Stage of cleaning:
2. Dust removal
4. Shampoo and cleaning
7. Hand Finishing
The benefits of using our specialist cleaning system over a company that clean rugs and carpets in the home are many. Firstly, and most importantly, the steps we take to remove hard and ingrained dirt and dust before cleaning is actually the most important step in the rug cleaning process and is completely overlooked by most. Of course when having your Persian or Oriental rug cleaned it is important for the rug to look fresher, however, the health of the rug has got to be the priority. It is this fine dust and dirt that wears away at the foundation of the carpet, damaging the fibres of ther foundation over time. Without removing this the rug is not truly clean and the lasting benefits to its lifespan are not gained. Also, if the dust and dirt are not removed prior to washing, the rug can often look dirty again very quickly. This is called ‘wicking’ and is caused by the dirt and dust in the foundation moving up the clean top section of the pile making the cleaning results short lasting.
We use the highest quality wool safe Oriental carpet shampoo and cleaning products and materials, specifically designed for high quality wool and natural dyes. Removing colour run from a careless wash is difficult and often impossible, so it is best to get it right the first time. At Little-Persia we live and breathe handmade rugs so you safe in the knowledge that we take every precaution possible to ensure that your rug or rugs are washed with all the respect and care they deserve.
Before cleaning your rug we will assess it to ensure there is no structural damage or dry rot and examine any damage to the fringes or sides of the carpet so we can give you a quotation for any recommended repair work (we always recommend any small areas of damage be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent spreading). We then look to see what materials the rug is made from, whether wool or silk, and how colour-fast the dyes are, which in turn determines the cleaning process and strength and types of cleaning solution that we are able to use.
Once the condition, materials and colour fastness of the dyes are established we are able to move on to the dusting process.
We also provide moth damage treatment and control – if you believe your rug is infested with months or if we find moths in your rug you should have it dealt with as quickly as possible to prevent spread. See our moth damage guide. We ask that if you know your rug has a moth problem or larvae infestation of any kind that you inform us before bringing the rug to the shop and have it packaged securely in plastic wrapping to prevent any cross contamination.
If you wish to treat your rug at home for moth issues we offer a specialized moth spray which kills the larvae and eggs in the rug (up to 25m2 coverage) and a moth trap which attracts the adult male moth in order to stop the mating and breeding cycle.
handmade rug colour run testing
The results of a colour fastness test for a particularly difficult rug with red and green dyes which were not colour fast. You can see the results of from our normal mixture down to a much more sensitive solution used for this rug.
2. Dust Removal
Even with regular vacuuming a rug is a trap for fine dirt and dust. Wool is a natural air filter removing bacteria, dampness and dust from the air which is great, but once clogged up the benefits are redundant. With years of use, layer upon layer of dust can settle into the rugs’ foundations, this dust and dirt is not only bad for humans and pets but as it settles deep into the foundations it can cause the rug to become hard and, over time, the foundations can become brittle. Tiny grains of dirt can be extremely abrasive, slowly cutting into and through the strands of cotton and wool that make up a rugs warp and weft.
Little-Persia is unique in Scotland that we use a purpose-built rug beating machine developed to remove the maximum amount of dirt and dust from a rug before washing. Our Rug Beater beats and vibrates the rug at over 15,000 vibrations a minute, gently and effectively removing particles of deep lying dust. Up to a third of the weight of a well soiled rug can be trapped moisture and dust, highlighting the need for professional cleaning every 4-5 years. Not only does the Rug Beater remove the dust from the foundations but it prevents any dirt from spreading into the pile when wet. Unique to our custom made Rug Beating machine is the addition of a speed control, allowing us dust even older or antique rugs which are suffering from weak foundations safely and effectively.
Rug beating and removing the dust is mostly over-looked by those who do not specialize in hand-knotted rug cleaning, and many of those who do, without the proper equipment, the process is extremely physical and labour intensive. The longest we have ever spent dusting a rug has been 6 hours, doing this manually would have taken 4 or 5 times as long making it prohibitive to those without the correct equipment. Removing the dirt and grime at this stage means the rug can be properly washed and should remain clean for a longer period of time. It also lengthens the lifespan of the rug by keeping the foundations clean, healthy and clear of debris.
Manual rug beating and dusting
Beating the rug the manual way produces fine dust and dirt, harmful to the rug’s structure, vacuuming alone will not remove this. But this is a time-consuming and physical process…
Persian rug dusting
Just a small amount of the dust removed from this mat-sized rug.
vacuuming a Chinese rug
We have to vacuum too! Vacuums are not just for the home, after beating the rug is vacuumed back and front. This process is repeated several times until no more dust is produced during beating.
dust produced after rug beating
The dust produced from beating and vacuuming just a few rugs. It’s amazing how much better the rugs feel to hand and how much more flexible they are just after dusting.
