The most common question I’m asked as a professional rug cleaner is ‘How often should I clean my Persian rug?’ – or any hand-knotted rug for that matter.
The short answer is – usually way before you think it needs cleaning.
Let me explain..
Why you shouldn’t wait for your Persian rug to ‘look’ dirty before you clean it
The image above is obviously an extreme example however even slight visible soiling on a rug can be a sign you’ve waited too long to clean it.
Hand-knotted rugs are masterful at hiding dirt and soil. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s amazing how you can lay a thick, well made rug with a dark ground colour, like a good quality Bidjar for instance, that will take foot traffic for years without looking horrible and dirty. This is a plus in terms of aesthetics however this rug will be hiding soil, pollutants and contaminants deep in it’s foundation that are slowly but surely destroying it. This is why you can’t decide whether your rug is due a clean by visually assessing it. It will fool you.
Regular vacuuming won’t remove all the dirt
Think about how much dry soil you sweep or vacuum off a hard floor in your kitchen or hallway over the course of a year. What do you think happens to all the soil that ends up on your rugs? You’re certainly removing some of it when you vacuum. But every day there is dry soil working it’s way down the pile and getting trapped in the foundation of the rug. It’s grinding away at the wool or silk fibres every time you walk over it. Yes, I’m sorry to say that the grit is the culprit but you’re the accomplice. Unless your rug is in an unused room, and never walked on, this applies to you.
Once your rug looks dirty it’s loaded with soil
A rug can hold a truly astonishing amount of soil. We have mechanically dusted rugs (this is the part of the cleaning process that removes dry soil before washing) that seemed as though they would never stop releasing dirt. And these rugs didn’t even look dirty before we started dusting them.
So, How Often Should I Clean My Persian Rug?
We’ve established that you’re probably waiting too long before cleaning your rug professionally. You also now understand that regular vacuuming will not remove all the soil. Yes, vacuuming is the best course of action you can take at home to maintain your Persian rug. However you will still need to have it professionally cleaned periodically to remove trapped soil. And you would still like to know how often is ‘periodically’?.. ‘Exactly how often should I clean my Persian rug?’ The guidelines below will help you decide.
My rug is hardly walked on
Let’s say you have a rug that is hardly ever walked on, and you vacuum your home regularly. In this case you can safely wait many years in between each clean. However if it’s in an unused room that is kept dark your main concern will be ensuring that moths don’t take up residence. Learn how to protect your rugs from moth damage.
If you are storing your rugs please read how to store rugs safely at home
I have kids and a dog that walk over my rugs all day
We’re at the other end of the spectrum here. If you have kids and pets you really should have your rug cleaned at least once a year, and preferably twice a year. You may have to clean them even more often if your pet sleeps on the rugs and/or it has a particularly greasy or smelly coat. The greasy oils that are released from a dog will soak into natural rug fibres and attract soil very quickly.
I’m somewhere in between
Most rug owners will fall somewhere in between the two scenarios above. You’ll have to decide how important maintaining the life of your rug is to you. As long as you don’t have pets and you vacuum regularly you should be able to get a good long life from your rug by having it professionally cleaned every 1 – 2 years. If you love your rug and it is valuable then you should clean it every year. You’ll need to adjust accordingly if you wear shoes in your home, own a rug that is already quite worn, or if you have any unforeseen accidents such as spilling a drink.
- Next time you’re wondering ‘how often should I clean my Persian rug?’ remember that you can’t answer that question by looking at the rug.
- Hand-knotted rugs are masters at hiding dirt. Consider how you use the rug and what it’s worth to you.
- As a general rule, every 18 months is a sufficient period to pass between professional rug cleans.
- If you own a dog you will need to clean your rug much more often.
- Don’t forget that moths are even more detrimental to your rug than soil.