What are the White Spots on My Rug?

What are the White Spots on My Rug?

Zoomed in rug displaying white knot heads
This antique rug has exposed knot-heads due to its age and wear. They are visible in the zoomed-in portion of the image.

Exposed Knot-Heads and Threadbare Rugs: Causes and Prevention

You may have noticed white spots on your rug and wonder what they are and how to fix them. These white spots are known as knot-heads. All rugs have knot-heads, but they are hidden within the pile.

Traffic, wear, and vacuuming with the beater brush can bring knot-heads to the surface where they are visible at a glance. Although knot-heads are a natural occurrence that often happens as rugs age, they can affect the value of the rug as well as its overall “look.”

There are a few options to think about when it comes to fixing rugs with exposed knot-heads. You can cut away the knot-heads, you can color the white knot-heads to match the color of the rug, or you can reweave the portions of the rug that are suffering from exposed knot-heads after trimming them to prevent the threadbare look.

The height of the pile can affect the visibility of knot-heads. The density of the weave can also affect knot-head visibility.

When you imagine the body of your rug, think of it as a 3-dimensional object composed of three parts: the warp, the weft, and the pile.

The warp is composed of the yarn running the length of the rug. Knots are tied to the warp and thus it must be strong enough to hold tension throughout the weaving process. Sometimes a warp thread will break during the weaving process. When this happens, the weaver goes in and extends the broken warp thread and ties it off twice to connect the broken warp thread.

The weft is composed of the yarn running horizontally across the rug. The yarn is woven over and under the warp by the weft strings. The knots are combed down during the construction process to ensure a tight weave.

The pile is the raised surface of the rug that extends from the knots attached to the warp and weft. Pile length can be affected by knot density.

A rug can be composed by as few as 25 and as many as 1,000 knots per square inch (KPSI) or more. The lower the KPSI, the more obvious exposed knot-heads are. The pile of a rug may be long, short, thick, or thin. The visibility of knot-heads varies due to these factors.

For example, rugs with shorter piles are stronger than rugs with long piles. Low pile rugs show wear more evenly as well.

The country of origin, quality controls, materials (some are weaker and more prone to breakage), and workmanship can all affect the quality and strength of the knots.

As a rug ages, it loses pile due to wear, and eventually, knot-heads will begin to show through. In addition, sharp micro-dust accumulates in the base of the pile, aging the rug more quickly and leading to threadbare patches and exposed knot-heads.

This is just one reason why regular professional handwashing is so important for the health and longevity of your rugs. Removing the accumulated micro-dust is a vital part of rug maintenance and must be done by professionals with the proper equipment and knowledge.

Additionally, please note that wool rugs especially need regular professional cleaning, as the wool dries out over the years and loses its natural oils which protect the rug and prevent crushing and cutting due to micro-dust.

Rugs made of cotton or that have a cotton foundation are most likely to show visible white knot-heads after professional washing.

At Behnam Rugs, we offer a variety of solutions for exposed knot-heads. If your rug has only a few exposed knots, we will trim them as a complimentary part of your washing or repair job.

If the exposed knot-heads require more work, talk to us about color-matching the exposed white spots, as well as reweaving if the rug has a lot of knot-heads in need of trimming. Reweaving will restore some of the pile density.

As always, we are here to discuss any questions you may have about the care of your fine rugs. Call 972-733-0400 and we will answer all further questions you have about knot-heads after reading this article.

Rug Cleaning vs. Carpet Cleaning

Is All Rug Cleaning the Same?

The short answer? No.

Read on to learn the specific differences between the different types of cleaning services, and how your rug will be affected.

Carpet Cleaners

Steam cleaning a rugThe first option for cleaning your rugs is a carpet cleaning service. It’s quite common for a carpet cleaner to offer to clean your fine, handmade rugs in addition to your carpeting. Often, a naive individual says yes, thinking they are killing two birds with one stone.

