ITHACA/ELMIRA carpet cleaners

Why Do Some Rugs Wrinkle?

Wrinkled RugsWrinkled Rugs

Wrinkled rugs can be a bit of a mystery. Why some rugs wrinkle or buckle can often be explained by 1 of 3 reasons:

1.     The environment the rug lives in.

2.      Preexisting conditions caused by the weaving process.

3.      A cleaning process that may not have been appropriate for the rug.

Below are five scenarios that can create wrinkled rugs and the underlying source of each problem:


Rugs are ideally placed over a hard surface. They are not meant to cover soft surfaces. When a rug owner chooses to place rugs over wall-to-wall carpet, if the rugs are pliable and there is furniture on top of them, wrinkled rugs may be the result. In the worst-case scenarios, there will be stretching and, eventually, structural damage to the foundation fibers of the rugs.

A pad designed to use under rugs placed on top of wall-to-wall carpet may help to hold a rug in place and in shape. However, the best situation for the longevity of a rug is to place it on top of a hard floor.


In some rugs, and much more evident in tribal rugs, wrinkled rugs can be the result of a change in the weaving tension. If a rug is woven on a nomadic loom (one that is moved during the weaving process), then creating the same consistent tension can be a challenge. These tension changes in the foundation fibers can sometimes manifest themselves as uneven edges, field (central area) wrinkles or creases, or areas of width or length differences.

If the weaver changes weaving styles, for example, moving from knotting the pile to stitching a tapestry weave, this can create wrinkling in those areas of structural change. This type of wrinkling can usually be seen along an end finish where a weaver may have an elaborate kilim (flat area) weft (side to side) design finish to complete a piled rug. The wrinkling or buckling in this case is a characteristic of the weave and is often accepted as part of its unique rug personality rather than a ‘flaw.’


Some rugs wrinkle because they are made poorly. Most of today’s poorly made, cheaper wool rugs come from India and are sold through many of the mass-market rug stores.

Hand tufted rugs from India, the cheaper ones with material covering up the back side of the rug, use poor quality latex to hold the rugs together. As this latex delaminates, there will not only be a messy powder residue that gets all over the floor, but there will also be wrinkles that develop along the edges and in areas of foot traffic or furniture placement.

The latex in these rugs is what holds the rug in shape and square. If the lumps are slight wrinkles, these can sometimes be pressed back flat again. If they are areas stretched out of shape, it may be possible to replace the backing with new latex and material to try to attain the original rectangular shape.

The newest rugs that show wrinkling problems are referred to as India ‘hand-loomed’ rugs. These are loosely constructed rugs attempting to give the look of a hand-knotted woven rug, but they are a vastly inferior product.

With these rugs it is possible to pull along the corner of the rug and actually see the warps (up and down cords) and the wefts (side to side cords) move in your hands because they are loosely strung together. In high traffic areas, these rugs can split and pull apart. Any attempts at cleaning on-site will pull the warps and cause tearing.

These rugs are currently sold in all the major rug retail stores. As more customers discover they have purchased a rug that will not hold itself together, it is hoped there will be enough complaints to pull them off the market.


Sometimes fibers can shrink during cleaning and wrinkled rugs will be the result. Sometimes, also, they can swell from the moisture to create curling or buckling.

When these rugs shrink, stretching will sometimes help to return the rug back to its original shape if the amount of shrinking is not severe.

Some tribal weaving areas are known for fibers that may shrink. In war-torn weaving areas (such as Afghanistan) where supplies of properly pre-washed fibers may be in short supply, it is possible to find rugs that shrink from this type of weaving flaw. Often, inspecting the back of the rug can give clues on a potential of shrinking wefts or warps.

Navajo rugs that shrink may do so because the outer perimeter cord was not pre-shrunk prior to weaving. In this case, the cord can be readjusted by a repair specialist in order to make the rug flat again.

With swelling fibers, curling and buckling will correct itself when the rug is dry again. Usually this shows as curling sides or corners during a washing process.

If the rug is a custom creation with seams, this swelling can split the seams and a potential repair may be needed. These types of rugs may need to be blocked to stabilize them during the cleaning process. This can help protect those seams and keep them intact.


The most challenging of wrinkled rug problems can be from rug cleaning mistakes. Surface only rug cleaning, which occurs when carpet cleaning companies clean rugs on location, is a common problem. So many things can occur. The vacuum of the carpet cleaning wand may stretch and damage the lay of the rug and this is usually not reversible.

High heat can contribute to bleeding dyes in a natural fiber rug and it can also shrink some fibers in the cleaning or drying process. Some of these situations can be corrected with follow-up care but it is always recommended to clean rugs in a rug cleaning plant to allow the opportunity to be unrushed and do a better cleaning job, as well as handle any unexpected challenges that may crop up.

That is why it is incredibly important in today’s rug market, where more corners are cut to get rugs to market cheaper, that a rug be inspected thoroughly for potential fiber or construction problems before a wash process begins.

PLEASE NOTE: Much of the information in this article can be found on and has been used with permission.


When your rugs are in our plant for washing, treating, repairing, etc., you can be assured that our staff is well trained in every procedure necessary to avoid problems that might possibly occur during the time your rug is under our control. You can be assured the items you have entrusted to us will be returned to you in the best possible condition for you to enjoy for many years to come.

Our office at 130 Cecil Malone Drive in downtown Ithaca, NY are open Monday through Thursday from 8am to 4:30pm, closing at 4:30pm on Fridays. We are also open from 10 to 1 every Saturday.

Our phone number, which can be texted as well, is 607-272-1566.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our procedures and hours are changed. These will be cited on our website. Please also follow our Facebook page for information as well.




"The Cleanest Clean You've Ever Seen."


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


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Oriental and Area Rug Washing at ABC Oriental Rug 

Rugs on the wash floor are gently scrubbed before thorough rinsing.

Gentle scrubbing continues. Note the wringer in the background-the next step in the washing process after rinsing.

After thorough rinsing, the rug is sent slowly and carefully through the wringer to take out as much of the water as possible before being hung on racks in the drying room. 

Rugs are hung on a rack in the temperature controlled drying room until completely dry.