We hear the question from home owners & business professionals all the time:
Why does my handwoven Persian rug need a rug cleaning expert? Why can’t I just use a dry cleaner or carpet cleaner to clean my rug?
The short answer: It’s all about the process and the level of care.
Let’s start with the Dry Cleaner.
Dry cleaners take the utmost care with your clothes, curtains and even your tablecloths. So why wouldn’t you trust them with your handmade textile?
Most dry cleaners are not rug experts – especially with fine handwoven natural fiber ones.
Which means one of two things.
They either do it in-house or they farm the job out.
If they do it in-house you’re looking at your rug going into a solvent bath maybe with or without other dirty articles (we hope without).
The problem with this method is that the chemicals used to clean clothing are typically too harsh for rugs and will severely reduce the life of the rug. And their method does not the rug really be clean that well – especially with heavy sediment removal.
If they farm it out instead you have no control over who they send it to which could lead to all kinds of trouble including…
• The rug being physically damaged
• The rug being lost
• The colors of the rug bleeding
• The companies not having the proper insurance to cover the rug.
There was an owner of a fairly valuable rug who trusted a local cleaner to clean his rug. The cleaner subcontracted the work to another company better suited to clean it than they were.
So far so good. The first company did the right thing in getting someone more competent than themselves to handle the cleaning.
But here is where things started to go south.
The owner goes back to the first company to pick up his rug only it’s not there. The second company was not releasing it until they got paid by the first company.
You see, company #1 had not paid his previous subcontracting bills to company #2 and now they’re holding this particular rug as ransom.
The rug owner was not pleased especially when company #1 would not tell him who company #2 was.
After a bit of sleuthing, the owner tracked down the rug but had to pay to get his rug back. Not only for his own cleaning, but for the debt incurred by company #1 to the tune of several thousands of dollars.
Company #1 of course disappeared.
Major lesson learned? Stay tuned…we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Let’s talk about carpet cleaners now.
Carpet Cleaners are great for those wall to wall carpets.
Since they generally only have one kind of cleaning equipment, all the carpets get the same kind of treatment.
It’s kind of like the old saying if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Take a look this typical description of how their hammer, er….ahem, I mean their cleaning equipment works:
“We inject hot, soft water and our proprietary cleaning solution into your carpet. Then our magic wand loosens and lifts the dirt and soil from the carpet, without the abrasive brushing of other cleaning methods. And, drying time is faster since 95 percent of the moisture is suctioned out of the carpet. That means no leftover soapy residue. You say goodbye to dirt, allergens, dust mites and other microscopic pollutants that collect in your carpet.”
Sounds pretty good right?
Sure, as long as you are a synthetic wall to wall carpet.
But what if you are a natural fiber (i.e.wool, silk, etc) handwoven rug?
- Is the proprietary cleaning solution actually suited to this type of rug or will it be too harsh (hint: it’s waaaay to harsh)
- Do they do any testing to see if the dyes in the rug will run and bleed? (many carpet cleaners are not trained for this kind of thing)
- What precautions do they take to prevent the rug from shrinking after their hot water extraction cleaning method? (natural fibers can do some funny things if you don’t know how to deal with them properly)
The lesson learned in all of this is if you have an area rug that needs to be cleaned, take it to professional area rug cleaning company.
- A company that has an actual facility you can walk into where your rugs get cleaned on-site.
- A company that has a highly trained and skilled group of people who care for rugs like it was their own.
- A company that has a passion for rugs and it shows in the way they decorate their reception area and talk about your rug.
- A company that loves rugs so much that they only ever clean them one at a time and would NEVER put them into a bath with other dirty and contaminated rugs.