Carpet cleaners use heavy machinery on your delicate, handmade rugs. These machines are made for synthetic fibers, which are much more durable than the natural fibers rugs are made of. Carpet cleaning machines roughly extract dirt from your rugs with sharp and speedy mechanized movements. The construction of your rug can be damaged by these movements.

Carpet cleaners may also use a steam cleaning/hot water extraction method to clean your rug. Hot water and steam weaken the fibers of your rug and treatments that use high temperatures are sure to hurt your rug, resulting in breakage and unraveling.

One common issue is the soap left behind by carpet cleaners, which takes the sheen away from wool and silk rugs and makes the rug stiff and a magnet for fresh dirt. In addition, the fringe of your rug requires gentle hand-cleaning.

Time and time again, customers bring in rugs damaged by carpet cleaners, and the most common issue is fringe that is partially or completely unraveled. This can be fixed by our expert weavers, but it can be costly.

Another problem is that the fringe may be discolored. In fact, it is common for the entire rug to be discolored by the uneven distribution of harsh cleaning solutions that cannot be rinsed out.

While you may save money by trusting a carpet cleaner with your rugs, the inevitable damages they cause will end up costing you much more. The truth is, you get what you pay for. While paying $1 per square foot may seem like a great deal, you know enough now that the damage caused increases that cost exponentially.

Rug Cleaners Who Use Machines

Cleaning a rug with machinesNext, you have professional rug cleaners that use rug cleaning machines. To begin, your rug may be vacuumed with the beater brush extension. This is a big no-no for handmade rugs.

Then, the rotary brush carpet shampooer agitates the fibers to create a soapy foam full of debris. Once clean, the rug is put through a water extractor, wringer, or centrifuge. These machines, while created with rugs in mind, can still be rough on your fragile rugs. The extractors can crush the fibers of your rug and result in breakage or creases.

Rug Cleaners Who Do Everything By Hand

Persian Rug Cleaners Cleaning a Rug TraditionallyFinally, you have professional rug cleaners that do everything by hand. This is your safest option. Professional rug cleaners are well-educated on how to care for Persian, Oriental, silk, wool, and antique rugs. They know about the rug’s construction, fiber resilience, dyes, and daily events such as pet stains and traffic that affect those things.

At Behnam Rugs, we use a traditional, proprietary hand-washing process that has been passed down for generations from Old Persia. The rug is first given a pre-wash treatment for stains and other imperfections. Next, the rug is washed by hand with organic shampoo at least three times front and back and rinsed until the water runs clear at the final stage.

Note that carpet cleaners only wash the front of your rug. Brushes and paddles loosen the dirt from the rug and massage deep within the foundation, which brings these particles to the surface for removal. We use special enzymes to deodorize the rug and remove smells from pet urine, smoke, and other sources.

The rug is dried on a flat surface using only the sun and a gentle outdoor breeze. The dry rug goes through hypoallergenic dusting to remove any remaining particulates, as well as hand brushing to restore shine. Before the final inspection, the rug is groomed so that the pile lays properly as well as the fringes.

Always ask the professionals cleaning your rug about the exact process your rug will go through so there are no unpleasant surprises. When it comes to rug cleaning, experience matters. Be aware of the difference between a legitimate rug cleaning company and a carpet cleaner that does rugs on the side.

Rug Cleaning: Viscose Rayon

Folded rug on a tableRug Cleaning: Viscose Rayon

Most rugs are made of either wool, silk, wool and silk, cotton, nylon, or viscose rayon. Wool rugs can last for centuries, as can silk rugs and wool and silk rugs. Cotton rugs can last around 100 years. Nylon rugs and carpeting last almost 10 years. Lastly, viscose rayon can last between three and 10 years. If your viscose rug receives almost any amount of foot traffic and wear, expect it to last closer to three years.

If you’ve bought a machine made rug before, chances are you are familiar with viscose rayon. Even if you aren’t, viscose rayon is used in paper towels, kitchen sponges, diaper liners, and more. Though it is good for cleaning products, it is not an ideal fiber for rugs as they are exposed to foot traffic, moisture, spills, pet accidents, and dirt.

