Since rugs come from all over the world with a seemingly unlimited variety of construction, each rug must be evaluated so that an appropriate cleaning approach can be developed. Our methods include full submersion washing, shampoo and warm water extraction and dry cleaning. The most effective cleaning method is a complete wash process. Most rugs, especially those that are hand knotted or woven can be washed. Here is what is involved:
Inspection & Testing
We inspect each rug to determine it’s pre-wash conditions. Each rug will be measured. All natural fiber rugs will have a 24 hour dye stability test performed on each color to insure colorfastness throughout the cleaning process.
Soil frequently covers up various conditions of a rug. This can include basic wear or previous damage such as stains & dye bleeding which may be possible to correct. Other conditions may become visible that are weaving characteristics of the rug.
After our inspection, we will contact you with a report of the rugs condition, discussing any foreseen limitations to the cleaning process.
Wool has a wonderful ability to hold and hide soil. Some rugs can hold up to a pound of dirt per square foot before it even begins to look soiled. Although this soil is not readily seen, it is made up of gritty, abrasive particles that are grinding away at your rug with each step that is taken.
Washing a rug with pounds of fine grit and dirt in the foundation creates “mud in the rug” which becomes nearly impossible to remove.
For 1000’s of years the first step in cleaning rugs has been to vibrate the dirt out. It used to be done by hand beating the rug repeatedly. Modern technology has improved this process. Rugs are placed face side down over an open grid. Next they are mechanically vibrated at the rate of 40,000 vibrations per minute to gently loosen the deep soil so it falls out of the rug. The rug is then turned over and vacuumed with high powered commercial vacuums.
All natural fiber rugs will have a 24 hour dye stability test to insure colorfastness throughout the cleaning process. If the dyes are not colorfast, the dye can likely be permanently “set” by an extra process. As a result, most rugs can be successfully bathed.
The rug is then placed in a sloped wash pit where fresh soft water flows in at one end and is pumped out at the other. It is shampooed, front and back, in this “river” of soft water using wool safe detergents. Most rugs can be safely agitated with a floor machine using the proper soft shampoo brush. This is by far the most effective way of loosening the soil and preparing it for removal. Delicate rugs may need to be agitated manually with horse hair brushes or even weighted rollers.
Rinse & Extraction
After the rug has been soaked and washed, squeegees and rollers are repeatedly used to force the soiled water out of the rug. This soiled water is carried away in the flowing water and continually replaced with clean water
Next the rug is rolled and placed in our horizontal rug centrifuge. This is the safest and most effective way to remove water from the rug. (There are only a handful of these machines in the country.)
This centrifuge accomplishes the same function as the spin cycle on your washing machine. The rug is rolled and slid into the centrifuge. It then spins the rug at over 1,200 rpm. The water and any remaining soil and detergents are literally pulled out of each knot and foundation yarn. We then slow the centrifuge and saturate the rug with more fresh, soft water. This process repeats until the water that comes out of the rug is clear and clean.
In addition to the thorough rinsing the centrifuge makes possible, the rug comes out of the machine nearly dry. This rinse and extraction system produces rugs that are almost unbelievably clean, bright and soft.
Drying and Finishing
Most rugs are best dried by hanging on drying poles. Some delicate or sensitive rugs are laid out flat to dry preventing too much strain on the foundation of the rug. Air movers and dehumidifiers are used to help facilitate drying.
The fringe is washed and dried an additional time, if needed. Many rug cleaners use some form of bleach to whiten the fringe. Bleach weakens and even if highly diluted will over time cause cotton to rot. The fringe is the foundation of the rug. We do not use any form of bleach on the fringe. If a whiter fringe is desired there are other methods available that do not compromise the life of the rug.
Finally, the rug is given a final grooming with a horsehair brush, and then rolled, wrapped and ready to go home.