Antique Rug and Carpet Care
An antique Persian rug or carpet, as with any valuable art object, needs
periodic care to assure lasting beauty and value. By taking a few
simple precautions, your older carpet, whether it's a 70-year-old
vintage rug or an antique carpet at one hundred years old or more, can
be preserved in good floor condition into the next generation.
The finest older Persian carpets utilized lanolin-rich wool which has amazing stain repellent properties.
If a spill is dealt with immediately, often it can be easily blotted up
before staining occurs. Use a moist, clean cloth to blot from the edges
toward the center of the spill. If soap is needed, use hair shampoo, as
the protein of wool is similar to human hair. Do not scrub, as this
will embed the stain more deeply into the wool. Then elevate the damp
area on a short stool or box for quick air drying. Avoid allowing your
carpet to sit damp for an extended period of time, as this could
possibly rot the cotton foundation.
We strongly advise against using home remedies for stain removal, as they can cause irreversible dye run and discoloration, and chemicals should never be used. If the above method is not effective, consult a professional oriental carpet cleaner for spot cleaning.
Potted plants should never be placed on top of the carpet,
even with a water basin beneath the pot, as it is still possible for
moisture that collects under even a leak-proof pot to infiltrate the
carpet, causing considerable, irreversible mildew damage to the
carpet's cotton foundation.
Red wine stains often can be safely lifted
by first blotting up the liquid without rubbing using dry towels. Then
make a solution of one quart water with 2-3 drops ONLY of mild unscented colorless
detergent like Ivory Soap and 1-2 teaspoons of plain white vinegar (NOT
apple cider vinegar). Rinse lightly with this solution. Now blot up
again with dry towels. Then rinse with plain water, a little more if
needed. Elevate the moist area of the rug and air dry with a fan for
24-48 hours, not just dry to touch, but so that the foundation as well
as the pile is dry.
Rugs which have been flooded accidentally need to be attended to immediately.
Smaller rugs can be taken outside and spread on a lawn or hung over a
railing to dry in the sunlight. For larger rugs, a water vacuum
can be used, followed by the use of space heaters or a hair dryer.
Again, the carpet must be dry, back and front, so elevation is
advised. Often, having the rug professionally washed and dried
within several days is advisable. Please do not hesitate to call
us for advice at 1-800-441-1332.
The wool of the Persian carpet is lustrous, durable, and rich in natural
lanolin. It is best to interfere as little as possible with this
natural protection, so please avoid treatments such as
moth-proofing, dry cleaning or steam cleaning. Instead, have most older
carpets hand-washed or tumbled by a professional oriental carpet
cleaner every five to six years, or sooner if needed. Tumbling
in a large machine similar to a clothes dryer is a gentle process that
removes dirt and dust particles which penetrate to the base of the pile
of the rug and have an abrasive effect on the wool fibers. The tumbling
process is recommended for older or less sturdy carpets, since it puts
less strain on the structure of an antique carpet than submersion in
For carpets with lower pile, daily or weekly cleaning should be accomplished with a non-electric sweeper rather than a suction vacuum cleaner.
Modern carpet sweepers work via static electricity and are very
effective in cleaning the surface and into the pile of your rugs, as
well as in bringing out the sheen of the wool. We have found the Hoky
carpet sweeper to be the most effective. Electric vacuum cleaners should never be used on antique rugs.
A vacuum cleaner with suction may be used only on heavy-pile vintage or
younger rugs. Never use the beater brush on any handwoven rugs, as its rotary action is far too rough and can pull out knots and fray out the wrapped selvedge edges.
A broom with straw bristles is another option if a carpet sweeper is
unavailable. With a carpet sweeper or broom, your rug can be cleaned as
often as you wish. At least once a week is recommended.
