ITHACA/ELMIRA carpet cleaners

Sun Fading
in Oriental and Area Rugs

The rug pictured above has suffered severe sun fading to the face yarns on its front side.  If the colors on the front were still as vibrant as those shown on the back, this antique rug would be worth many times its current value.

Almost every interior textile (which includes carpet, upholstery, draperies, and wall coverings as well as rugs) will lighten in color or fade over a period of time.  This is often referred to as 'sun fading.'  This condition can be found in both older and newer oriental and area rugs.  The usual reason this happens is that the owner was not aware that colors can fade over time, especially when a rug is placed near a sunny window.

The extent of damage will depend upon:

·         Where the item is placed.

·         The amount of exposure to light.

·         The intensity of a color.

·         The type of dyes.

·         The dyeing method used.


  • Lighter shades will usually fade more quickly than darker shades simply because they contain less dye to begin with.
  • In a dye which has two or more color components, if one color is affected more than the other, the fading may appear as a color change rather than a lightening of the color. For example, many greenish hues are made from yellow and blue dyes. If the yellow dye is affected and the blue is not, the green textile may seem to be turning blue.
  • Colors may fade uniformly, appearing as a lighter shade of the original color.
  • In severe cases, the color may be completely removed, appearing to be 'bleached' white. The fiber itself may also deteriorate. This is especially problematic with silk textiles.


An interior textile such as a carpet that has been solution-dyed (colored during manufacture) is least susceptible to sunlight fading. The pigments are added to the polymer before the fibers are formed, sealing in the color. Most olefins (polypropylene and polyethylene), many acrylics, and some polyester and nylon fibers used in carpets are dyed with this method.


You may be able to prevent interior textiles from fading in sunny locations by:

1.   keeping the windows covered with draperies (which may fade, too).

2.   by treating the windows with a protective coating that filters out the ultra-violet (UV) rays of sunlight.

3.   If you live in an area where sunlight fading is a problem, shop carefully for all interior textiles, especially valuable oriental rugs, and place them appropriately in your home or business to extend their useful life.


ABC is always available to answer any questions you may have about your oriental and area rugs as well as your upholstery and wall-to-wall carpets.  Please feel free to call our office at 272-1566.

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ABC Oriental Rug & Carpet Cleaning Co.
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850


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