How to Clean Persian Rugs

Your genuine, handmade and authentic Persian rug is a big investment. You want it to remain beautiful no matter how long you have it, which could be a lifetime or longer. There are some steps you can take to prevent permanent stains from ruining your Persian rug.

In this guide we are going to not only share with you how to take care of your rugs and how you can best protect your rug from stains, but we also provide you with the best Persian rug cleaning tips from our experts.

If a stain persists after your attempt to clean it and if you are based in Sydney, feel free to get in touch for our professional Persian rug cleaning service.

Preventing Stains & Protecting Your Persian Rug

You know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Well, that applies to Persian rugs as well. Keeping your rug clean and taking some steps to mitigate excess dirt from forming in the fibres can make stain removal easier.
One way of keeping a lot of dirt from getting in and on your rug is to leave it at the door. Taking your shoes off when you enter from the outside will prevent all the outdoor debris, mud, and whatever you’ve picked up walking outside, even from the car to the front door. Make it a practice for everyone in the home to walk barefoot or in stocking feet while indoors. This will prevent not only dirt, pollutants, bacteria and the like from getting ground in to the rug fibres, but also save on wear and tear on the rug.
You should also vacuum your Persian rug regularly, at least once a week. This will remove crumbs, dust and debris that’s accumulated in the fibres. It also provides an opportunity to notice if there are areas that are stiff or discoloured, meaning possible spills have occurred. Prompt treatment of those affected areas can prevent a permanent stain from forming.

Cautions on Cleaning Persian Rugs

You can treat spills and stains on your Persian carpet, but make sure you’re aware of the manufacturer’s instructions. After all, you don’t want to risk ruining your expensive antique Persian rug. Therefore, it’s always best to check the rug for cleaning recommendations before you start. Use the gentlest cleaning method and as little cleaning solution possible. Be gentle, don’t scrub the area. Follow a ritual of spray, dab, blot, suction, dry. If you are uncertain whether you can clean your rug yourself without damaging it further, always consult with a professional oriental rug manufacturer for guidance.

Before And After Persian Rug Cleaning
[Before and After Persian Rug Cleaning Depiction – Persian Rug Cleaning Done By Bijan Exclusive Rugs]

How to Clean a Persian Rug?

Regardless of how careful you are, you or someone else will most likely drop or spill something on your Persian rug. Some dry substances can simply be vacuumed up, but others may need prompt treatment to prevent stains from forming.

Here are the best ways to clean a Persian rug:

  1. Clean it quickly. This step is by far the most important one in preventing stains. The longer it is left untreated, the more the spills or substances get embedded in the fibres, making it difficult to remove.
  2. Blot up excess liquid from spills. Using a clean, white, absorbent cloth or paper towel, blot up the liquid, first on the top side of the carpet, then on the back. It’s important to use a white cloth to prevent colour running from the cloth, and to blot, not rub! Rubbing will spread the stain and push it further into the rug’s pile and cause abrasion of the fibres.
  3. Scoop up solid substances. If the spill is not liquid, but cannot be vacuumed up, scoop it up with a spoon or other utensil. Try not to push the substance into the fibres if possible. If there is any residue remaining, either vacuum (if dry) or dab with a clean, white cloth.
  4. Dampen dried spills. If the liquid spill has already dried, dampen it with a clean spray bottle. Don’t pour water on it, as it will just require more drying.
  5. Use the least harsh and minimal amount of cleaning agents. Try spraying a small mist of water and dabbing with the clean white cloth first. If that doesn’t remove it, there are other solutions you can try as follows:
    • Mild detergent and water. Mix a small amount of dishwashing liquid with water (½ teaspoon to 1 quart of water) pour some into a spray bottle. Make sure the detergent does not contain bleach or lanolin. Dawn or Joy with no additives are good choices. Mist the area and proceed as with regular water.
    • Mix ⅓ cup of white vinegar with ⅔ cup water.
    • Mix 1 tablespoon of clear household ammonia with ½ cup of water.
    • Vinegar, detergent, and water. Mix ¼ cup white vinegar, ½ teaspoon mild dishwashing liquid and 2 cups tepid water. Mist with spray bottle and clean as described above.
    • 3% hydrogen peroxide can be used in some situations.
  6. Pre-test before using any cleaning substance. Some Persian rugs may be coloured with dyes that could run or fade when cleaned with certain cleaning solutions. Test any the solution on a small area of the rug that is more inconspicuous. NEVER USE BLEACH to clean your Persian rug. Bleach may be effective in removing some stubborn stains on white or colourfast materials, but will fade the dyes in the fibres of the rug.
  7. Blot between cleaning applications. Usually, plain water is recommended; however, some stains may need stronger substances or require multiple applications. If so, you should blot the excess liquid after each step. Press the clean white cloth firmly down onto the surface of the rug and hold until no more liquid is absorbed. You may need to use several cloths if there is a lot of excess liquid.
  8. Clean large spills outdoors. If the area needing cleaning is rather large, you can clean the rug outdoors, weather permitting. You can use your garden hose to wet the stain and then apply the cleaning solution needed.
  9. Dry the rug completely. It’s important to dry the rug as soon as possible. You can do this safely using a fan or hair dryer. Do not let it dry in the sun, as that can cause fading.
Persian Rug Stain Example - Best Way to Clean Persian Rug
[Example of oil grease stain on Persian rug from a Bijan Exclusive Rugs customer – Bijan’s team managed to successfully remove the stain and the customer was very happy]

