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.

Color Bleeding and Color Runs in Persian Rugs

Color Bleeding and Color Runs in Persian Rugs

Antique rug with color bleeding
This antique rug experienced color bleeding that was contained to the corner which is magnified in the black circle.

When it comes to dyeing a rug, there are two types of dyes that may be used. There are CHEMICAL dyes, composed using formulas with specific instructions that create the exact same color every time, and there are NATURAL dyes, which come from a variety of sources including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and insects.

Natural dyes can be harder to replicate with exact precision, which is why some rugs may feature colors that are not a perfect match throughout the rug. Many people enjoy rugs colored with natural dyes because they believe the less uniform look gives the rug character. In fact, the rug industry typically uses natural dyes to make antique replicas. Naturally dyed rugs are more sought after by collectors. Chemical dyes were created because there was a desire for more control and standardization in the dyeing process. After so many years of creating these dyes, most formulas are stable.

So how can you tell whether a dye is chemical or natural? There are two ways to determine this, chemical analysis or an “experienced eye” test. Chemical analysis is of course more reliable, however, a knowledgeable rug dealer who has been in the industry for decades can tell if a rug is dyed with chemical dyes or natural dyes for much cheaper. In addition, chemical analysis requires samples of each color on the rug, of which there can be more than 15! Since the “experienced eye” test does not damage the rug and is essentially free, it is the preferred method. You can learn more about the dyeing process here.

Usually, a rug is washed after it is woven to remove any excess dye and color. The dye is also “fixed” before washing to make it stable. If the dye is not properly set it will not be colorfast when it comes into contact with water. When a rug is purchased that has never been washed before, rug owners are often dismayed to hear that their rug is experiencing color runs or color bleeding.

Luckily, 95% of new rugs have been washed at least one or two times before shearing. That first wash will reveal unstable dye, which can be influenced by the maker of the dye and the origin of the ingredients. For example, a rug made in a small village may experience color runs due to improper mixing of the dye elements, resulting in instability.

The other reason a rug may experience color runs is that the rug has not been washed for 20+ years. With wool especially, lack of regular washing may result in a loss of the oils from the wool, meaning that oil is no longer holding in the dye and it may run when washed. Washing your rug regularly conditions the wool and keeps the oils happy.

When a rug bleeds during washing, this may result in foggy color. Foggy color means that dye from one area stained dye another area of the rug, muddling the original color to something else, for example, excess red dye staining an ivory area pink.

Luckily, when this happens the aging process will cause that foggy color to fade. The best way to accelerate the aging process is to leave your rug in the sun. The sun’s rays accelerate the fading of foggy colors, making them much less noticeable. Just leaving the rug in the sun for a few days after washing can fade the foggy colors by 30% to 40%.

As your rug ages, it will begin to lose pile, patterns may lose sharpness, and the rug may start looking threadbare. Traffic, over-vacuuming, improper care, and dirt create an environment that decreases the thickness of the pile over time. Proper and regular washing is necessary to prevent pile depletion.

So, how do you bring your rug’s design back to life? Precise color touch-ups, done by hand, can minimize the look of a faded, unclear rug pattern. If you choose to have the color and details of your rug touched up, it is important that you don’t spill anything on the rug afterward, or walk on it much.

If your rug does experience color bleeding when professionally washed, it is important that the company completely rinses all color from the rug. If the unstable dye is left behind in the rug, it can transfer to anything that touches it, such as a dog’s paws or a child’s feet. Because there is no way to be certain that unstable dye transfer is not harmful to skin, all excess color needs to be washed out for safety reasons.

If you are buying an old or antique rug, ask the seller to perform a colorfastness test. Wet the fabric and use a towel to see if there is color transfer. If there is, you may want to reconsider your purchase.

Color runs and color bleeding do happen to handmade Persian rugs, but it is not the end of the world. Call Behnam Rugs at 972-733 to discuss any concerns you have and options for a rug that has experienced color bleeding.

