How to Clean Oriental Rugs and Carpets

Posted by admin 14/07/2015 34 Comment(s)

NOTE: We are accepting repair and cleaning of Oriental rugs and Carpets. We clean and service Oriental rugs for many dealers, and can provide the same services to private customers. We've been in busines for many years, and have an excellent reputation in the rug trade. Visit our Rug Repair and Cleaning page here.

The best way to keep a rug clean is to keep it from getting dirty in the first place. Removing outdoor shoes when entering the house (as people do in most rug-weaving countries) is a good idea if this accords with your lifestyle. Bare-foot or sock-foot traffic is much gentler to a rug than a hard outdoor-shoe sole (or spike heel), and leaving your outdoor shoes at the entrance to the house tracks in much less dirt.

Have your rug cleaned only when it really needs it. For rugs in some areas this will mean a yearly cleaning. Rugs in other areas can go several years and more without needing professional cleaning.

To judge how dirty a rug is, try one of these methods:

  1. Pick up a corner of the rug and while holding it, kick the back of the rug sharply. If a cloud of dirt flies out of the pile, the rug is dirty and needs cleaning. NOTE: some dust and wool fibers are normal!
  2. Kneel down on the rug and rub the pile vigorously with your hand in a short arc for 5 to 10 seconds. Look at your fingers and palm: if your hand is dirty, the rug needs cleaning.
  3. With the pile facing UP fold part of the rug back upon itself so that the pile opens along a line of knots. Look down into the base of the pile at the foundation of the rug. If the warp and weft look dirty, there is dirt deep in the pile where a home vacuum cleaner cannot reach it. The rug needs cleaning.

Clean It Yourself

It's easy to clean small rugs yourself. The process is best done in a utility room or garage (on a clean floor) or outside on a clean driveway or paved walk on a nice, sunny day:

  • Vacuum both sides well.
  • Shampoo the rug with cool water and mild liquid soap or rug shampoo (don't use strong detergents, ammonia water or sudsy ammonia water). TEST FOR COLOR RUN IN A SMALL AREA FIRST. Use a soft, long haired brush or a firm, non-shedding sponge. Brush the pile firmly with linear motions in the direction of the nap: don't scrub too vigorously. Wet the nap thoroughly with the soapy water.
  • Wash fringes with the same soap solution. Use a laundry brush and brush repeatedly away from the pile.
  • Rinse thoroughly with running water.
  • Squeeze out excess water--a rubber window squeegee works well. Squeegee the pile repeatedly in the direction of the nap until no more water is forced out.
  • Lay flat to dry. When the nap feels dry, turn the rug over; the back is probably still damp. DRY THOROUGHLY.
  • If the pile feels a bit stiff when dry, brush gently or lightly vacuum.
  • Rug First Aid.... 

    Always try to work on the spill so as not to increase the area of the spill. 

    Food spills/Pet urine
    Of the most common spills, urine presents the most severe problem. It can cause severe color run in the rug, and the odor can be very hard to remove or disguise. Urine can also chemically damage the structure of a rug by making the foundation hard and less supple, and the presence of urine in a rug can help attract moths. Repeated wettings can cause the foundation of the rug to loose mechanical strength to the point where the rug cracks and breaks when rolled or folded.


    In case of a food spill or urine on a rug, the problem is much more easily handled if the spot is treated promptly, before the spill is allowed to dry. Blot up as much liquid as possible with paper towels or a clean, white cloth. Try to rinse out as much of the spill as possible.

    A smaller rug can be taken outside and rinsed with a hose and cool water (try not to saturate the whole rug--it will take much longer to dry if you do). With a larger carpet, the corner or edge can be laid in a plastic dishpan and saturated with cool water or a bucket or plastic garbage can can be placed under the wet area of the carpet and cool water poured through the rug (make a hollow in the carpet over the container before you pour, and don't exceed the capacity of the container under the rug!). Add about 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon to the rinse water--vinegar helps prevent colors from running and will help neutralize the urine odor.