Stains that Need Special Treatment

Come substances that are spilled on your Persian rug may be more difficult to remove than others. We’ve covered a few specific ones here with some possible solutions.

  1. Red wine will probably cause panic when it’s spilled over your beautiful Persian rug. Some steps to mitigate the stain from becoming permanent are as follows:
    • Pour white wine over the spill. That’s right–white wine will neutralize the red wine, making it easier and more effective to treat. Club soda can work as well, but white wine seems to work better.
    • Blot up excess liquid gently and completely.
    • Cover area with a ¼ inch thick layer of regular table salt. Don’t skimp on the salt–if after you pour it on it still looks damp, dump more on top until the surface appears dry.
    • Let stand overnight or until completely dry.
    • Scoop up salt pieces and vacuum.
  2. Vomit on your rug can not only stain it but cause very unpleasant odors that remain if not removed completely. Here are some solutions to treat this specific situation.
    • Scoop up as much of the larger particles as you can with a spoon or spatula.
    • Blot the area with a clean, damp white cloth.
    • Mix ½ cup of water with 1 tablespoon of ammonia in a clean spray bottle.
      — or —
    • Mix ⅓ cup of white vinegar with ⅔ cup of water in a spray bottle.
    • Spray the solution on the stain to neutralize it. Blot with paper towels or clean white cloth.
    • Mix ¼ teaspoon of mild dishwashing detergent with a quart of water in a bowl. Using a paper towel or clean white cloth, apply the mixture over the stain, making sure to dab it on, not rub it in. If cloths get soiled, replace with clean ones.
    • Spray the area with clean water and blot it up, repeating the process until the stain is gone. Spray once again with clean water, then place a clean, white, dry cloth over it and hold it with a weight to soak up more water. (Paper weights, bricks, rocks or anything similarly heavy will work.) Let stand for about an hour.
    • Allow to dry completely.
  3. Pet accidents can result in stains on your Persian rug. Here are some tips on treating pet urine on your carpet.
    • Mix ⅓ cup of white vinegar with ⅔ cup of water in a spray bottle.
    • Spray the solution on the stain to neutralize it. Blot with paper towels or clean white cloth.
    • Repeat process until stain is gone.
    • Dry area completely.
  4. Ballpoint pen ink can be removed by soaking it with hairspray. Once that dries, spray with vinegar and water solution, blot up excess, and let dry.
  5. Oil, butter or grease need special dry cleaning solvents to remove the materials. Blot and/or brush after applying.
  6. Soft drinks, coffee and tea can be treated using a solution of 1 tablespoon of mild dishwashing detergent, ⅓ cup of vinegar and ⅔ cup of water.

Keep a Persian Rug Cleaning Kit Handy

Because you never know when spills and accidents will happen, it’s good to have certain cleaning items available for cleanup. Here are some suggestions for the contents of your cleaning kit.

  • Several clean, white, absorbent cloths or rolls of white paper towels
  • A large white sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • White wine
  • Hairspray
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Dry cleaning solvent.
  • Several clean spray bottles. You can have some filled with appropriate solutions (water mixed with right amounts of vinegar, ammonia, dishwashing soap).

Stains that Cannot be Removed

There are some spills that cause stains that cannot be removed, as they permanently alter the carpet’s colour. These include:

  • Acids / Toilet Bowl Cleaners
  • Acne Medications
  • Alkaline Drain Cleaners
  • Chlorinated Bleaches
  • Colored Hair Dyes
  • Iodine
  • Insecticides
  • Mustard with Tumeric
  • Plant Fertilizers

How to Get a Coffee Stain Out of a Rug?

Dive into our video guide below to discover the most effective techniques for cleaning a coffee stain on your Persian rug.

Professional Persian Rug Cleaning at Bijan Exclusive Rugs

If you are in doubt about how to treat stains on your Persian carpets, Bijan can answer them! Contact us today for guidance on caring for your investments, or to schedule a professional carpet cleaning to keep your rugs beautiful and lasting for decades!

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