Authentic oriental rugs, by their very nature, have many variations because they are handmade rather than machine-made. This hand manufacture results in certain distinct, beautiful, and unique characteristics that set oriental rugs apart from lesser reproductions.
Rugs made by hand will always have certain variations in their surface coloration, the density of hand-knotting of the pile, irregularities in shape along the edges or borders, and differences along the fringes or fringe ends.
One of the most common and typical characteristics of a genuine oriental rug, and especially among older or 'nomadic' rugs, is the beautiful color variation known in the trade as 'abrash'.
The effect of abrash is to create or produce differing color patterns, colorations, and various shades or hues. Gradations can often be seen within one color or color field in the design, such as the blues, reds, browns or other colors. These variations may appear as bands or horizontal bars, but other shapes or sections of color variation are possible. Abrash coloration can vary from very subtle shade differences to distinct or even bold variations in certain colors of the rug.
Abrash results from differences in the dyeing process. Small quantities of skeins of pile yarn are dyed by hand before the rug is made. Each dye lot is hand-knotted into the rug, but when another dye lot is next used some color variation is inevitable. Connoisseurs of antique and semi-antique oriental rugs value the beauty and handmade appearance that is typical of abrash.
Sometimes abrash color variation is covered over or obscured by soiling and compaction of the rug pile with use and wear. When the rug is cleaned, much surface soiling is removed and the pile is groomed and made more erect. The truer and authentic pile coloration is now revealed, along with some abrash color variations that were there at the time of manufacture. In addition, there is a possibility that slight variations in pile direction or 'shading' will also be seen after a thorough cleaning. One or both of these effects show up as color variations in the rug.
These distinct colorations are not defects at all but are characteristic of the many variables and dye lot differences that went into the original handmade rug. Indeed, some of the highest quality rug manufacturers spend a lot of time and money simulating this abrash in their machine-woven rug designs. Abrash is part of the beauty and distinctive natural appearance of hand-made oriental rugs, and even of some machine-made rugs which try to reproduce real abrash.
Dye bleeding occurs when a colored fiber loses dye while wet. Uncolored or light colored fiber or yarn may readily soak up fugitive (runaway) dyes from the darker fiber or yarn and become stained. This is most often seen in rugs and carpet where deeply dyed shades (for example, reds, blue, blacks) become fugitive and bleed into white or light colored areas.
At least two conditions cause dyebleeding in colored fibers and yarns:
If pretesting or experience does not indicate a potential dye bleeding problem, the rug cleaner should not be held liable for using what would otherwise be usual and customary cleaning procedures. The best guarantee of satisfaction is to use our services at ABC. We use our experience and stand by our service as a reputable cleaner.
Flatwoven rugs, or 'flatweaves,'" comprise numerous types of rugs with names such as aubusson, berber, dhurrie, drugget, killim (or kelim), Navajo, rag rug, soumak, and Zapotec.
These rugs are usually handwoven in a tapestry-like construction and have a flat surface without a distinctive raised pile. Many flatwoven rugs are reversible.
Currently, the most popular flatweave types are the dhurries with cotton or wool face yarns, kilims with wool face yarns and rag rugs made of cotton or polyester fabric scraps. Dhurries traditionally are woven in India and Afghanistan. Kilims usually are woven in Turkey but are also produced in other countries. Rag rugs are woven in many countries, including the United States.
These popular rugs provide excellent service, along with good value and a pleasing appearance. Unfortunately, they also characteristically exhibit some problems when cleaned.
The cleaning of Oriental and area rugs is a complicated and intricate process. A major concern during this process involves the rug fringes. Rug fringes are prone to some deterioration with normal use due to the fiber content of the fringes (usually cotton), their loose or low twist and their open ends. These characteristics make rug fringes susceptible to untwisting and texture loss during normal use such as vacuuming, walking, etc.
There are additional reasons why fringes may require special treatments during or after cleaning. The first reason is cellulosic browning. Rug fringes are mostly made of cotton, a cellulosic fiber, which undergoes natural changes with time. These changes may lead to the development of a brown stain or discoloration called cellulosic browning. The second reason is the possible change in the color of the fringes during cleaning. This form of color change often occurs as fugitive dyes from the wet rug are being absorbed by the fringes.
There are 2 ways to clean or re-clean rug fringes:
If browning or color bleeding is severe, it may not be eliminated by the first approach (the milder treatment). The second approach will result in white fringes but may also cause some physical deterioration of the fringes. This deterioration is generally manifested in their strength loss, fiber loss and/or "stringy" texture.
Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. The first treatment does not weaken the fringes but may leave them off-white or slightly discolored. The bleaching process will whiten the fringes but may result in a change in texture of the fringes. The fringes may also look stringy and break off during subsequent vacuuming and wear. The choice of procedures best suited for a particular rug comes from knowledge and experience.