    After the rug has been rinsed, blot dry and sponge with rug shampoo or with the solution given below. Let dry thoroughly (drying a wet area of a larger carpet can be hastened by arranging the carpet so that air can circulate both top and bottom--drape the end of the carpet across a lawn chair, or put a sawhorse or painted bench under the rug in the area of the wet spot).

    Pet stool, regurgitation
    If a pet regurgitates on a rug, you are faced with removing a complex mixture of foodstuffs, saliva, and stomach acids. Depending on the foods involved, this mixture can actually work as a dilute dye to stain the pile a different hue. If a pet regurgitates or defecates on a rug, clean the area immediately by picking up as much material as possible with paper towels or with a clean, white cloth. If necessary, use a tablespoon to scrape up all the foreign material. Blot the area dry and immediately sponge several times with rug shampoo or with the cleaning solution listed below. Don't scrub hard--too much manipulation of the pile can spread the stain. Sponge in the direction of the nap.

    Spot Cleaning Solution


  • 1/4 cup white vinegar*

  • 1/2 tsp liquid dishwashing detergent

  • 2 cups tepid water

  • *Most Oriental rug dyes are acid-fast. By adding a little white vinegar to the wash water you make the wash water more acidic, and this reinforces the bond between the dyestuff and the wool in the rug, and so helps prevent the colors from running.

    Finally, sponge the area with cool, clean water to finish. Use absorbent towels or a firm, non-shedding sponge. Don't use a brush so stiff that it pulls fibers from the pile. Don't scrub hard at the pile. Sponge in the direction of the nap. Place some towels under the spot to keep floor or pad from getting wet. Dry thoroughly. When the nap feels dry, check the back of the rug to be sure the area is completely dry.

    34 Comment(s)

    Deanna R. Jones:

    My new puppy got urine on my nice oriental rug, so these tips are great to know to help me get the stains out without damaging my rug. It's a smaller rug, so I'll try washing it outside with a hose and cold water without getting the entire rug wet. Adding vinegar seems like it will do the trick, so I'll make sure to keep track of how much water I use for the one cup of vinegar to every gallon of water ratio. Thanks for the tips!

    Chase Wilson:
    28/08/2015, 07:49:44 AM,

    Interesting! That seems pretty simple honestly! That is good news because not knowing how to clean it was my only hang up with buying one immediately as we got into our house. I want to get a rug in person, I am not sure I would want to order something that big. Anywhere you can recommend in Toronto?

    Matthew Bourdon:
    08/09/2015, 11:14:39 AM

    Hello Chase, Thanks for the comments on our blog about rug cleaning. I see you had a question about where would we recommend you go to look for rugs in Toronto. I wish I had a good recommendation for you. Unfortunately we are not as knowledgeable about retailers as we are with rug bazaars,carpet producers and wholesalers. However I do know that you definitely have a lot of places to choose from in your area. I am leaving here a link that lists what one place calls the top ten rug places in Toronto. Here it is... /the_top_10_stores_for_persian_rugs_in_toronto/ Plug this into your computer and I am sure this will be at least a good place to start. I hope you will enjoy rugs as much as I have over the years. While overwhelming as it may seem at first, it hopefully will become a lot of fun as well as a beautiful addition to your home. Enjoy the journey and if you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I am always glad to help. Matthew Bourdon, here at Jacobsens

    Paige Smith:

    This is really interesting. I did not realize that white vinegar would get the stains out of my rug so quickly. What a neat idea. Thanks for the advice.

    Kevin Sharington:
    02/09/2015, 06:00:27 AM,

    I must say this was a very precise and accurate explanation on how to proper clean oriental rugs. Coming from someone who has experience in cleaning carpets this is really great advice for the consumer. Kudos Guys!

    Daniela Adams:
    15/09/2015, 12:29:30 PM,

    I have a collection of oriental rugs, and I can say, cleaning them can be tricky! You are right, cleaning the spills and spots right after the accident can really help you keep the rugs in great condition. I usually clean the spots right away, and vacuum them regularly. However, I discovered, that taking the rugs to cleaning services really helps rugs to stay in their original condition as long as possible.

