Direct contact soils like sand and clay and other abrasive solids get tracked into the home on peoples’ shoes and sneakers. These “direct contact” soils are very abrasive and cut at the fibers of your rug, wearing away at them to reduce the rugs’ life. By giving your rugs a thorough vacuuming about once a week, you will remove most of this gritty soil, delaying the need for shampooing and prolonging the life of your rug. Eventually though some grit will work itself deep into the pile to the base of the knot and professional cleaning will be needed.
What kind of vacuum should I get?
Now let’s talk about equipment.
For the best cleaning job get yourself a vacuum cleaner with a motor-driven brush and beater bar. The combined action of vibration and suction makes this the best type. By contrast a suction only type cleaner or canister type without a brush or beater bar only removes surface litter or crumbs without loosening the embedded dirt. The same is true of a floor sweeper or electric broom. They are useful for quick touch ups, say after a family gathering, but will not get deep-down dirt.
You do not need to buy the most expensive vacuum to get the best cleaning effect. Consumer Guide Reports is a useful guide for identifying a quality tested vacuum and saving money. Be sure to replace the brushes before they become too worn. Also if you empty the vacuum cleaner bag when it is only half full the vacuum will operate more effectively.
Never use a broom on Oriental rugs: the sharp straws can do them damage. Old-fashioned carpet beaters should also be avoided as they can tear a rug’s foundation fibers.
How to vacuum an Oriental rug
As for vacuuming method, push and pull the vacuum in slow even strokes to allow it to pick up the embedded soil. In well trafficked areas, at least five strokes are need for a thorough vacuuming. Make all your final sweeps in the same direction ( the one with the least resistance ) to align the tufts laying flat. Do not suck up the fringes when you near the end of the rug as they can be torn or damaged. In fact, at the very end of the rug you should run the vacuum across the width thereby avoiding the fringes altogether. You can hand brush the fringes themselves.
A safe way to remove embedded soil from small rugs is to vacuum them from the back with your brush and beater bar vacuum cleaner. Once you have vacuumed the back you will want to remove the soil deposited on the floor; then give the face of the rug a good, thorough vacuuming. You will be amazed at how much dirt can be removed this way especially from hallway and front door rugs.
How do I tell if I need more than vacuuming?
You’ll need to inspect the rug close near the base of the fibers to look for dirt or grit that vacuuming has removed. If that is present or the color has changed, you need professional cleaning. You can get a full list of things to look for in our post on how to tell if your oriental carpet needs cleaning.