Eventually, all rug fringes will wear out from normal use and care. We can renew the appearance of your rug by replacing or re-fringing the old, worn rug fringes. All rugs coming into our plant are checked for possible repair needs. Our repair specialists will be happy to give you an estimate if you desire.
If your rug has a backing, it is very likely a machine-made rug, not an oriental or handmade rug. This backing is applied by the rug manufacturer (carpet also) with latex, an adhesive material. The latex is used to anchor tufts to the back, give additional weight and to hold the backing onto the rug.
Tufted rugs are a good example of this kind of construction. These rugs are often confused with handmade rugs and may even be labeled as 'handmade.' Actually, the tufting may be done by hand but it is done with a tufting gun held by the employee's hand!
Tufted rugs, especially those from India, can also have an odor of 'burning rubber.' This odor may not be apparent in a large department store but may be very offensive in a consumer's home. The odor cannot be removed by any cleaning process. In the country of manufacture, the latex is not given a chance to cure completely before it is shipped to other countries. It will pick up diesel fumes from the shipping vessel and they are forever trapped in the latex. Once you realize that you have purchased one of these rugs, take it back to the store and you should receive your money back. If not, please contact our office for more information.
Because of the nature of the latex or glue in tufted rugs (and other rugs with backings) and its ability to trap odors, we cannot guarantee complete urine odor removal from these rugs.
Latex starts to deteriorate as soon as it is put into service, similar to the rotting of automobile tires, elastic bands in garments and rubber bands. The breakdown is caused by gases in the air, floor waxes, traffic, and sunlight.
A complex mixture, latex contains many chemicals, affecting both its wear properties and cost. Chemicals are added to latex in an effort to retard this breakdown, but cannot prevent its taking place.
Other chemicals are added to reduce cost. Such chemicals could be compared to gravel in a concrete mixture. They take up space but have no adhesive properties. Increased use of this material reduces the adhesive power of the latex, causing an earlier breakdown and therefore, a separation of the backing from the rug.
The more expensive latex compounds will better withstand aging as well as cleaning, but even these will deteriorate eventually. The rate of deterioration is influenced by the ingredients of the rubber mixture as well as the conditions under which it is used. This breakdown will not take place evenly but will appear in smaller areas in the form of 'bubbles' or separation. In many cases, it is more apparent along the rug edges exposed to gases in the air.
This condition can also occur in carpets. Please click here for more information about backing separation in wall-to-wall carpets.
Please also see Rug Tips for Odors & Color Problems in Area Rugs directly below.
'Painting'" of both new and old rugs has become epidemic. The problems with painted rugs are many and the consumer needs to be informed of the consequences. First, if the paint is not washfast (and it usually isn't), the rug will be prone to subsequent color bleeding during professional wet cleaning. Second, the painting is often used to cover over worn areas, but this is not disclosed to the customer. If the painting is in fact disclosed, then the buyer should pay a fair price for the painted rug.
Why do some dealers or retailers paint over oriental rugs, whether worn or new? One common scenario is to hide worn areas of an older rug where the foundation has become exposed. Using dye markers, colored inks, water or solvent-based tints, the lighter colored worn areas where the foundation is exposed are 'tinted' or colored over in an attempt to match the original pile color and disguise the wear.
This surface painting or tinting is quicker and less expensive than re-knotting or inserting new pile, which is the proper way to restore a worn area or missing pile. By merely painting over the wear spot, these worn areas will quickly return to their prior faded appearance during use by the customer.
A second and more serious problem, however, is that the surface painting will often bleed into surrounding areas of the rug when liquids are spilled or when the rug is washed. Many of the surface colors, when overpainted, are not washfast and can bleed profusely, even with the best of professional cleaning and care.
Some newer oriental rugs are also painted, either on the back or on the face (pile side). New rugs from India and Pakistan are sometimes 'painted' on the back (or underside) of the outer border or fringe. When painted, the colors in the outside border are typically black, dark blue, red or kelly green and these colors are prone to bleed or color run when wet.
Other reasons for painting the pile of oriental rugs, even though new or not noticeably worn, is to enhance surface colors and/or to eliminate color variations. These variations are known as 'abrash.' Though normal or pleasing to most, abrash coloration may be disliked or misunderstood by buyers and thus some dealer decides to 'paint' over this special effect.
But how can you know if the rug you've purchased or are considering to buy has been painted? First, ask the dealer or retailer several related questions:
Some naturally- dyed rugs (and certain painted rugs) may have excellent color fastness but many others do not. If the dyes are not 'fast' or secure and the pile has been 'painted', then the rug cannot be successfully washed and adequately cleaned.