    01/10/2015, 08:16:35 AM,

    I love using homemade cleaners! I will definitely be trying out this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Nora Moore:
    02/10/2015, 06:26:10 AM,

    It does sound like cleaning small rugs isn't too hard. I've never vacuumed the bottom side of a rug before, but I can see how that could help get the deepest dirt out. We should probably try this. Our rugs could use a deep clean.

    09/10/2015, 09:59:34 AM,

    This is great advice for cleaning rugs and carpets! My husband and I invested in an oriental rug a few months ago, and it's gorgeous. I just want to make sure I take proper care of it. I was considering hiring a service to clean it, but I'll do it myself after testing an inconspicuous spot first. Thanks for sharing your tips :)

    James Bay:
    27/10/2015, 06:04:30 AM,

    My oriental rug has been needing a good clean. I had no idea I could do it myself. I will need to try this out. Thank you for the information.

    Logan Murphy:
    03/11/2015, 06:01:35 AM,

    I think it's really smart to "test for color run in a small area first." I would be devastated if I was cleaning a rug for my wife and ruined the whole thing. I'll have to remember your tip of not using strong detergents or ammonia water. We have a rug that needs some cleaning and I thought I'd try it myself. Thanks for the help!

    06/11/2015, 08:57:59 AM,

    My husband came home from his business trip in Asia last summer with an oriental rug for me. However, I have no idea how to take care of it and I really want to keep it in good condition. How often should I clean it? I am curious to know how much would be too much as well.

    Matthew Bourdon:
    13/11/2015, 02:35:08 PM

    Hello Raylin, Thanks for the question. I though first apologize on getting back to you so late. I obviously missed your inquiry by accident and I again apologize for it. I enjoy answering questions and I usually try to get back within 24 hours. My big mistake and I am truly sorry. To answer your question about how often should you clean a carpet. Well the nice thing about orientals is that unless it looks or feels dirty or has had something unusual spill on it, you don't need to clean it unless you think it needs it. This can range from once a year to never. A lot depends on it's use. If it is a rug that gets a lot of traffic and gets all the snow and slush or gets a lot of dirt from outside. You might look at it or feel it and you might decided it needs cleaning once a year. Though with most carpets you don't need to clean them every year. I find that often it is four or five years before you really need to have it cleaned. If, for instance, you don't normally wear shoes in the house or if the rug is in a room that doesn't get a lot of traffic, you might find that every 10 to 15 years is fine. That again is only if the rug looks or feels dirty to you. If you have a rug hanging on a wall, chances are you will never need to clean it. In the end it is a case by case situation. Usually you can tell if your once bright rug is looking a bit dingy these days, or if you feel it and it feels a bit dirty. This eye or touch test is the best. If it looks and feels good to you, then just relax and keep enjoying it. If you have any other questions about this, just let me know. Matthew

    09/11/2015, 10:20:44 AM

    Hi, I bought a Kazak rug some months ago. It's new and not dirty but gives off rather an unpleasant smell. What can I do to solve this. I fear cleaning it, in case water makes the smell worse.

    Matthew Bourdon:
    13/11/2015, 03:02:17 PM

    Hello Josie, It seems that I owe you an apology also. As I seemed to have missed your questions along with Raylin above you. I am truly sorry about that. I am not sure how I missed your questions, but I did and I hope that I can still be of service to you. I see from your note that you purchased a new Kazak some months ago and that you finding a rather unpleasant smell coming from it. Without seeing the rug, knowing if it is handwoven or smelling the rug in person, it is hard to know for sure what is happening there. If it is handwoven and I was to take a guess, which this is. I would say it sounds as if the rug had gotten wet and one time and wasn't dried correctly. If this was the case you might have a bit of mildew in the foundation. If the foundation is cotton, then it might be this that didn't dry right. In this case, I would probably do two things. One I would contact the person or company that I got it from and see what they might have to say. Most companies should be interested in seeing what the problem is and want to help you with this. We have run across this a couple of times over the years ourselves and have either washed the rug for the person or, if for some reason the washing didn't take care of the problem, then we helped them find another rug to their liking. If you got it from an individual, then you might want to talk to them and see if they have any background on why this might be happening. They might know if the rug got wet at some time or know some other reason why you might be dealing with this. If they do and stand behind the rug they might pay to have the rug cleaned or may be willing to go halves with you in getting the rug cleaned. If the rug is a handwoven carpet, then I would get it professionally cleaned. As a professional cleaner would be best equipped to handle this problem. As there are some products or techniques they can use that should be able to tackle this for you. If the rug is hand-tufted, then the odor you could be smelling is the latex they use to hold the fibers together in the rug. If it is this, as far as I know, then there is probably nothing that can be done to get rid of the odor. I am not expert in hand-tufted, as we haven't carried it. Though in most cases I have heard, there was no getting the chemical latex smell out of the carpet. Though again, I am not an expert in the hand-tufted field and I might be missing something. I am sorry that I can't offer a more specific answer. Unfortunately with repair and cleaning, it is often a case by case situation. Though if your rug is hand-woven. The problem I talked about is the most common. Again I would either take it back to where I got and see what they can do to help or talk to the person you got it from and see what they have to offer for clues on what might be the problem. In the end, I think your rug will need to be cleaned. Though again, someone seeing it person should have a better idea. If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to contact me. I will be sure to answer in a much quicker fashion. Sincerely Matthew

