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Care and Keeping of Vintage Rugs

Design by Amber Interior Design | Photo by Tessa Neustadt

One of your most frequently asked questions is in regards to the care of your vintage and antique rugs, and understandably so. A large rug is an investment, but that doesn't mean it needs to be handled delicately. Vintage rugs are actually quite resilient, and with some common-sense care-taking, can remain a beautiful fixture in your home for years to come.

A rug's best asset is the material from which it is made, and in the case of my rugs, the pile is made from wool. The spring-like fibers offer greater bulk, density, and elasticity than synthetic fibers, which increases the rug's resilience. A wool rug will retain its original appearance much longer than a rug made from synthetic or other less-durable materials. Wool is also naturally stain- and soil-resistant, anti-bacterial, hypo-allergenic, and non-toxic!

A rug pad is your first line of defense in caring for your rug. Without one, dirt and silica get into the rug's foundation and will be forced to grind away at the backing's cotton fibers like a mortar and pestle. Invest in a pad, no matter the size of your rug.

vintage rug Passerine Home

 

In a busy home, accidents and spills will happen, so here is how to deal with the most common offenders.

A musty smell.

Like any vintage or antique item, old rugs can smell, well, old. Particularly if it came to you wrapped in plastic. The best remedy for this is to roll it out to let the fibers breathe, and most likely the smell will be gone in 2-3 days. If not, I recommend a gentle scent neutralizer such as Febreeze Fabric Refresher.

General maintenance.

A rug that is rolled out and kept dry needs little maintenance. A weekly vacuuming is fine, just be sure to keep the beater bar up to reduce excess friction and run the vacuum width-wise to avoid catching the fringe in the suction.

vintage rug Passerine Home

Photo by Urban Chic Media

Wet stains.

Wool pile is naturally stain-resistant, so prompt blotting of a spill is often enough to save the day! If your spill is more stubborn (a pet stain, for example) scoop up what you can, then sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda and let it rest for 15 minutes (this will help absorb what is left behind). Then, vacuum the spot. If the stain remains, mix one tablespoon mild dish detergent and one tablespoon white vinegar into two cups of warm water and blot, blot, blot! Once everything is absorbed, sponge the area with cold water to rinse, and then blot dry.

Red wine stains.

Children and pets are not the only culprits, as wine spills can happen to the best of us. When it does, neutralize the wine by pouring either white wine or vodka (really!) over the stain and then immediately blot until it is clean. I have not personally tried the product Wine Away, but I know that many swear by it.

vintage rug Passerine Home

Design by The Identité Collective | Photo by Madeline Harper

Stubborn stains.

If you have exhausted the above efforts and have a stain that persists, it may be time to call in the professionals. I highly recommend calling a local antique rug shop or dealer to ask who they use for cleaning, and then check online reviews before proceeding. Expect to pay somewhere between $4-8 per square foot. If you cannot find a trustworthy cleaner near you, I can facilitate getting your rug to my own trusted cleaner.

If you are still concerned about caring for a rug but would like to purchase one, I can add a one-time stain protection treatment to anything in my shop at the time of purchase. And don't forget, with my custom sourcing service, we can find a rug that will fit your space perfectly.

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