The best way to determine washfastness is the simple Turkish towel test which follows: Moisten a white (or Turkish) towel with tap water, and then rub or blot persistently on all colors. Do this on both the face or pile and on the back where appropriate. If any color comes off or transfers onto the towel, it is indicative of a latent color bleeding problem that can cause serious problems later.
Testing the colors on the surface or pile applies to both new and old rugs. If any color transfers or would appear to bleed during the test, then do not buy this rug. We cannot recommend buying a 'painted' rug or any rug that is not colorfast.
Dealers selling painted rugs are not the most trustworthy. So if you're not assured or confident about the purchase, then avoid it and look for another rug or rug dealer, or both.
'Painted Sarouks' (as in the image above) are a particular type of oriental rug imported from Iran that has distinctive rose fields with blue borders and detached floral motifs. Unfortunately, the finishing process used in the early to mid-part of the 20th century had a tendency to fade the rose color. A New York merchant, certain that the American buying public would prefer the darker color, applied a unique solution to this problem by supplying workers with small paint brushes and synthetic dyes. Armed with these, they applied a rose color, painstakingly by hand, to many thousands of these rugs over a period of about 20 years. These are aptly called 'American Sarouks.'
These America Sarouks can still be found today. More often than not, their painted-on colors have become mottled and uneven though an occasional one may be perfectly preserved. Once you have seen one of these rugs, you won't forget it! The easiest way to tell that a rug is a painted or American Sarouk is to look at the colors in the field on both the front and the back. If the field on the front of the rug is dark rose or burgundy and the field on the back is light rose, you have an American Sarouk. Many consumers of oriental rugs find the mottled appearance of American Sarouks to be pleasing to the eye.
If two adjacent areas of a carpet or rug are not manufactured under the same amount of tension, unevenness or rippling can develop.
Each case of rippling is different. For area rugs and oriental rugs this situation can sometimes be corrected by wetting the backing and tacking the rug out in a stretched position. However, the ripples may recur when moisture is again present.
Rippling can also occur in wall-to-wall carpet, known as backing separation. Click here for information.
Silk fibers are being used increasingly in textile furnishings such as rugs, upholstery, and draperies. Silk is a luxury fiber used in the manufacture of expensive, high-fashioned products. It can be dyed and printed to produce very beautiful designs and bright shades. These properties make silk a beautiful, very desirable fiber.
Silk also characteristically exhibits several problems when cleaned. The following problems often are revealed or accentuated by normal cleaning:
In order to minimize the problems described, special procedures are required for cleaning silk. The choice of method depends on various factors such as the age and condition of the silk textile, spots and stains present, and consumer expectations.
In general, it is more prudent to dry-clean silk. Though some silks can be wet-cleaned successfully, and wet-cleaning of silk aids soil and stain removal, it may result in texture distortion, which is often permanent.
It is important to remember that more intensive cleaning is usually required to restore the appearance of an excessively soiled rug or fabric. Such thorough cleaning procedures, however, have a higher propensity to cause damage.
Silk textiles, therefore, should be maintained well (vacuumed regularly) and cleaned more frequently, before they become excessively soiled.
It is also advantageous to use silk textiles prudently. For example, use silk rugs in areas with no foot traffic (as wall hangings) or at least, limit the amount of foot traffic on them.
Carpet beetles and moths still abound, even with the popularity and widespread use of synthetic fibers. Clothes moths and carpet beetles can digest protein fibers such as wool, silk and specialty hair fibers, but they can also be found on synthetic fibers if they contain protein substances, such as food or beverage stains, blood, urine or other sources of nutritional protein.
Firebrats and silverfish are also textile pests that attack carbohydrates.
Termites digest cellulosic materials including yarns made of jute and cotton.
Fleas lay their eggs in rugs and a professional cleaning of a rug that is flea-infested in our plant will completely eliminate the fleas as well as their eggs. Eliminating fleas from wall-to-wall carpets in the home and business environment is discussed in Textile Insects Carpet Tips.
For information on removal of dust mite infestations and pet allergens,please see Anti-Allergen Green Cleaning for Dust Mite Allergies and Anti-Allergen Green Cleaning for Pet Allergies on this website.
The most effective way to prevent an infestation from textile insects and inhibit growth is to keep textile furnishings clean. Spills should be removed immediately. Rugs should be brushed or vacuumed regularly as insects do not generally attack clean materials.
Regular cleaning will remove the nutritional contaminants that can attract and support insects. If an infestation has occurred, please call our office so we can explain our process for treating textile products for insect control.
Please note, if an infestation is severe, a call to a licensed pest control operator may be required.