    steve holt:
    30/11/2015, 03:51:45 PM,

    These tips seem really good to know to tell when I should clean my carpets and rugs. I do what I can to prevent dirt and stains from setting in my carpet and rugs, but being able to tell when they need to be cleaned will be useful. The second method for checking for dirt by rubbing the fibers vigorously with my hand in a short arc for 10 seconds seems like what I should be doing. That will let me know if there are any hidden dirt or dust particles that need to be cleaned out. Thanks for the tips!

    12/12/2015, 02:53:24 AM,

    Vacuum under area rugs periodically. This removes any loose dirt that may be trapped between the rug and your carpet.

    Emko's Carpet Cleaning Service of Bartlett, IL:
    14/12/2015, 01:38:49 AM,

    Every carpet is different. Before attempting to clean it, test a patch to see how it reacts. Certain types of cleaners may be too harsh to use, causing loss of color and/or texture. Good Luck Everyone!


    Great in depth article about how to clean and look after carpets and rugs. Great job.

    Jenkins Leroyson:
    14/12/2015, 07:03:56 AM,

    We just got our first dog and have found out that potty training can be a little hard. I agree that treating your carpet right away is really important. You don't want to let it settle and soak through. We'll be sure to be more aware of that from now on!

    Edilson Rebecca:
    17/12/2015, 03:31:37 AM,

    Happen to find your blog interesting giving out some helpful tips on how to clean oriental rugs and carpets, people who are interested to clean their favorite carpets for themselves will find tips more helpful.

    Biri Deol:
    31/12/2015, 01:49:31 AM

    Hi, I have red Bokhara 8x10 needs cleaning. Is it possible to get a quote? Also how long ones dropped at your place. Thanks Biri Cell 609 - 203-3562

    01/01/2016, 01:31:32 PM

    I recently bought a Shiraz rug which I love but every time I vacuum or brush it, it sheds a red powder & fibres and I'm worried I'm actually damaging the surface. The brushes on my dyson animal vacuum cleaner have almost disintegrated also, since vacuuming this rug. Any ideas what the red powder & fibre is? Thanks

    Matthew Bourdon:
    08/02/2016, 10:12:06 AM

    Hello Annette, I see that you recently purchased a Shiraz, but it sounds as if you are having some issues with it. Well it is hard to know for sure without seeing a rug in person. With new rugs, you can sometimes get some "fuzz" that comes off of the rug that either ends up into the vacuum or sometime shows up as dust bunnies on the floor. With new rugs you sometime have a situation where the very tips of the pile are brittle and break off when vacuuming or walking across the rug. This usually only last a short time and is caused by the final cleaning of the carpet, before being sent to the market. This is normal and the carpet is not disintegrating. As I mentioned, it should not last too long. Depending on the rug, you can see none of this happen to it lasting a couple of months. A lot depends on the carpet,and how much you use or vacuum it. Again,this is for new rugs only. This should not happen with an older carpet. In your case, I suspect there might be something different happening. You did not mention whether you bought a new rug or an older one. If it is an used or older one, you should not have this happen at all. If it is new, like I said, you can have some dust bunnies from the carpet. Though you mention a red dust and losing fibers. You also mention that the rug is damaging your vacuum. I have never heard of rug hurting a vacuum, so this might also raise a red flag for me. Unfortunately, I can't see in person. As I might have a better idea on what you are dealing with. Though because of your description, I would have someone local to you check the carpet out. If you bought it from an oriental rug dealer, I would contact them and make an appointment to have them look at it. If you bought it from an individual and it is not a friend or relative, then I would take it an oriental rug cleaner and get their opinion. Unfortunately your description does not sound like normal shedding and I would definitely have someone look into this for you. I hope that this is some help, if you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me at infor@jacobsenrugs, I am happy to help.