So, what exactly is viscose rayon? It is a fiber created out of regenerated cellulose. The plant pulp is heavily processed to impart shine. Also known as artificial or “art” silk, viscose rayon is often referred to by names which make the consumer believe they are being sold real silk. However, in actuality, they have been sold a rug made of what is essentially disposable paper. And it’s being sold at real silk prices!

It is not uncommon for customers to bring their brand new “silk” rug to Behnam Rugs for cleaning or appraisal. Unfortunately, when shopping abroad, many consumers are sold viscose rayon rugs and are told their rug is real silk. In particular, the individuals most likely to be tricked are visiting Turkey, China, or India, often as part of a cruise. By the time they are able to get a second opinion on these “real silk” rugs, it is too late and they have no way to get their money back. That’s why we recommend reading our blog about rug shopping abroad before purchasing a rug in a foreign country.

The best way to get reliable feedback about a rug’s materials and construction is to ask a rug cleaner. They are the one resource consumers can trust because they are not being paid commission for a sale and they have cleaned viscose rayon and know about its benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to silk fiber, consumers must be educated before making a purchase. Educate yourself by reading our blog about buying fine silk rugs.

Let’s discuss the viscose rayon creation process. Most commonly made in developing countries, viscose rayon is derived from cellulose. This material is liquefied in a chemical mixture which makes a substance that can be spun into fibers and then into thread. The thread is then woven to create the rug, usually by machine, as handmade rugs are typically made of wool or silk.

Something important to note is that Carbon Disulfide is used in the production process. The highly toxic nature of this compound and the risk of poisoning has caused concerns for worker safety. Improved technology has lowered the risks of working with this chemical and reduced the emissions of sulfur to air. However, the production process is still far from ideal. In fact, the production process is so toxic it’s banned in the U.S.

While viscose rayon is biodegradable, which is a positive trait, the production process is so wasteful it negates the eco-friendly biodegradable aspect. So while you will have purchased a rug that will degrade once you throw it out after a few years and professional cleanings, it’s not really better than a wool rug that will need far fewer cleanings and last over 100 years.

Consumers are being told lies and half-truths about viscose rayon. These claims include the following:

“Viscose rayon is a luxury material.”

While it is true that these rugs have a distinct appearance and feel, their sumptuousness quickly fades from everyday wear. They need regular grooming and are rapidly affected by foot traffic and minor soiling. They show each and every footprint. In very little time, the fibers lose color, sheen, and quality. Attempts to clean this material are often unsuccessful. Though these rugs may at first seem luxurious, you will begin thinking about a replacement within a few years. Essentially, viscose rugs are highly priced disposables. Many consumers are not informed or aware that these rugs last for only a few years before needing a replacement.

“Viscose rayon is simple to maintain.”

This is just not true. Because viscose rayon is made of regenerated cellulose, it cannot hide soil. Dirt from foot traffic and general dust in the home permeates the fibers, causing graying. In addition, foot traffic can cause shedding and breakage quite quickly. Small amounts of moisture from spills cause yellowing. Even a minor water spill can cause a permanent yellow stain and fiber damage. Cleaning up the spill only makes the soiling more obvious. Instead of spot cleaning yourself, trust the professionals to remove any spills or stains to avoid yellowing. Vacuuming can also damage the fibers and cause sprouting. Due to all of this, viscose rayon rugs require professional cleaning much more often than rugs made of other fibers. This is an added expense most consumers aren’t aware of or prepared for. Viscose rayon begins to look dirty quicker than any other rug material. In addition, folding these rugs for shipping or moving can cause unsightly and likely permanent creasing, crushing, and more.

“It’s good for the environment.”

While these rugs are indeed biodegradable, you are now aware that the creation process is toxic, wasteful, and dangerous. In addition, the rug will require many professional cleanings. A wool or silk rug that can last for centuries is a better choice, as viscose rayon rugs need to be replaced about every five years or so, increasing demand for these rugs and thus increasing the output of the far from ideal production process. This production process has been improved with newer technology but it is still quite harmful to the environment.

