I remember in school I had to tea dye a piece of cotton cloth. I boiled the water, steeped the tea, swished the cotton around for awhile, and Voila! I had a newly yellowed piece of cotton. It is fun to do when you are a kid, but when it comes to area rugs it can be a surprise to see your rug change colour in the opposite way, from golden to cream.
In September of 2008, I wrote about a lady that brought in her wool tufted area rug and one half was white and the other was a golden colour after she spot cleaned it. That is not the best way to find out that your rug had been 'tea stained'(as it is called in the rug business). I will remind rug buyers again to take a closer look at the rug you want to buy.
Look at the whole rug fibers, give them a tug or a scratch, and smell the rug. By doing those three things you can avoid a rug that may give off a bad odour due to the adhesives holding it together, a rug that sheds it's fibers excessively, or have it change colour when you clean up a spot.
Another thing to look for is if the fringes are tea stained. The fringes of this flat weave area rug are dyed after the rug is made because it is less cotton to dye and cheaper to do.
The cotton fibers run the length of the rug so dying all the cotton wouldn't be very cost effective, especially since 95% of it is hidden. This rug wouldn't have looked as nice with white fringes, so it makes sense to make them golden.
However when you own a rug where the fringes were 'tea stained' you may not know it until it gets cleaned or wet and the fringes become white again, so the question is: How do you tell if the fringes are 'tea stained'?
As you can see in the picture the ends of the fringes show that they were dyed golden. We have to let our clients know that more may come off during the cleaning process.
We do our best to not remove any of the tea stain, but depending on how well it was dyed we cannot guarantee the fringes will still be golden.
Fortunately with this area rug there wasn't a noticeable difference after we cleaned the rug.
Now to answer the question of how to tell if the fringes are dyed. Try to push the fibers on the end of the rug back a bit and see if you can see more of the cotton fibers and see if they are different colours. You can also ask the rug dealer. The downside to this dying technique is that the manufacturer doesn't have to say if the fringes or the rug were 'tea stained', which makes it a bit harder to find out.
Giving the rug you want to purchase a thorough inspection will help curb possible surprises later.
Thanks for reading, RugloverMary