At Cape Fear Cleaning Solutions, we specialize in the cleaning and restoration of hand-made rugs. We understand the complexities and potential challenges that can occur when a rug is cleaned.
When an Oriental rug is cleaned in the home, potential cleaning issues cannot be adequately controlled. When the rug is cleaned at our facility, we have all the tools necessary to manage issues related to cleaning. That is why we clean all rugs at our facility, and not in the home.
How a Rug is Cleaned in the Home
The most common method used to clean rugs in the home is hot-water extraction, also known as steam cleaning. The technician starts by pre-treating the rug with a detergent. Then pressurized hot water is injected into the rug pile and immediately extracted with a vacuum system.
The next most common method of cleaning a rug in the home is low-moisture cleaning. This type of rug cleaning is often performed by applying a non-resoiling detergent to the rug, then a low-speed buffer with an absorbent pad is used on the rug to remove the soiling and detergents.
Both methods are useful in removing soils in the synthetic wall-to-wall carpet but very limited on rug cleaning— especially hand-made natural fiber rugs such as wool, cotton, or silk.
Yes, steam cleaning a rug in the home is quick and inexpensive, but it can potentially cause damage to a carpet. Here are some types of damage that can be caused by cleaning a rug in the home.
The first type of damage that can be caused is dye migration and color bleeding. Dye migration happens when colors from one part of the rug “bleed” into other parts of the carpet when the rug becomes wet. For example, red dyes bleeding into parts of the rug that are ivory. Color bleeding happens more often in hand-made rugs when the wool in the carpet was colored with vegetable dyes.
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, we have the means to control “bleeding” dyes through chemistry and copious amounts of water.
The second type of damage is pile distortion. Pile distortion is when the nap and pile of the rug are not groomed in the same direction, causing the appearance to be inconsistent.
Carpet steam cleaners often use steam wands and rotary machines that change the pile direction, leaving cleaning marks. Pile distortion isn’t necessarily a problem as long as the pile is groomed correctly in the same direction after the cleaning while the rug is still wet. However, if the carpet cleaner uses extremely hot water and exceptionally high water pressure, it can cause permanent pile distortion. The average carpet cleaner isn’t adequately trained to know when a rug pile needs to be groomed.
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, we groom the nap and fringe after it is cleaned, so all the pile is laying flat in the same direction.
The third type of damage is shrinkage or irregular shape. When hot water is used to clean a rug, the cotton foundation inside the carpet can potentially expand or shrink or both, just like a cotton shirt cleaned with hot water in the washing machine. The shrinkage won’t necessarily be consistent over the rug, what will happen is the edges of the carpet will not lay flat, and the rug will seem “wavy.”
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, hot water that causes irregular shapes is not used. All water is room temperature to warm.
Damage to the Home
The fourth type of damage is not damage to the rug, but damage to the floors the carpet is cleaned on. Rug detergents and hot water used by the technician can be over-sprayed onto the floors the rug is laying on. The equipment, water, and soap used can cause damage to hardwood floors.
Most carpet cleaners just aren’t educated enough to safely and adequately clean rugs, mainly hand-made and Oriental rugs. It is a highly technical and niche service that should be done by experienced rug washers.
Average carpet cleaners just aren’t aware which rugs will bleed or shrink. They don’t know when a rug pile should be groomed, and which direction to groom it, which is why companies like us exist. We specialize in cleaning delicate rugs, that can potentially “bleed” and shrink. We can identify rugs and prevent and fix these issues. And if these issues arise, we can fix them.