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A Guide to Preventing Damage to Your Oriental Rug
September 4, 2014
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Preserving your handmade Oriental rug is likely very important to you, as these items are valuable and beautiful. They require that you take some steps to safeguard them, to prevent common issues from damaging your beautiful rug. You need to be especially vigilant when it comes to moth and water damage, as these can ruin your Oriental rug, if not attended to quickly. Yet, the best policy is to prevent these from occurring in the first place, which will ensure that your rug last for years to come. So, to help you learn steps you can take to keep your rug in excellent shape, let’s cover these two types of damage in more detail below.

Moth Damage

Moth Damage

Though you may associate moth damage with garments hanging in your closet or stored in a trunk, they can also damage your Oriental rug if you’re not careful. While full-grown moths will not feast upon your rug directly, female moths will use your rug as a place to lay their eggs. This can cause a significant problem, as they lay great amounts of eggs. These will eventually hatch, and moth larvae eat both silk and wool. As your Oriental rug is doubtlessly made from one of these two materials, you can see that quelling any moth infestation is critical.

Oriental

Identifying an Infestation

There are some telltale signs which you can look for, which will give you clues as to whether moths are present. In terms of adult moths, these are typically brown and quite small – less than half an inch long. However, when it comes to protecting your Oriental rug, it is larva which you must worry about. If you do have an infestation, you will see signs of their presence, as they eat various types of fibers.

For example, you’ll likely notice bare spots on your rugs, though these may not be consistent. How so? Moth larva many times will choose a color of fabric which they like better, which may have to do with the dye or material used. In a full-blown infestation you should see filaments of gossamer spreading out in a web-like pattern upon your rug.

 

Other signs you can search for are their excretions, which take the form of little granules that look like sand. After eating the silk or wool in your rug, this is the waste material which they produce. You may even be able to identify the larva themselves, which look like tiny white grains of rice. Finally, the larva will form cocoons so that they can complete their metamorphosis into a full-grown moth. These are quite small and will likely match the colors of your rug, as the larva will attempt to camouflage themselves.

Prevention Tips

Regularly vacuuming your Oriental rug can make a significant difference, as it does not allow the larva to take hold. While you may already perform this important step, you probably don’t flip your rug over and vacuum the underside. To prevent a month infestation, your best bet is to vacuum the hard surface underneath your Oriental rug, your pad and the underside of your rug a few times per year at minimum. For very large rugs which are difficult to flip over, you can simply vacuum the underside along the edges instead.

Common measures to prevent moth infestations of your garments have no effect upon your Oriental rug. This means that putting down mothballs, crystals or flakes won’t keep your valuable rug from falling prey to these pests. Why is this the case? All of these products are simply designed to repel moths, and they do nothing to kill the larva.

Oriental Rugs

For this reason, to ensure that you do not experience an infestation, you have to take different steps for any areas where you cannot vacuum the surface regularly. This includes Oriental rugs which are beneath heavy furniture, or a rug which you have chosen to display upon your wall. As you cannot vacuum these rugs easily, you may be looking for another option.

Fortunately, there are some special insecticide sprays, which have been made expressly for the purpose of killing moth larva. Be sure that you find one which is non-staining, as you don’t want to damage your rug. The most common active ingredient within these types of products are pyrethrins, and you should know that this is a poisonous substance. If you are at all sensitive to environmental toxins, you should use these types of products with great care. However, these have been approved for use within your home, as the pyrethrins disperse quickly.

Water Damage

As you likely already know, many Oriental rugs are crafted from wool fibers. What you may not be aware of is that many use a cotton backing for their foundation. While the wool may not suffer damage if your Oriental rugs gets wet often, this cotton material can start to decompose. What are common sources of water that you must take care to prevent?

Oriental Rugs

Indoor Plants

Indoor plants are often placed upon Oriental rugs, and this can create a smart design that will enhance your home’s décor. However, where there are living plants there is water, and this can lead to problems. When you water your plants sometimes this liquid can filter down through the potting soil, and leak out through the bottom. Bear in mind that water damage can occur very quickly (in as little as two weeks), if the water is constantly present. In just a short amount of time the fibers in your rug can deteriorate to such an extent, that you will be able to easily pull out strands by hand.

To solve this problem, rather than putting your potted plants directly upon your Oriental rug, place them upon another service instead. This can be as simple as purchasing a plastic tray, that is designed to sit below your potted plant – which has a raised lip that will catch any water.

Oriental Rugs

Basement Seepage

If you place your Oriental rug in your basement, you should be aware that this area of your home is particularly susceptible to water problems. While a flooded basement is a clear issue that you have to deal with quickly, it is probably not the most common form of water damage to occur to a rug. Instead, the floor of your basement may be a little damp, constantly inundating your rug with moisture. You can’t always tell that this is the case, simply by running your hand across the floor.

How can you tell if your rug is being damaged, if you can’t detect the moisture easily? The best way is to bend and roll a small section of your rug, and if it is unusually stiff this means that moisture is present. You may also hear the rug’s backing making popping or cracking sounds when you bend it, which is another clue.

If you find this to be the case, the only surefire remedy is to remove your rug from the affected area. In this type of scenario, it is best not to take chances, and you should simply remove your Oriental rug from the basement completely. This will ensure that no damage occurs, so you can enjoy your beautiful rug for many years to come.

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