting rotation, alternate between flipping the rug front to back and top to bottom. The rug's design, particularly if it has pictorial elements, should be considered during rotation. This simple maintenance step can significantly extend the life and enhance the beauty of your Navajo rug.


Preventing Damage from Pests

Pests such as moths, rodents, and carpet beetles pose significant threats to Navajo rugs. Here are some tips to prevent damage from these pests:

  • Regularly vacuum of rugs to remove dirt and dust particles.

  • Air out rugs over a chair outside helps keep them fresh during rotation

  • When storing, cedar chests can deter moths and insect activity, but its always best to wrap rug to be sure.

  • When wraping rugs always use a breathable fabric like paper or Tyvek to block insect and dust access to textiles.

Following these steps can help protect your Navajo rugs from pests.

In case of an infestation, including moth eggs, freezing the rug for at least 24 hours or ironing it on a steam setting can treat or reduce a moth infestation. Professional cleaning and dry cleaning. However, mothballs should not be in direct contact with the rugs, as they can discolor and damage textiles. Also, be aware that mothballs leave a residual smell that may require and aditional rug cleaning or dry cleaning to remove mothball smell from wool.


Displaying Navajo Rugs

Displaying Navajo rugs not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your space but also pays homage to the rich cultural heritage they represent. For wall displays, use male Velcro on a finished board and attach the soft Velcro hand-sewn to the textile.

To avoid damage, consider the following steps for hanging a rug:

  1. Have a professional sew the Velcro to the rug, leaving the plastic backing on to prevent permanent attachment.

  2. Use a board that is slightly shorter than the rug for mounting.

  3. Install eye screws on the board for hanging.

  4. When possible minimize exposure to direct light to minimize sun fadding.

By following these steps, you can safely hang your rug without causing any damage.

This way, you can appreciate your Navajo rug as the perfect rug, a work of art without compromising its longevity.


Storing Navajo Rugs Safely

When not in use, Navajo rugs should be stored properly to prevent damage. Ideally, the rugs should be rolled, not folded, to prevent creasing. Once rolled, wrap them in a breathable covering like fine cotton cloth, paper, or Tyvek to protect against insects, dust, and environmental damage.

Never store Navajo rugs unwrapped or on the floor. The cold of a concrete floor or a small water leak can result in mildew damage. Storing these rugs safely preserves their beauty and integrity for years to come.


Professional Cleaning and Restoration Services

While regular at-home maintenance can keep your Navajo rugs in good condition, professional rug cleaning is recommended after years of floor use, especially for heavily soiled or damaged rugs. Choose a professional rug cleaner who specialize in Persian, Oriental, or Navajo weavings have the expertise to ensure your rug's optimal care and restoration. Frequncie of rug washing vary by use and location.

Sometimes, dry cleaning can be suitable. However, rugs with heavy soiling and pet accidents respond best to professional rug cleaing. To properly clean your Navajo rug, entrusting it to professionals who specialize in rug cleaning can provide both expertise and assurance that your precious artifact is in good hands.


Never machine wash Navajo rugs fibers can felt and dyes can bleed in washing machines.


Keep an eye on the corners and for any damage. Small fries addressed promptly save money from larger, more costly repairs. When in need of repair seek out experince restration professionals that have an understanding of navojo's and proper repair techniques.



Navajo's hide soil well the transtional third phase style navajo didn't look that dirty when dry.


DIY Home Cleaning Solutions

For those who prefer hands-on maintenance, home cleaning of Navajo rugs is possible with the right techniques and tools. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Use a neutral detergent, or rug cleaner such as Planet or Seventh Generation, for home cleaning.

  2. Hand wash the rug with a solution of cold water.

  3. Rinse the rug with cool water to maintain the integrity of the fibers.

To spot clean your Navajo rug, follow these steps:

  1. Use products specially formulated for natural fiber or wool carpets, avoiding products that may cause color loss or damage to the wool.

  2. After cleaning, squeeze out excess water gently.

  3. Hang the rug outdoors, where air can circulate freely without direct heat, to preserve the fibers.


These DIY solutions can help maintain your Navajo rug's cleanliness and beauty between professional cleanings, using cleaning products you may already have at home. Simply use a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface of the rug.


Common Causes of Damage to Navajo Rugs

Like any wool rug various factors can damage Navajo rugs, including direct sunlight, which can fade colors and structurally damage the rug fibers over time. Spot cleaning with carpet cleaning products made for synthetic fibers

Navajo rugs should not be machine washed, subjected to steam clean, or ironed, as these methods can compromise their integrity. Physical damage from untrained pets or pointed furniture legs is another common issue.

Finally, improper home cleaning methods can cause color run and damage the rugs. Being aware of these common causes of damage can help you in your endeavor to preserve your Navajo rugs.



Moth damaged Navajo repair


Summary

Navajo rugs are more than just home décor; they are historical artifacts, art pieces, and cultural symbols. Understanding their history and artistic significance is the first step to appreciating their value. Proper care, including regular vacuuming, spot cleaning, rug rotation, and pest prevention, can significantly prolong their lifespan.

Professional cleaning and restoration services provide the best way to care for heavily soiled or damaged rugs. However, with the right tools and techniques, at-home cleaning can also help maintain their beauty. Proper display and safe storage are also crucial in preserving these priceless artifacts. Remember, preserving a Navajo rug is preserving a piece of history.


Frequently Asked Questions


How often should I vacuum my Navajo rug?

You should vacuum your Navajo rug regularly to keep it dust-free and clean. Additionally, reversing it end to end can help even out foot traffic.


Can I machine wash my Navajo rug?

No, machine washing, steam cleaning, Navajo rugs can compromise their integrity cause color run and damage and should be avoided.


How should I store my Navajo rug?

To store your Navajo rug, roll it instead of folding to prevent creasing, and then wrap it in breathable materials like fine cotton cloth or Tyvek to protect it from insects and environmental damage.


Can I display my Navajo rug on a wall?

Yes, you can display your Navajo rug on a wall the best way is using male Velcro on a finished board with the soft Velcro hand-sewn to the textile to prevent damage.


What are the common causes of damage to Navajo rugs?

To protect Navajo rugs from damage, avoid direct sunlight, excessive heat, improper cleaning methods, untrained pets, and pointed furniture legs. These factors can lead to deterioration and reduce the lifespan of the rugs.






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