Caring for antique and area rugs requires more than a vacuum like caring for wall-to-wall carpet. Instead, antique and area rugs often require special treatments, and caring for them well will help them stay in great condition for many years. This is largely due to the rough brushes that modern vacuums have, which can hurt the delicate fibers.

The special treatment could mean something as simple as shaking it outside, or having it dry cleaned to protect the color rich materials.

Antique and area rugs include the following materials, all with particular needs when cleaning:

  • Flat-woven
  • Oriental
  • Wool, silk, or rayon pile
  • Shag
  • Jute
  • Sisal and split cane

Regardless of material, it’s easier than you think to care for your home’s rugs!

Caring for Flat-Woven Rugs

Flat-woven Dhurrie or Navajo rugs are reversible, tightly woven, and built to withstand years of use. These long-wearing rugs can be vacuumed. If it’s small enough, you can shake it outside, or use a soft brush to remove dust and grime.

If your flat-woven rug is color fast, then you can wash it by hand. (Not sure if it’s colorfast? Blot a small, inconspicuous area of the rug with a damp white towel. If the color transfers to the towel, then it’s not colorfast.)

Handwashing an area rug is a simple process. Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and soap powder. Agitate the water and the rug slightly to remove the dust, then rinse clean.

Make sure to dry your rug flat to dry. While wet, gently shape it and let it air-dry.


Download your copy by clicking on the image above.


Caring for Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs require special care. Many older rugs were handmade, most newer ones are machine woven.  The majority of Oriental rugs made after about 1920 use synthetic dyes. However newer rugs from certain areas are not colorfast.

Most larger Oriental rugs are fine to vacuum regularly. But do not run over the fringe with the vacuum.

When cleaning the fringe, place an old nylon stocking or other thin material over the nozzle attachment. This will help prevent the vacuum from fraying and damaging the fringe.

Use extra care when vacuuming your small rugs to avoid the vacuum from sucking the rung into the nozzle. If your oriental rug is small, you can hang it over a clothes line and use a small brush (or gently use a rug beater) to dust it. Depending on where your oriental carpet is within your home, you may find grease stains on it. You can try using a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, but it is best to have this rug cleaned professionally.

It’s also important to schedule a professional cleaning for your oriental rug, typically every one to three years. If the rug is in a higher traffic area of your home, you’ll likely need to clean it more often. Traditional rug cleaners remove your rugs and wash them at their cleaning plant, usually requiring 2-3 weeks for the process.  CitruSolution cleans your rugs in your home, avoiding the inconvenience of not having them.

CitruSolution Pro Tip: Oriental Rug Labeling

Unfortunately, some labels on oriental rugs don’t include all the materials present. Some backing material may have fibers like cotton or a synthetic, even if the rug says “100% wool.” A professional carpet cleaning company will be able to tell the difference, so you can rest assured your oriental rug will be cleaned safely.  Citrusolution’s unique formula is safe to use on all your colorfast oriental rugs, which we can safely clean in your home.

Caring for Wool, Silk, or Rayon Pile Rugs

The cleaning process will vary by your pile rugs’ composition. Wool pile rugs can generally be wet-cleaned, but do not use home carpet cleaning or grocery store rental machines. Avoid “extraction” cleaning of any Oriental rug.

Caring for Shag and Frieze Carpets

While shag carpets may not be as popular as they were in the 70s, they can still make a great statement piece in your home. More common today is Frieze that looks like shag with a shorter pile. Shag and Frieze carpets have a high-pile, meaning the individual strands are longer. (i.e., shaggier.)

You’ll want to avoid vacuuming with an upright vacuum with a rotating brush, because it can get damage the pile. To prevent this, use it with the suction function only.

A carpet rake will help loosen tangles, and can be found at retailers. If you choose to vacuum your shag or Frieze rugs, you can also use a carpet rake afterwards to ensure the pile is lying in the right direction.

 Caring for Jute Rugs

Jute rugs can provide a great addition to your home’s aesthetic, but the unique fiber composition is very difficult to clean. To remove dust, you can vacuum it regularly.

If it gets stained, white vinegar mixed half and half with water.  Blot the area with a dampened cloth, then dry using a soft cloth, such as terry cloth, to absorb the moisture. Don’t rub, though! That can damage the fibers. As always, test on an inconspicuous area. The side or back is often just the spot to test before cleaning the stain.

Caring for Sisal and Split-Cane Rugs

Sisal and split-cane rugs are made from plant fibers, and may have a rubber backing. These can be vacuumed as needed to remove any debris that’s caught between fibers. If there’s a spill, make sure to blot excess liquid away.

While this is an effective way to clean sisal rugs, it’s important to note that the moisture may darken the color and it could stay that color after you’ve cleaned it. Because dust in area rugs can affect allergies, it is best to vacuum frequently.

Caring for antique and area rugs may seem complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. They can provide a beautiful addition to your home, and you want them to remain in top condition for many years. With this guide you’ll be confident and ready to clean your home’s rugs, regardless of material.

If you’re looking for a professional antique and area rug cleaning company in the Nashville area, we’d love to share our process with you. Our water-based, non-toxic products and gentle cleaning helps restore your antique and area rugs to their original condition without harmful chemicals. Our owner cleans his own Oriental rugs using CitruSolution, one of which is at least 70 years old! Give us a call at 615-333-8977 for our inclusive price quote.