Saturday, February 19, 2011

Angie's Advice: Cleaning prized Oriental rug a specialized process for a pro

Billi Andrews spent several years searching for just the right company to clean the Oriental rug she "fell in love with" when she bought it in Miami Beach, Fla., more than 30 years ago.
"It's gorgeous," said Andrews, who lives in Mooresville. "It hadn't been cleaned in so many years."
Valuable handmade rugs should be cleaned only as needed, and it's best to have a professional do the job.
"A rug can cost several hundred dollars or tens of thousands of dollars," said Jeff Hendricks, owner of Smith-Mathis, a cleaning services company in Fishers. "Even a rug that's only a few hundred dollars, you don't want to replace it. You want to get good use out of it. It's something you don't want to clean improperly and ruin the value."
Typically made of wool, silk, rayon, cotton or a blend of non-synthetic fibers, Oriental rugs vary widely in the materials and dyes used to make them, so they respond differently to various cleaning methods. Never entrust a high-end rug to just anyone for cleaning. A professional should test the rug to ensure the proper method is used in its cleaning.
"The rugs we get in here are from all over the world," said Scott Simmons, general manager of Heirloom Oriental Rug Cleaning in Indianapolis. "A lot of the rugs we clean are quite old. So significant care has to be taken with how you clean them."
Simmons recalled a situation in which one customer attempted to shampoo an Oriental rug on his own. The colors from the maroon rug faded onto the homeowner's off-white carpet.
"He didn't have the knowledge to clean it to keep that from happening," Simmons said. "We incorporate the right type of chemistry to prevent color run and bleeding."
A professional cleaning can cost between $200 and $600, depending on the type of rug and the work being done. Repairs also can be made to most rugs.
Hendricks offers recommendations for maintaining an Oriental rug, including vacuuming it frequently and rotating it regularly so it wears evenly.
"A rug that's in a high-traffic area needs to be cleaned a lot more than a rug in a room that just gets occasional use," Hendricks said. "A valuable rug probably should not be used close to the entry of the home, because a lot of chemicals -- especially salt or outdoor solvents -- can get on the rug. It's usually good to have a mat under the rug. That keeps it in place, so it doesn't move around a lot. It will last longer."
Simmons said he's tackled about every type of stain, from pet damage to a family's rug collection that was heavily soot-damaged from a fire.
"You can imagine the odor," Simmons said. "The rugs were almost completely black, but we were able to fully restore those."
Though Oriental rugs can range widely in value, it's often the personal attachment the owners have that matters most.
"A lot of the rugs that come in here have a story behind them," Simmons said.
"One customer told me her kids used to use the borders as a racecar track. No two rugs are exactly the same.
"The whole reason we call ourselves 'Heirloom' is because a lot of these rugs have sentimental value or have been passed on and it's important for the customer to know that whoever cleans them is going to take care of them."
Angie Hicks is a Fishers resident and founder of Angie's List, a national provider of ratings in more than 500 categories of service. www.angieslist.com.

Related topics: Oriental Rug Cleaning Austin
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