Guide to Carpet and Rug Care

Caring for rugs and carpets and cleaning rugs and carpets is easy and needs only simple materials. But note that the comments in this guide only apply to top quality wool rugs with good dyes: never attempt to clean an inexpensive silk carpet using these methods: you have been warned!

Cleaning rugs

Wool carpets are easier to clean than other fibers because it wool is non-absorbent and shrugs off water and dirt. This is because wool evolved to keep sheep warm and dry in all weathers. Vacuuming, water and soap are all that you need.

Daily carpet cleaning

Use a vacuum cleaner to clean your rug. Try not to get fringes (if you have them) snagged in the cleaner since this will fray them.


Most light stains and spills can be removed from rugs by blotting with paper towels then wiping with damp cotton toweling. For heavier stains, repeatedly sponge on water plus a little soap (diluted dishwashing liquid works well) and blot off again. Most stains can be removed this way, especially if you act fast, because they do not penetrate the wool fiber.

Pet urine

Sponge it away as quickly as you can by repeatedly wetting and blotting. Add a little vinegar to the water (not too much!) to neutralise and lessen the smell.

Discouraging pets

Get the carpet washed professionally to reduce the lanolin smell that pets like. You could also try spraying the rug with a scented air freshener since pets don't like this kind of smell.

Red wine

Blot as much red wine as you can off the rug immediately, then pour dry salt onto the remainder. Leave for a few minutes then vacuum the salt off. Repeat this several times. Finish by wiping the area with a dampened cotton towel as described above.

Overall greyness or extensive staining on rugs

If dirt is not removed by vacuum cleaner, you can wash your carpet with water and soap. You could do this on your driveway with a hosepipe, but we do not recommend this since handling and drying a large wet carpet is difficult. We suggest that you call in a professional carpet company that use water-based solutions. These companies now operate worldwide (including in Beijing and Shanghai) and their ads can be found in local magazines.

Color fastness during washing

If you have a handmade wool carpet of good quality (such as a Torana Tibetan rug or a rug made by the Michaelian and Kohlberg company) you can be confident that the colors will not run during washing. But if your rug is of another type, or an old/antique carpet you should check its color fastness first by damping a dark colored area (especially deep reds and blacks) and then pressing a white cotton cloth against it to see if any color transfers. Whether color running turns out to be a serious issue also depends whether the rug has white/ light colors that the dyes may run into. If the rug just has to be cleaned you may just need to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Moth on carpets

Not a big problem with new rugs, unless the wool is of poor quality or has not been washed properly at the factory. Moth don't like being disturbed, so rugs that are vacuumed and moved from time to time will not attract them. But if you store a carpet rolled up you should use mothballs or other insect repellant.

Getting rid of carpet moth

Treat the rug with insect spray (roach killer works fine) then get the whole rug washed professionally.

Carpet fading

Good quality dyes will not fade in normal indoor conditions. But no rug likes strong sunlight, so keep them away from direct sun. NOTE: cheap synthetic dyes, especially on the "Persian style" silk rugs that are sold in China, will fade badly in light or run if washed.

Storing and shipping rugs

Roll your carpets up, including some mothballs (paper wrapped) or other insect repellant as you roll them. Store somewhere where the air can circulate and inspect the rugs 2-3x each year, especially in summer. If the rug is too large to roll you can also fold it, but this can leave foldlines on the rug if left for long periods. We suggest to avoid using plastic, especially if the weather is humid when you pack the rug.
For shipping rugs that will be in a container for several months we recommend the same method: roll the carpet and pack in card and paper (standard shipping company materials). Rugs can be folded for short trips but we don't recommend this for longer periods.