Caring for Carpets – Sandy Roald Smeets

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August 20, 2012 by sandyroaldsmeetsrugs

This image was created as part of the Philip G...

This image was created as part of the Philip Greenspun illustration project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vacuuming your oriental rugs is the BEST thing that you can do to keep your rugs in great shape in between cleanings.

Think of all the dust that daily settles on to your hard floors, that same dust settles on your rugs and needs to be removed also, otherwise it works its way into the fibers and causes damage you cannot correct. However, you do not want to overly “brush” these fibers, so the best tool to use is a canister vacuum cleaner, or the upholstery attachment on your upright HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner, and just run it over the top of the rug fibers. Vacuum WITH, not against, the nap of the rug’s “fuzzy” side. (The rug’s fibers are similar to your pet’s fur – you know when you are petting with the nap, and when you are not. Going “with” it causes less friction.)

If a lot of dirt seems to be collecting on the rug – like on your entryway rugs – then turn these rugs fuzzy side down and run an upright beater bar vacuum along the back side (stay away from the fringe tassels or you’ll suck them up!). This “shakes” the dirt out of the base of the rug’s foundation, and then you can flip the rug over and vacuum away all of the dust, dirt, allergens, mold spores, bacteria, and other “unmentionables” that have been brought into your home by lots of shoes, feet and paws.

Entry rugs with high traffic should be “dusted” twice a week (or more) with your canister or upholstery attachment. Rugs with moderate traffic should be dusted weekly. Even rugs in areas with no traffic will still have dust settling on them daily, so attend to them bi-weekly. A consistent dusting routine will help keep your rugs cleaner and healthier longer. It will also (especially when using a HEPA-filter vacuum) help keep your indoor air cleaner.
SPOTS and SPILLS

Persian Rug MedalianThere will come a time when you will spill something on your rug, and the question will come to mind – “what should I do?” Rug fibers, especially wool, are very resilient to spills … but they are also very reactive to harsh chemicals … so you want to keep your spill system quick, simple, and safe.
Puppy Puddles. Kitty Catastrophes.

Add to Rug First-Aid Kit: Vinegar and Nature’s Miracle® enzyme treatment (sold in pet stores)
Of all the possible spills to happen to your rugs, pet urine and pet vomit are the worst. Because they go on hot and acidic, they actually re-dye the fibers, and “set” them at the same time – so if you are not quick these will become permanent stains that will devalue your rug. You need to follow the spill steps in the previous section (blot, rinse, blot). If the rug has dyes that show up in the towel in the first blotting step, then substitute a 50/50 Vinegar and water mixture for the Club Soda AND get the area only slightly damp – NOT wet. For pet feces, you must pick up as much as you can before you begin the Club Soda process.

As far as the odors associated with all of these pet “emergencies,” misting Nature’s Miracle® on the areas helps to remove some of the odor-causing bacteria. Resist the urge to saturate the rug with Nature’s Miracle®, because pouring any product on a rug is never a good idea. With pet urine, if it is a substantial amount then it has (because it’s hot and acidic) penetrated the wool or silk fibers and has been absorbed into the rug’s cotton foundation. In this case, the only way you will be able to remove the odor will be to have the rug get a bath and be soaked completely in an enzyme solution. You need to find a rug specialist to do this.

A different set of problems arises with “old” pet urine stains. When a pet urine stain is “fresh” it is a strong acid stain. After it has dried completely, and has sat in the fibers for several days, it becomes a strong alkaline stain. The problem with high alkalinity and wool is that it yellows the wool, and it also counteracts the mordant process that holds the dyes on to the wool fibers. It essentially makes the dyes “dissolve.” Even a rug with colorfast dyes will bleed and fade in areas that have old pet urine stains. So, the key in handling all pet stains is getting to the area as soon as you can (and use the spill steps so that you can minimize the damage).

Protector Chemicals (like ScotchGuard®) will not protect your rugs from pet stains, and actually, some have a high alkaline pH that can cause yellowing and dye migration with certain rugs. The school of thought in the “rug world” is that adding any chemical agent into a rug’s fibers is not a good choice for the rug or for the kids or pets that may lay or play on these rugs.

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