_A Rug’s Value can vary from a cheap $100 Pottery Barn rug to a one worth millions of dollars. Cleaning them is a complex subject so I wanted to pass on to my clients some of the industry knowledge and precepts about them.
First of all- there is "surface cleaning" and there is "washing". Surface cleaning is what a cleaner can do in your home. Washing is done in a "Rug Plant" where rugs can be shook, dusted, bathed, and quick dried.
Most people want surface cleaning - usually, and every few years will go for a full wash. The price difference is drastic, maybe 4 to 8 times.
Here are the steps involved in Rug Cleaning. Once the fibers have been identified:
1. Dry Soil Removal. "Dusting"
Rugs – ESPECIALLY wool rugs – have a capacity to hold a large amount of soil in them. This is because wool under the microscope looks kind of like fish scales, so lots of layers, with MANY places to hide dirt and grit. It’s these many “little pockets” that hold soil, and why a wool rug can have POUNDS of soil in it and still not look especially dirty. The dirt is hiding. And not just dirt and soil, but a whole host of other contaminants. A Rug Plant has vibration machines that literally shake the soils loose. In a home this step is done with a vacuum.
2. Testing of dyes
Each color could be an unstable dye. Sometimes these are food dyes added as a last finishing step by the rug maker to brighten areas. Testing these dyes involves applying hot water and high ph cleaning solutions in small areas and checking the results. Most times there are no running colors and cleaning can proceed with no problem. Sometimes colors can transfer or move- and in these cases the cleaner must know how to clean so these dyes do not run or spread.
3. Cleaning and Rinse Method
In a Rug Plant the cleaning method is to bathe the rug. There is a thorough wash and rinse.
In-Home cleaning involves usually Hot-Water Extraction (similar technique to carpet cleaning) or "Encapsulation" - where soils are set up by a polymer solution to be carried away by regular vacuuming.
This is done as quickly as possible. In a Rug Plant the rugs are hung and blown dry in sophisticated wind environments. That is because those “tiny pockets” that hold soil, also can hold a lot of water molecules too. Wool rugs get HEAVY when wet, and the inside fibers are absorbent cotton warps and wefts that swell with water, so you need to have the equipment capable of removing that level of moisture so that the rug can be properly and thoroughly dried quickly.
In a home the situation is less drastic because the rugs have not been soaked. Often a high volume air mover is used- other times the sun works fine- while the rug is hopefully suspended above the floor to speed up the drying process.
The cleaner must be familiar with all the complexities of Rug Cleaning to safely execute it in the home or in a Rug Plant.
USA Carpet can achieve wonderful surface-cleaning results and also is affiliated with Robert Mann Galleries of Denver for specialty cleaning.