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What are Those White Spots in Oriental Rugs?

White knots in oriental rugs are an inherent characteristic of authentic oriental rugs.  These rugs, with a luxurious, hand-knotted pile are objects of beauty.  The small white or off-white spots that appear at random in a few, or sometimes many, places on the surface of these rugs are very common.

These 'spots' are actually knots from the rug's cotton foundation yarns that have worked their way up to the surface of the rug. They are sandwiched in between the pile fibers and thus are exposed as part of the pile. You can also find them in the lighter colored areas as well.

Why Do White Knots in Oriental Rugs occur?

The oriental rug's pile is actually hand-knotted onto a foundation of warp (top to bottom) and weft (side to side) yarns. In most oriental rugs, this foundation is composed of off-white or light colored cotton yarns.

Because the cotton comes in short lengths, several pieces will be knotted together to make the appropriate length. Inevitably, during the weaving process, some of these yarns will break and need to be spliced together, creating additional knots.

When a rug is new, the white knots in oriental rugs can be obscured by the full length of pile surrounding them, although they can also be close to the surface.

These knots are bulkier than the surrounding face fibers and ordinary foot traffic will force them to the surface at the same time that the pile fibers are wearing down. Since they are a different material and color than the face fibers, they may be a cause for concern. However, their appearance is normal and careful inspection can often find them in almost any oriental rug.

Why Are These Knots More Noticeable
After Cleaning?

Immediately following completion of the weaving of an oriental rug or during distribution and retailing, the more obvious knots may be colored over with a slight tint or dye marker. As the rug is used, the knots will darken and become obscured due to surface soiling.

Following a thorough cleaning, the soils, grime, and possibly the tint are removed, making the knots more prominent. This is neither a defect in the rug nor a problem with the cleaning, but rather a normal result from the use of the oriental rug.

Can the Appearance of these Knots
be Hidden?

At our cleaning and repair plant, we may be able to provide an added service to hide the appearance of these knots. We can do a minor repair to retouch the most noticeable of them. A set of dye sticks or indelible markers, especially suited to oriental rug colorations, are used to recolor the tops of the white knots in oriental rugs so they either disappear or become much less noticeable.

CAUTION: These knots should never be cut except by a trained technician, as you can make a hole in the foundation of the rug. The hole could lead to a larger hole and the loss of face fiber. Given normal foot traffic and soiling, the white knots will also become soiled, darken, and disappear until the next thorough cleaning.

White Knots in Oriental Rugs Are Normal!

These knots in oriental rugs are a normal consequence of wear and an inherent characteristic of beautiful, hand-made oriental rugs. It is a feature of these unique rugs, whose face and foundation are both made by hand.

It is all part of the 'mystique' of oriental rugs!


We can identify the knots in your oriental rug and explore options for improving the appearance, if you desire.  Just bring your rug into our plant in Ithaca, contact us here, or call our office at (607)-272-1566.

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


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