If you have purchased a viscose rayon rug, it is likely in need of professional cleaning. Make sure you work with a company that specializes in washing viscose rayon, like Behnam Rugs. We have been working with this fiber, as well as nylon, wool, silk, and cotton for over 40 years. Call 972-733-0400 to schedule professional hand washing.

Consider browsing our showroom for a replacement, as your viscose rayon rug will only last a few years. We carry thousands of handmade rugs constructed of materials that are much more ethically sourced and long-lasting than viscose rayon.

If you have purchased a viscose rug, place it somewhere it will not be walked on that is a low risk area for spills and stains. Consider using it as a wall hanging to maximize its lifespan. Now that you know the drawbacks to viscose rayon, we hope you feel more well-informed about the rug buying process. We highly recommend all new viscose silk rugs be sealed by a professional to protect them from spots and stains.

Pick the Right Rug Padding

Rug padDoes My Rug Need Padding?

Yes, all rugs need padding. Whether your rug is on wood floors, vinyl, or carpet, when you walk on your rug, you do not want to move the foundation of it. Installing a pad underneath your rug helps the rug not to move, and it helps preserve the quality of the knots in your rug too.

When a rug is installed without a pad, its shape will distort over time. Your rug will lose its shape, be it rectangular or round, simply from being shifted and moved frequently. Padding will prevent this, and it will help to extend the life of your rug. In addition, a rug that is no longer perfectly shaped will lose some of its value.

When you walk on a rug with a pad installed, it feels softer and more comfortable under your feet. You also won’t have to worry about your rug slipping underneath you and causing an accident, and yes, this CAN happen on carpeted floors, too.

Because it absorbs some impact from furniture and foot traffic, padding can increase the life of your rug by as much as 40%. The most absorbent type of padding is felt. However, the placement, construction, and your personal preferences are what will help you decide which padding is best for your rug.

What Kind of Padding Do I Need?

Rug pad materials perform differently based on the material of the rug. Ask us to help you pick the right pad material for your rug. Our certified rug care specialists can give advice and input so that you choose the best padding for your situation. We will also cut the pad to the shape of your rug.

For many years, hair and jute based pads were the only varieties available. Felt pads are newer, and we recommend this material for most types of rugs. Felt is made of recycled, synthetic materials. Moths will not eat these fibers, and the synthetic fibers of felt are longer lasting than the hair and jute fibers.

The firmness and stability of synthetic felt also give it the advantage of being able to eliminate any ripples and bumps that can cause uneven wear when a rug lies on the floor without a pad. To be truly effective, a half inch thick pad is needed.

Unfortunately, felt pads can still slip underneath smaller rugs, even if the pad is dense. For smaller rugs, we recommend purchasing rubber padding. Be careful not to mix rubber pads with sponge or foam pads.

We do not recommend sponge or foam padding, as they are too soft and can bottom out- stressing the foundation of Persian and Oriental rugs. This is especially applicable to thin, finely woven rugs, flat weaves, or antique rugs. Sponge and foam pads can disintegrate and even stick to wood floors. If you have an antique rug, it is especially important you choose the proper padding to maintain the condition it is already in after 80 to 100 years of life.

One of the best types of rug pad on the market is a fourth-inch thick synthetic felt bonded to a thin, solid rubber backing. This type of pad can serve two purpose. First, it is excellent at anchoring the rug to your floor, preventing slipping.

Second, its felt layer helps to extend the life of your rug. As previously mentioned, a rug without a pad can slide around and cause serious falls and injuries. This type of padding is recommended for all scatter rugs and area rugs that do not have a thick foundation, such as antique rugs, needlepoint, Aubusson tapestries, and flat weaves.

Another benefit of this type of pad is that it can also be used on thick rugs. It is thinner than synthetic felt and will not add on to the thickness of your rug. You can even place this padding on top of carpet. It eliminates rippling, buckling, and adjusting, even on wall to wall carpeted areas.

