Why Do Some Rugs Still Smell After They are Washed?

Dirt removed by massaging the rug

Why Do Some Rugs Still Smell After They are Washed?

The dirt hiding in your rug’s pile is destroying your fine rug. Over time, dust and debris travel down from the top of you rug to settle in the pile. This can cause your rug to smell, but even worse, it can damage the fibers of your rug and create micro-tears, causing the foundation to wear away, revealing threadbare patches.

So, where does this damaging debris come from, how does it build up over the years, and how can you remove it?

The debris that settles into the pile of your rug typically comes from the daily use of the rug. Pet dander, hair, and urine, skin cells, dirt from outside, food particles, and humidity create the perfect environment for a type of clay mixed with microorganisms to form in the rug’s pile. Vacuuming just pushes this clay deeper into the foundation of your rug. Foot traffic grinds it in as well.

Some types of dirt, such as sand, have sharp edges that can cut the strands of the rug’s wool fibers. This causes fibers to be added to the dirt trapped in your rug, making larger and larger amounts of damaging debris laying in the pile. As your rug experiences foot traffic and vacuuming, the dirt trapped in the pile moves and cuts more and more fibers. Eventually, the foundation of the rug becomes exposed due to a loss of density.

Dirt in the rug's pile
This is a cross section of a rug that demonstrates where the dust gets trapped over time.

As the density decreases, the sharpness of the design of your rug lessens over time, eventually becoming blurry and threadbare. In addition, this debris can be malodorous and contain many allergens that irritate your immune system. Your guests may notice a smell when they enter your home that you have become nose blind to.

We highly recommend that you vacuum your rug face down every year or two to loosen this clay that is no doubt trapped in the body of your rug. Never use the vacuum’s beater brush when vacuuming your handmade rug’s face. Once the buildup is loosened you can vacuum at least some of it out.

This will extend the life of your rug, but simply vacuuming at home is not enough. Every three to five years your rug needs to be professionally cleaned to remove this damaging substance. Waiting too long will cause your rug to become threadbare and the design to become blurry.

Dirt removed
These are the magnified particles that are hiding in your rug.

In conclusion, what can you do about this clay lying in the pile and slowly destroying your rug?

The best thing to do is have it professionally cleaned. Behnam Rugs uses a traditional Persian hand washing method that removes this damaging clay. Sometimes, washing alone is not enough to remove the dirt and odor from deep within the rug’s pile. When this happens, the team at Behnam beats both sides of the rug with wood paddles, as well as rolls up the rug with the back side facing up and massages the rug, loosening the debris.

Our deep tissue rug massage is sure to remove this harmful clay by breaking up and loosening the dirt and debris. Once removed, the odor trapped in your rug disappears, and your rug is once more ready to be a centerpiece in your home.

If the rug is professionally washed and still has odor, it for sure has sand and dirt trapped inside the pile and foundation. The longevity of your fine rug depends on how often it is washed and how well the dust and debris is removed.

When it comes to rugs and their care, experience matters.