REGULAR CARE AND CLEANING OF TURKISH AND ORIENTAL CARPETS
Cleanliness is the first and major step towards the preservation of a hand made carpet and it is the best defense against damage. There are no strict rules to determine when and how often to clean a carpet since every hand made carpet is a different and every household exposes a carpet to different amounts of wear and dirt. The following advice and information are basic general instructions that the average carpet owner may exercise in the care and cleaning of Turkish and Oriental Carpets. The best recommendation is regular brushing with an old fashioned hand broom with natural bristles or the use of a vacuum cleaner. Remember that it is equally important to brush the underlay of the carpet and the floor beneath. Utilizing a vacuum cleaner will never damage the carpet if only cleaning is made by the nozzle attachment other than the revolving brush attachment.
WASHING OR CLEANING
How often a carpet to be cleaned, obviously depends on the amount of traffic and the type of carpet. Such cleaning may vary from every six months to once every two years. A carpet with a light colored pattern may be sent out to be cleaned more often, but it may be less obvious if the carpet is dark and intricately patterned. The first indication that the carpet needs cleaning will be from the feel of the pile, which may feel course and harsh to the touch instead of velvety and smooth as it should be.
Another useful test is to fold up one corner and tap the back of the carpet over the palm of the hand. If a fine powder of dust, grit and loose fibers fall into your hand it is certainly the time to clean the carpet.
HAND CLEANING AT HOME
You may hesitate at the idea of cleaning your carpet at home. Although it is a time consuming process requiring care and patience, it is actually a simple job which can be successfully carried out by any carpet owner who follows these simple instructions. Hand cleaning has several rewards, apart from the obvious benefit of saving money. It will give personal satisfaction to see every fiber getting fresh and reviewed. It will also give you a chance to have a closer relationship with your carpet as every previously unnoticed detail of color and motif comes into view with the close attention that hand cleaning requires. Nearly all types of carpets can be cleaned at home with the exception of antiques, carpets in need of repair and fine silk carpets. These should receive the attention of a personal carpet repair specialist.
PREPERATION FOR WASHING
Preparation is as important as the washing process itself. First of all, test the carpet for color fastness by rubbing a brightly colored area gently with damp white cloth. Then examine it the carpet thoroughly to make sure it is not in need of repair. Since the carpet becomes slightly fragile when it is wet, it is advisable to carry out most repairs before washing. Only repiling is done more successfully after washing, since the color can be matched more accurately. Before washing, brush and beat the carpet thoroughly to remove as much loose dust as possible, because dust and dirt is more damaging when wet rather than dry. Finally find a flat, clean hard surface on which to clean the carpet more easily.
Most of the necessary equipment can be found already at home. A soft brush with natural bristles about one inch long (the type used for grooming horses is ideal), white natural vinegar, carpet shampoo (or any kind of natural soap), especially Ivory soap is recommendable) and a bucket of lukewarm water are all that is needed.
Caution:Avoid using detergents and soaps containing strong chemicals with high P.H. values since inorganic substances may harm organic wool fibers.
Lay the carpet with the pile up on a hard flat surface. Dip the brush into the liquid (mixture of soap, vinegar and lukewarm water) and apply it in gentle even vertical strokes. Vigorously brushing or scrubbing will not clean thoroughly and is likely to damage the carpet in its wet vulnerable state. Start in one corner, brushing up and down, against the pile with even overlapping movements. Once the carpet is brushed lengthwise, than brush horizontally, or from side to side across the pile, the same gentle overlapping strokes is best. The Pile should be thoroughly clean by now. Finally, brush gently in the direction of the pile as the carpet dries, so that the pile is running in the right direction.
Try to apply the cleaning solution sparingly, so that the foundation does not become wet. It is very difficult to dry a carpet thoroughly, since it is firmly encased in the million of tight little knots. If the carpet is relayed on the floor while it is still damp, the carpet will probably start to rot and in a few months the base will become extremely brittle.
During the entire cleaning process handle the carpet as carefully as possible, since while it is wet, it is extremely fragile, so it is very easy to cause damage.
Small carpets can be pegged by the kilim and on a clothes line. Large ones are more easily dried on a hard clean surface like concrete of paving stones. Do not dry on a lawn, since the base will absorb moisture of the grass. If the weather is not cooperating for drying it outside than let the carpet dry flat in a room with warm air current heating system. While it dries donít walk on it and donít place anything on it. The warp, left and the pile of a completely dried carpet should feel soft and pliable.
Remove the dry dirt and shampoo powder by gently brushing with a soft brush or by using the vacuum cleaner.
THINGS TO AVOID
Washing machines and dryers must never be used for any delicate hand made item. Vibration, water temperature and harsh detergents will cause irreparable damage. It may even reduce the carpet to shreds. Many people must have seen or heard Eastern weavers washing the carpets in streams and rivers. This has lead many owners to wrongly believe that a complete soaking is good. This process in fact, is only used for brand new carpets. They are washed very quickly laid out to dry immediately in the baking sun.
Some firms that advertise themselves as expert carpet cleaners use electric rotary brushes. These machines were designed for use on machine made carpet and should only be used on such items. Again dry cleaners advertise themselves as carpet cleaners. These services may be useful for machine made carpets, but an Oriental hand made masterpiece should never be subjected to the strong chemicals that these firms use. The damage may become apparent only after several months and it may be irreparable.
DEALING WITH SPILLS AND STAINS
Water and dampness are the greatest danger to an Oriental carpet. Water spills are perhaps the most common accident at home. When this occurs, necessary steps should be immediately taken. Using a white cloth with no coloring, try to absorb as much of the spilled water as possible. Place some material underneath the carpet and never try to wring it out. A hair dryer, set a moderate heat, is probably the best implement for drying. Dry the carpet thoroughly from both sides. The pile may be a little when dry. Gentle ease it back into shape with your fingers. On the other hand, in a busy household, a variety of substances may be accidently spilled on a rug. Excluding the silk and antique carpets most of these accidents can be tackled at home. The first step with any substance is the same as with water. Absorb as much as the spill as possible with a clean, white dry cloth. This simple absorption method, when carried out as quickly as possible, is the greatest contribution to stain prevention. In dealing with every type of stain, work from top of the stain downward, never from the middle outwards, as this may cause the stain to spread. Never use hot water or bleach to help remove the stain, and always remember that soft scrubbing is much more effective than a harsh one.
Contact us for cleaning solutions for specific stains, not all stains are alike and there different ways of dealing with stains on your Turkish or Oriental Carpets and Kilims.