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.

Wool or Silk Persian Rug?

Sheep Make Wool, Silk Worms Make SilkWool vs. Silk Persian Rugs

Authentic Persian and Oriental rugs are made not only of the finest of wool, but also can be made of silk.

You may wonder which is better to purchase: The answer is neither. Neither is “better,” but one or the other may be a better choice depending on what you plan to do with the rug.

If you’re going to place it on a floor and walk upon it, it’s probably better to purchase a wool rug – they are much more durable. Silk rugs show wear from traffic very quickly and are better for areas where people rarely walk.

If you plan to use the rug more as a work of art – you plan to hang it on a wall, for example – a silk rug may be best because a silk rug isn’t as durable as one made of wool but does show more detail. Silk rugs often have a higher knot count than wool due to the finer nature of the fibers. This increase in labor means that many times silk rugs are more expensive than wool rugs.

Most handmade Persian rugs made today are crafted from fine wool (such as camel hair, Manchester or Kork wool). Relatively few authentic Persian rugs are made of silk today. Most on the market are antiques and therefore are rare, quite valuable and really shouldn’t be trod upon.

To choose a quality silk rug, check for the following:

  • You’ll want to make sure it’s actually made of silk. To tell if it is, pull a teeny strand of silk from the rug and burn it. If it’s silk, it should shrivel and smell like burned hair.
  • The rug should be very shiny when looking down its nap. The more noticeable the shine, the better the chances that the rug is really made of silk.
  • Note that some dealers use the term “art silk,” when talking about some rugs. This is not indicative of the artistry that went in to making the rug. Instead, it means “artificial silk.”

As for a wool rug, to make sure it’s of a high quality, check for the following:

  • While a wool rug shouldn’t be shiny, it should have a sheen or luster to it.
  • Be careful, however, because some poor quality wools are blended with artificial materials made from petroleum that falsely give the wool the sheen of a good quality wool. These wools will fall apart over time. They also can become smelly as the years go by, especially if laid on a heated floor.
  • You want to look for a rug with wool that has been hand-spun, if possible. Wools that were machine-spun are fine, but not as highly regarded. The good news is that a rug made of machine-spun wool won’t be as expensive as one that is crafted with hand-spun wool.

If you’re still unsure if a wool or a silk rug is right for you, discuss your needs with our rug experts. Stop by our showroom or call 972-733-0400 to schedule a tour.

Identify a Natural Silk Rug vs a Viscose Rayon Silk Rug

How to Differentiate a Genuine Natural Silk Rug from a Viscose Rayon Silk Rug

Handmade Pictorial Persian RugNatural Silk Rug Fibers

The most important way to identify natural silk rug fibers from viscose rayon silk rug fibers is the rug burn test. Visit Behnam Rugs in Dallas, Texas. We can help you with your silk rug testing.

When you gently remove a few fibers from the backside of a rug and light it, the natural silk will burn slowly with a faint glow. The burning fibers will curl into a ball with a similar smell of burning human hair.  Once you touch the ashes, they break into powder.  Finally, when leaving the flame, it stops burning immediately.

Viscose Rayon Rug Fibers

In comparison, viscose rayon rugs fibers will burn with a smell like burning paper. The soft ashes will drip and form a residue (not considered ash). It also produces black smoke. It will continue to burn even after the flame is taken away. Man-made silk rugs are extremely flammable.

Natural silk and viscose rayon are very similar to the untrained eye. Viscose is as shiny and soft as natural silk. Natural silk is usually priced ten times higher than artificial.

A soft and waxy feeling is a unique characteristic of real silk rug products.

Handmade natural silk rugs have an uneven woven pattern versus machine-made viscose rayon rugs; although both have a perfect look to the untrained eye.

Real silk rugs do not show fold lines because the fiber has flexibility. Yet viscose rayon rugs show folds and cannot be fixed. It will stay like that forever.

Washing Natural Silk Rugs

At Behnam Rugs, we specialize in professional rug cleaning, handwashing natural silk rugs delicately. We dry natural handmade Persian silk rugs and groom them to bring out their original characteristics. We use special organic shampoo. We also hand wash viscose rayon rugs.

If you have any questions please visit us at Behnam Rugs in Dallas, or simply give us a call at 972-733-0400.