 

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.

Rug Cleaning: What to Do (and What NOT to do) When You Stain Your Fine Rug

Family eating pizza on a rugRug Cleaning: What to Do (and What NOT to do) When You Stain Your Fine Rug

Spills and stains happen. It’s every rug owner’s nightmare but it can’t be avoided. So what should you do in the event that something gets on your rug? And what should you NEVER do? It depends on the stain! The most common stains include food, mud, wine, grease, pet accidents, which we will cover in this blog. At-home rug cleaning varies from stain to stain.

What to do in the case of food or mud:

Do: Address it immediately. Remove any large particulates. The longer a spill sits on a rug, the harder it is to remove and the higher the likelihood it becomes a stain that could be permanent. Get a paper towel or clean rag and blot the spill as soon as you can.

Do: Mist the area with a clean spray bottle full of tap water. It’s important the the spray bottle not have the remnants of something else, like a harsh cleaner, in it. A spray bottle is ideal, but if you don’t have a clean one you can pour a bit of water over the spill.

Do: Blot or dab the stain as soon as you notice it and then again after spraying it with water.

Do: Blot until nothing comes out on your paper towel.

Do: Use paper towels. These are better at absorbing than cloths.

Do: Dilute and remove the stain gently.

Do: Proceed to dry the rug as soon as possible. Elevate the rug and use a fan, do not use heat.

Find out what to do in the case of wine stains.

What to do in the case of grease from lubricant or an oil by-product:

Do: Get out some rubbing alcohol.

Do: Saturate a cloth and rub it gently against the stain.

Do: Once the stain is gone, follow the procedure for food and mud listed above.

What to do in the case of a dog accident:

Dog urine can be acidic as well as colorful. The breed, age, time of day, diet, and body chemistry all affect the urine differently. In general, you can follow the same steps as you will for food and mud, with added steps afterward. After the rug has dried completely, odor or color may still remain

. Your rug may smell and have a yellowish stain, or it may just smell or just be stained. Placing the rug in direct sunlight or next to an air circulation fan can help dissipate the odor. If the urine is very acidic the smell will be strong.

If direct sunlight and circulation don’t work, try baking soda. Once you are sure the rug is 100% dry, you can try to remove the odor with baking soda. Use a generous amount over the stained or smelly area. Leave it for several days, depending on the strength of the odor. Make sure the rug is not wet, as baking soda will discolor a wet rug. After a few days, vacuum the rug completely.

If this doesn’t work, or to remove any discoloration from the accident, you need professional help. Professionals can perform color touch ups, as well as use live enzyme bacteria to effectively eliminate any remaining odors.

Don’ts:

Don’t: Let the spill sit on your rug. The longer a stain sits on a rug, the more likely it will be completely absorbed by the fibers, making it much harder to remove. When you let a spill sit on your rug, the spill begins to migrate deeper and deeper.

Don’t: Rub the stain. Rubbing pushes the spilled particulates deeper into the body of the rug where it is harder to remove.

Don’t: Use chemical cleaners, especially those meant for carpets. These chemicals are far too harsh for delicate rugs, and can cause color fading, bleeding, and even damage to the fibers that could cause the rug to fall apart.

Don’t: In the case of a pet accident, do not try to remove the odor with baking soda if the rug is not 100% dry.

Always follow these guidelines when removing stains from your rug. If you encounter a stain you can’t remove, don’t worry! The experts at Behnam Rugs can remove almost anything, and we do it without using harsh chemicals or machines. We recommend that you avoid using spot removers on your rugs, as this makes our job easier.

We utilize hand washing methods passed down for generations from Old Persia, and use only organic shampoos and live bacteria enzymes that are 100% safe for fine, handmade rugs, including antiques. In addition, we recommend professional cleaning every three to five years to ensure your rug is in tip-top shape. Call 972-733-0400 to schedule professional cleaning.