If you have a rug in need of padding, call us at 972-733-0400. Our specialists will make sure you are informed of your options, their benefits and drawbacks, as well as the price. Rug padding is generally a very small investment that makes a big impact on the longevity and safety of the rug in your home.

Rubber or Vinyl & Felt
Rubber padding on the Left and “Black” padding on the right with vinyl and felt.

How to Properly Store Your Persian Rug

Storage unitProper Storage and Persian Rugs

As beautiful as your Persian rug is, there will be times when you decide that it may be best to store your rug for a few days, weeks, months, or even years.

To make sure that your rug stays beautiful and free from moths or other hidden dangers, read the rug storing tips below.

  1. First, have your rug dusted and washed by a professional rug cleaner. This step will ensure that your rug’s pile is free from moths, moth eggs, dust, and micro-dirt before storage. Avoid storing your rug in areas in which the rug will experience major swings in temperature and/or humidity levels. A non-climate controlled storage facility or an attic will have your rug sitting in summer high and winter low temperatures, which are not healthy for the fibers of your rug. Temperature and humidity changes can permanently affect your rug. Additionally, do not place your rug in an area where there is no air flow or natural light. Again, your attic, your basement, or a non-climate controlled storage unit are not ideal storage spots.
  2. The next step is finding and selecting a proper storage area. Please do not store your rug in a closet, basement, or garage. We have seen far too many rugs that have been damaged due to improper storage. Moist areas are never a good idea for storage of rugs, so we suggest a climate controlled storage facility. Behnam Rugs offers rug storage options, but any climate controlled storage facility will do. If you’d like to store your rug in your home, consider using a guest bedroom or an unused room as opposed to an attic or basement. This will lower the risk of damage from changes in temperature or humidity.
  3. It is actually best to store your rug right on the floor. If possible, lay your rug on a table or shelf, placing a layer of cotton fabric between the rug and the table/shelf in order to keep the rug from soaking up the acids found in wood. The fabric usually is not absolutely necessary, unless you’ll be storing the rug for more than year. Make sure to store the rug horizontally, as vertically storing your rug leads to bending and creases that can be permanent.

 Persian rugs are precious and should be stored as carefully as possible. Here, one of our team members has rolled a rug over a sturdy cardboard tube and covered it with a muslin cloth.

Rolling a Persian Rug

  • You can fold your rugs, but if you do so, fold it softly and do not keep it folded for too long (no more than a few weeks). The folds could cause creases. We recommend rolling your rug if possible to avoid this issue.
  • Find a cardboard tube that is longer than the rug is wide and use it to roll the rug up. If the rug’s foundation is strong enough, roll the rug with the pile in. Otherwise, roll it up with the pile facing out and the foundation facing in.
  • Find a piece of muslin, then cover the rolled rug with it. This will protect the rug from insects, mice, dust, and direct light. If you do not have muslin, use an old bed sheet- any breathable fabric will do. Make sure the muslin or sheet is wide enough to cover the entire width of the rolled rug, then tuck it into the ends of the tube. You do not want any part of the rug exposed.
  • Make sure the wrapping can be secured with wide ties, and tuck the edges of the material into the ends of the tube.
  • If your rug is being stored or wrapped for a long period of time, check it periodically. We recommend checking on your rug at least once every year or so, to make sure there is no damage (such as dampness, holes, moths, etc.).  If the wrapping has become damp, remove the cloth, and check if the rug has also become wet or damaged. If the rug is wet, it is best to call a professional to wash and dry your rug at this point. However, if only the cover has become damp, launder the cloth and/or change the cloth, then re-wrap your rug.  While the rug is out in the open, you can air it out in the sun.  Always check for color fastness before putting your rug in the sun. For example, some Chinese rugs with pastel colors fade in the sun. You can always call us if you have any questions about your rug.

If you are worried that you may not store your rug properly, contact us here at Behnam Rugs. We can roll the rug for you or even store it here in our Dallas showroom. Give us a call. Watch this video to see how to properly roll or roll and fold for storage.