    Anita Mas:
    04/01/2016, 06:32:33 PM,

    If some dust and wool fibers coming out of a carpet are normal, how much would it take before you would consider the carpet dirty? I suppose I could try rubbing for that test. It may sound weird, but I've never cleaned a rug myself before. We always had carpeting growing up, so we didn't have to clean them. Now that we have hardwood floors, it has changed things.

    Matthew Bourdon:
    08/02/2016, 09:51:08 AM

    Hello Anita, I see you have a question about when is it time to clean your oriental carpet. Well the nice thing with oriental carpets is that they don't normally need a lot of upkeep. Most of the time you just walk on them and enjoy them. Though like all things in a house, usually, at some time, you need to clean them. Some things more often than others, but they all need to be cleaned. With carpets it often depends on who you talk to. There is some in the industry that say that it is good to have the rug professionally cleaned every couple of years. As the grit that can get down into the base of the rug can act as sandpaper and wear the rug prematurely. There are others that say too much cleaning is a bad thing, as it will make your rug look less distinct and fuzzy over time. I am of the personal belief that you only need to clean a carpet if it looks or feel dirty. For instance, if you have a rug in a bedroom. It is probably not getting the same wear and tear as the carpet that is by the door you come in with the groceries. This latter rug would probably need to be cleaned more often. The bedroom rug you might go many many years before cleaning it. While the one by the door might need it every four or five years. The main thing is to vacuum it and, if small enough and you are so inclined, beat the carpet outside, on some nice spring day, to get some of the grit out of the rug. That will take care of a lot of what you need to do. Then if you notice the rug looking dingy or feeling dirty, then I would take it to be cleaned. Other than that,just enjoy your carpet and tackle the other projects or things that you need or want to do. I hope that this helps, if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask me at

    carpet cleaning Sydney:

    your carpet cleaning is very nice and explaining the concept is very well. thanks for sharing with us.

    Michael L. Baldwin:
    31/01/2016, 09:46:01 AM,

    Awesome. I have a big rug in my room and I always wonder whether it's easy to clean or not, or do I need to wash it...etc. But thanks for your instruction. that helps a lot.

    Alexandra Miles:

    I was looking for a recipe of a homemade detergent, and found this: 1/2 cup all purpose household cleaner + 1/2 cup fabric softener + 1 cup of ammonia. I was wondering, do you know if I can use it to clean my small oriental area rug?

    Matthew Bourdon:
    08/02/2016, 09:31:49 AM

    Hello Alexandra, Thank you for your question about what to use for cleaning your small orientals. I see that you recently found a recipe to clean carpets. I myself would hesitate to recommend using this without knowing more about the household cleaner and fabric softener. I would NOT use the ammonia in the solution. Usually the more simple the cleaning solution the better. Most cleaners use just a simple mild soap to clean rugs. If I am cleaning a rug at home, I would use a mild soap that I might wash dishes with or a baby shampoo or something like Woolite.It should be gentle. Nothing that would be harsh or be considered a strong detergent. As always before cleaning you should try cleaning a small inconspicuous spot in the rug to make sure what you are using will not harm the rug in any way and to check to make sure the dyes are color fast on the carpet. If everything turns out alright in the small spot,then I would go ahead and do the rest of the carpet. I hope that this helps. If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to contact me at Thanks and happy cleaning!