We strongly recommend use of a high-quality pad under your older carpet
whether it is on a wood, stone or carpeted floor. A firm pad extends
the life of a rug by cushioning it from below and preventing sliding,
wrinkling, and stretching, as well as possible punctures from furniture
legs. A padded rug is also more enjoyable underfoot and provides better
Although the dyes used in high quality, older carpets are usually quite impervious to extreme fading, precautions must be taken against prolonged daily exposure to strong, direct sunlight.
If closing the draperies during the periods of strongest sunlight will
interfere with the view or the lighting effect you wish to create in
your room, we recommend screening your windows with a clear plastic
film. With trade names such as V-Kool and 3-M Mylar, these products are
quite effective in eliminating the damaging effect of ultraviolet rays
with virtually no color distortion to your window glass. We advise
rotating your rug 180 degrees either annually or bi-annually to
equalize the naturally softening effect of sunlight and the gradual
wear of foot traffic.
An old English butler, when asked the best way to protect woolens against
moths, replied, “regular fussing in the wardrobe.” Our advice is
similar: regular carpet sweeping is your best insurance against moth damage. Moths seldom are attracted to an oriental carpet which is clean and in use.
It is important to include in your carpet sweeping agenda periodic
cleaning underneath or behind furniture, since moths prefer low light
and undisturbed areas. Carpets hung on the wall should definitely be
taken down and shaken or vacuumed at least three times per year.
Commercial moth-proofing formulas are not recommended.
The use of cedar chips or a cedar-lined trunk or closet is effective for
short-term storage. Carpets that will be stored for a period of months
should be professionally packed to prohibit moth and mildew damage.
For heavy furniture placed on your carpet, furniture cups are helpful in preventing the crushing of the carpet’s pile.
Furniture can also be regularly shifted a few inches back and forward,
or from side to side to minimize point of contact wear. Avoid
dragging heavy furniture across an antique, as it can snag or even tear
At Claremont Rug Company, we have many years of experience in assisting
our clients in selecting and maintaining antique and vintage oriental
carpets for both home and office settings. Even antique carpets
150 years old or older can be lived on very successfully by families
with children and animals, if the piece is of high quality materials
and construction, and the care instructions outlined here are followed.
STORING A CARPET:
- Professionally hand wash rug before storing. Moths are less attracted to clean rugs.
- DO NOT wrap in PLASTIC. Wrapping a rug in plastic may create moisture condensation, which can
cause mildew. Instead, roll the rug tube-style. In some
cases, it is acceptable to vertically fold the rug, then wrap in Tyvek
paper, which is moisture-resistant, acid-free and archival. If the rug
is well-wrapped, we rarely see moth damage.
- Use plenty of tape
on the roll to make sure all seams are covered. One can put
mothballs in a cloth, similar to a sachet, and put them in the areas
where moths may enter: at the ends of the roll and along the
center of the rug if it is folded.
- The major problem comes from moisture.
Try to elevate the rug from the floor rather than storing it on a
concrete slab floor. Do not store in the attic because
temperatures can be too high. Look for a stable temperature
- We do not recommend pesticide sprays
because they are toxic and acidic and can be harmful to rugs. If
you have a moth-concentrated environment, there are some sprays that
can be used.
- Guarding against rats and mice
is hard because they can eat through the paper. The best advice
it to store the rug in a clean environment. To ensure effectiveness,
mothballs should be changed every 6 months as their strength dissipates
Jan David Winitz, President and Founder of Claremont Rug Company in Oakland, CA, has built a global reputation among carpet collectors and connoisseurs since he founded the company-at age 25-in 1980. Born into a New York family of art collectors and scientists, "Winitz inherited two things from his grandmother: a collection of great rugs and a love of art." (Financial Times). His stated vision was, "to introduce fine families to antique carpets possessing equal or greater artistic magnitude as works of art usually displayed on the wall." Claremont Rug Company continues to be a leading source of 19th century museum-level Oriental carpets in the world. The author of "The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug," Winitz has an international clientele for whom antiques are a great passion.