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Can My Oriental Rugs Be Steam Cleaned Like My Home Wall-To-Wall

No matter how clean and fastidious you are, the time comes when your rug needs to be cleaned. There are different types of cleaning, and some, such as steam cleaning, can be harmful and damaging to wool area rugs. 


​Most people are familiar with carpet hot water or steam cleaning machines. Two-part machines spray water on your carpet and use a powerful vacuum to suck up the water and soiling. 

Is cleaning your oriental rug that easy? Perhaps you've even rented a home carpet cleaning machine from Home Depot or a rug doctor.


Do these cleaning systems work well for Oriental rug cleaning or area rug in your home?


It's important to understand that extraction cleaning systems and carpet shampoo machines were developed to clean in-home wall-to-wall carpets. Today these systems with hot water and strong cleaning chemicals are made with cleaning synthetic face pile yarns of nylon, polyester, and backings of polypropylene held together with carpet glues, Not wool oriental carpets, and natural dyes. 


The key takeaway, Hot water extraction cleaning method was developed for synthetic fibers, not wool or silk Oriental rugs. Since wool and silk rugs are highly water absorbent, these carpet extraction systems recapture much less water sprayed on natural fiber rugs than synthetic carpets. Additionally, natural fibers need a controlled temperature and humidity-controlled environment to dry 

Rug cleaning and carpet cleaning what's the difference?

 Over time the manufacturers of wall-to-wall carpets adjusted their products to make for more efficient hot water extraction cleaning. As well as the cleaning chemistry used to clean synthetic wall-to-wall carpets. These carpets can tolerate high temperatures and strong cleaning products, they were made for it. 

Meanwhile, the weaving of handmade carpets and the methods and materials used have remained relatively constant for thousands of years.

Highly mosture absorbent natural fibers such as wool, silk, cotton, and linen are also sensitive to strong cleaning products and cleaning residues. Many of the chemicals used in modern carpet cleaning are not compatible with natural fibers. 

Oriental rugs and area carpets need specialized cleaning 

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Can I Clean My Oriental Rugs At Home?

It is possible to clean some rugs at home, but the effectiveness is the issue. Natural fibers found in handwoven rugs are absorbent, and a wet rug can weigh seven times its dry weight when wet. This makes moving and drying a wet rug challenging in a home environment home.

Rug drying is critical, and homes lack the specialized equipment to get rugs to dry fast and efficiently, resulting in other issues such as soil wicking, color run, mold, and mildew growth.

Professional rug cleaners are set up to deal with the variables found in handwoven rugs. The cleaning is often adjusted to fit a rug's specific issues. The rug cleaning process takes more time than steam cleaning, and the equipment used in modern wash plants cannot be used or approximated with in-home carpet rental machines or commercial steam cleaning. Woven oriental rugs benefit from soaking to release deeply embedded soils not possible with hot water extraction cleaning. Our state-of-the-art rug cleaning facility is not portable for home use. 


We have seen many rugs with damage from steam cleaning and DYI home cleaning gone wrong by using aggressive cleaning products or moldy rugs from an inability to get rugs dry promptly. If you choose to clean your rug at home, make sure the cleaning products are wool-safe cleaning formulations.


Many issues we see with improper rug cleaning are compounded by cleaning products and stain removers designed for synthetic carpets. These cleaning products are not intended for natural fibers like wool and result in damage to dyes and, in some cases, set existing stains.

These issues are driven by inexperience and trying to adopt technologies and chemicals intended for carpet cleaning but applied to wool rug cleaning. 

What Is A Rug Cleaning Specialist

Search Google, and you might stumble upon a rug specialist. 

 Renaissance Rug Cleaning was founded in 1999 as a rug-specific focused workshop. Today Renaissance is one of a small number of rug cleaners across the country that focus exclusively on the care of central Asian textiles and rugs. Our particular focus and expertise are on handwoven Oriental rugs. We are dedicated to the proper care of woven textiles; perhaps a dozen specialty-focused rug cleaners exist in North America.

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