    04/02/2016, 02:29:17 PM,

    These are really great tips for carpet care! With how expensive the cost of carpets can be it's important to take care of them. Great post.

    Bernie Veenstra:
    16/02/2016, 11:13:50 AM

    Thanks for your many helpful hints. I have a large mostly silk oriental carpet that returned from a professional cleaning much yellower (a lot of tan and a bit of orange in the carpet). No urine stains. Do silk carpets run more, or has the carpet been inadequately or poorly cleaned? AqWhere do I go from here, cleaning wise?

    Matthew Bourdon:
    22/02/2016, 10:36:04 AM

    Hello Mr. Veenstra, I see from your note that you have a mostly silk carpet that you recently had returned from a professional cleaner and that the rug was more yellow in color than when you sent it in. It sounds as if, though I am not sure from your description, the carpets tan and orange ran and may be the cause of this change or that the tan and orange ran independently and that this may be a separate issue. Well, to answer your first question about whether silk rugs are much more likely to have colors run than wool rugs. The answer to this is yes, they do have a greater chance of running when the rug is silk. With silk carpets you have to be very careful, as their seems to be a greater chance of the mordant, the additive that holds the dye to the silk, not working as efficiently with the silk as it does the wool. This is why you always want a professional to clean your silk rug and not try cleaning it at home. You next question, about where to go next if the rug you get back from a cleaner and you are not happy with it. The best thing to do is take it back to the cleaner and point out what you have noticed with the carpet. A professional and reputable cleaner will want to hear your concerns with your rug. They should be able to explain what you are seeing and, if there is a problem, tell what steps they will take to fix the problem. I know that this might not be the answer you want to hear, but it is the best place to start. I know trucking a rug around, especially if it is a room size rug, is not the way you probably want to spend a Saturday morning or a lunch hour. However you will want the cleaner to see in person your concerns, as this will be better than trying to describe the issues to them. They will also know what cleaning method they used to clean the rug the first time,and the rug will be there for them to take and work on if needed. I hope that this is some help. I know that it is not a definitive answer to the color change in your carpet, but I leaned that many repair or cleaning issues are unique and there is often not a one blanket answer to cover them. You have to evaluate each situation and see what steps, if any, need to be addressed. As you find that what works in one situation may not work in the next. Though like I said, I would return it to the cleaner and they should want to go over your concerns with you. If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to let me know. You can reach me at or call me during business hours at 315-422-7832 Sincerely, Matthew Jacobsen rugs

    carpet cleaning sydney:

    Thanks for the share.. carpet cleaning tips was very useful.

    Carol Darmer:
    12/03/2016, 10:41:31 AM

    Do you know of a reputable company in my area (Hilton Head, SC - Beaufort, SC zip 29928, 29901) to get an oriental rug cleaned? I really hesitate to try it myself. Thank You.

    James Bergman:

    I appreciate the tips about getting pet urine out of a rug. Urine is one of those smells that I can't stand having in my house and I always try to clean it up as soon as I notice it. I didn't know that vinegar could help neutralize the smell. I imagine the vinegar smell doesn't linger, right? What do you recommend for larger areas? My dog has peed all over the basement and I have tried cleaning the carpet myself, but don't think I got the smell out.

    Ray's cleaning Brisbane:

    Hey guys! I've accidently stained my silk rug with a few drops of white paint. Is there any way to remove it? I've tried everything and the paint is still there. :( Do I have to cut the fibers?

    Mike Barbaro:
    17/05/2016, 07:42:42 PM,

    Beautiful rugs and amazing cleaning tips! Pet urine can be one of the biggest culprits in these cases.

    John Biztac:
    17/05/2016, 07:43:53 PM,

    Do you happen to have any tips of getting burn marks out of rugs? Great article!

    sanjay tuli:
    19/05/2016, 12:00:55 AM,

    Thanks for sharing carpet cleaning tips. Hiring the professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpets is an expensive way of cleaning. So, its good to do regular cleaning yourself.

    Sean's Rug Cleaning:
    19/05/2016, 12:17:34 AM,

    I also love cleaning my rugs at home with homemade cleaners. Anyway, thanks for sharing all that useful information. There was a lot of things that I didn't know!

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