Preserving the Worth of Your Antique Carpets

We have all seen beautiful Oriental carpets worn to shreds, discolored, cracked, stained, stretched out of shape and visited with all possible manner of abuse and indignity that go with age and neglect.

Well, this needn’t be so. Unlike ourselves, carpets, properly loved, can stay forever young, preserving their beauty and value. Here is a list of common offenders and corrections.

Household traffic: The way you move around the house tends to wear rugs out in some spots and not in others. The damage, called uneven wear in rug trade-and a sure killer of value-is usually extensive and hard to fix. Most antique rugs have some amount traffic pattern wear, which could easily be ameliorated by a simple method: Turn the rug around at least once a year.

Household Traffic

Wear and Tear: Damage from household traffic, called uneven wear in rug trade – and a sure killer of value – is usually extensive and hard to fix.

Sun: Most valuable commodity in a house, light, will most certainly devalue your Orientals as fast as you can say summer solstice. The damage, called sun fading, is easily prevented by plantation shutters, heavier curtains and UV filter films placed over windows. Turn your rug over and compare the colors of the face and the back since the fading is a gradual process, and we usually don’t notice it until is late.

Water: But not just any water, since the color in most antique carpets will not run by simple contact with water. Rugs can be washed and dried over a fence just like your sweater, no problem there. The problem comes in a form of a potted plant placed on your rug in just the right spot and lovingly-you guessed it, watered… for years. What you will discover one fine day when you decide to take your ficus for a walk is that philosophically speaking, while your carpet clearly is, the spot is not! It has vanished, turned to dust or near dust. To repair a hole about 16 inches in diameter on a carpet of average knot density will set you back about $1,000-$2,000. Tell this to the ficus as you get it of the rug onto a proper platform.

Dust: Sometimes worse than water, especially on very finely knotted rugs, the kind you’re too afraid to vacuum for fear of damaging them (and for a good reason, too, as you’ll soon see). Dust chokes fine Orientals, especially fine and thick Orientals such as Saruks and Bijars, both made in Persia and very popular in the United States. As these rugs get heavier with dust their cotton foundation loses elasticity, and often develops dry rot resulting in cracking and splitting. This is fatal for a rug; the equivalent of a cancer diagnosis. Remedy: The rugs should be vacuumed weekly with a brushless vacuum cleaner and daily with manual carpet sweeper. But the best method to get rid of dust is to vacuum rugs from the back with an upright, Hoover type, vacuum cleaner with brushes at least once a year. Drag the rug out on the patio, flip it over, and slowly vacuum the back side. Some of the dust will be picked up by the vacuum, but a huge amount will just be shaken out of the rug and onto the patio. Sweep the dust and now vacuum the rug the regular way, from the top. Repeat for a very dusty carpet.

Vacuum Cleaner

Killer Vacuums: More carpets are ruined by vacuum cleaners – also known as carpet fringe eaters – than by dirt.

Vacuum Cleaners: This brings us to vacuum cleaners, also known as carpet fringe eaters. More carpets are ruined by vacuuming than by dirt. Use brushless vacuums, as brushes chew on the edges of carpets. Use old-fashioned manual carpet sweepers. They are gentle on the carpet, don’t kick dust in the air, are easy on your back, and cost nothing to operate. Do not vacuum delicate, soft rugs with wool foundation, such as fine Oriental tribal textiles. They should be gently shaken, and hand brushed.

With an ounce prevention and common sense, our oriental rugs should outlive us all.

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