3. Spot Cleaning
Often rugs will come in with stains or areas needing particular attention or care. The stains will be carefully treated using specialist chemicals to remove, as much as possible, the stain from the carpet. We cannot guarantee results of stain removal, all we can do is promise we will try all we can to remove or reduce the area and severity of the stain. Stains such as red wine, pet urine, tea and coffee are all common and can be removed if not ‘set’. It is always better to have these stains removed as quickly as possible as results lessen as time goes by. Also, knowing what caused a stain can be crucial as attempting to remove a stain, using the wrong method can cause it to set making it more difficult or impossible to remove.
An ivory coloured rug with a few areas of old coffee stains.
The back of the same rug showing the stain going straight through to the rear of this Tunisian rug.
As with any stain, the quicker it is dealt with the easier it is to remove. If you do spill something on your rug spoon up the excess liquid, try to blot it, dilute it then blot it again until you cannot get more out of the rug (do not rub!). Also, do not use hot water, warm is usually ok but hot water can open the pores of the wool and allow the stain to get into the root of the pile.
Once the rug has been thoroughly dusted and any stains treated the washing begins. First the rug is pre-sprayed with a cleaning detergent that agitates any dirt and grease as well as helping to prevent any colour run or dye migration on more sensitive rugs. It also maintains the luster of the wool and prevents the natural oils from being stripped by the cleaning process. The rug is then washed using a specialist fine fabric and wool oriental carpet shampoo imported from Germany and wool-safe cleaning agents used to remove surface dirt and freshen the pile of the carpet. This is normally done using a slow speed rotary machine in order to get deep into the pile of the rug and thoroughly clean the carpet, however this may be done by hand if the rug is particularly fragile or old. The crystallizing shampoo used means it continues to clean for a period after the initial cleaning, any remnants of the shampoo collect dirt and dust which is then removed as the rug is vacuumed.
rotary shampooing oriental rug
The rotary machine on a matted rug. This rug was particularly dirty and needed a more abrasive cleaning to release the grime so a bristle brush attachment rather than bonnet mop was used.
Persian rug cleaning shampoo
You can already see the colours brightening and getting stronger as years worth of dirt and grime are cleaned from this handmade Yazd rug.
If the rug exhibited a degree of colour run in the initial tests then gentler solutions are used and may be applied by hand. At this stage the shampoo and cleaning agents are worked deep into the carpets pile.
handmade rug cleaning by hand
Hand-cleaning is sometimes necessary if the rug has issues with colour run, a more sensitive approach is needed if dyes are liable to migrate.
Once the rug has had a deep clean and shampoo the solution must be rinsed. Our specialist rug cleaning machines allow us to inject high pressure jets of water with a PH neutralizing rinse agent deep into the rug while at the same time high-powered vacuums draw the dirty waste water back out. This extraction method gets deep into the pile of the rug and removes an incredible amount of dirt and dust while the powerful vacuums allow the rug to dry faster, ensuring the integrity of the rugs’ foundations. The solution sets the colours in the rug to ensure they do not bleed when drying by restoring the PH levels back to their original state after the use of alkaline cleaning products. The rinse agent removes any excess shampoo and chemicals, leaving the carpet with a natural shine.
rinse extraction of oriental rug
Our rinse & extract machine shoots a high pressure stream of rinse solution and water deep into the rug while simultaneously wet-vacuuming the solution along with the now dirty shampoo. This process removes more dirt and ensures there is no dye migration as well as partially drying the rug.
dust produced after rug beating
This is the tank where the extracted liquid goes, not a pretty sight. The colour of the water speaks for itself here – this is the level of dirt and grime which our process removes from your rug.
dust produced after rug beating
This is the water when we remove it from the tank – this bucket is what came out of just one rug.
After clean water extraction, the liquids used in the cleaning process are removed from the rug. It is then left to dry naturally with the aid of a fan which helps the drying process without damaging it by drying out the wool and also helps the rug to air. Before drying, the rug is brushed with a pile brush to ensure the pile or nap all dries in the same direction. The drying process can take several days depending on the size and thickness of the carpet.
7. Hand Finishing
Once dried the rug is hand finished to ensure any strands of high-pile are carefully clipped. Often during or after cleaning, piles of the rug which are longer than others will show up, these are safely clipped down to the correct size using the same clipping method that the weavers go through when the rug is first taken off the loom. This is particularly needed for rugs which have been knotted using hand-spun or hand-worsted wool, this wool is twisted by hand and often the pile can twist back on itself (forming an upside down U shape) meaning it is missed during initial clippings, these can loosen off over time or during cleaning and should be clipped down to size to prevent them from being pulled, this does not damage the carpet. Rugs are then given a final luster wash if required by using a solution to help restore and refresh the natural oils in the wool. We also treat the fringes to give them a fresher appearance before returning the rug, looking years younger, to its home.