At Kansas City Rug Cleaning, we specialize in the cleaning and restoration of hand-made rugs. We understand the complexities and potential problems that can occur when a rug is cleaned.
When an Oriental rug is cleaned in the home, potential cleaning issues cannot be adequately controlled. When the rug is cleaned at our facility, we have all the tools necessary to manage issues related to cleaning. That is why we clean all rugs in-plant, and not in the home. In this article, we will explain the differences between having a rug cleaned in the house vs. having a rug cleaned a professional rug washing facility.
How a Rug is Cleaned in the Home
The most common method that’s used to clean rugs in the home is hot-water extraction, also known as steam cleaning. The technician starts by pre-treating the rug with a detergent. Then pressurized hot water is injected into the rug pile and immediately extracted out with a vacuum system.
The next most common method of cleaning a rug in the home is low-moisture cleaning. This type of rug cleaning is often performed by applying a non-resoiling detergent to the rug, then a low-speed buffer with an absorbent pad is used on the rug to remove the soiling and detergents.
Both methods are useful in removing soils in the synthetic wall-to-wall carpet but very limited on rug cleaning— especially hand-made natural fiber rugs such as wool, cotton, or silk.
Yes, steam cleaning a rug in the home is quick and inexpensive, but it can potentially cause damage to a carpet. Here are some types of damage that can be caused by cleaning a rug in the home.
The first type of damage that can be caused is dye migration and color bleeding. Dye migration happens when colors from one part of the rug “bleed” into other parts of the carpet when the rug becomes wet. For example, red dyes bleeding into parts of the rug that are ivory. Color bleeding happens more often in hand-made rugs when the wool in the carpet was colored with vegetable dyes.
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, we have the means to control “bleeding” dyes through chemistry and copious amounts of water.
The second type of damage is pile distortion. Pile distortion is when the nap and pile of the rug are not groomed in the same direction, causing the appearance to be inconsistent.
Carpet steam cleaners often use steam wands and rotary machines that change the pile direction, leaving cleaning marks. Pile distortion isn’t necessarily a problem as long as the pile is groomed correctly in the same direction after the cleaning while the rug is still wet. However, if the carpet cleaner uses extremely hot water and exceptionally high water pressure, it can cause permanent pile distortion. The average carpet cleaner isn’t adequately trained to know when a rug pile needs to be groomed.
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, we groom the nap and fringe after it is cleaned, so all the pile is laying flat in the same direction.
The third type of damage is shrinkage or irregular shape. When hot water is used to clean a rug, the cotton foundation inside the carpet can potentially expand or shrink or both, just like a cotton shirt cleaned with hot water in the washing machine. The shrinkage won’t necessarily be consistent over the rug, what will happen is the edges of the carpet will not lay flat, and the rug will seem “wavy.”
When the rug is professionally cleaned at our facility, hot-water that causes irregular shape is not used. All water is room temperature to warm.
Damage to the Home
The fourth type of damage is not damage to the rug, but damage to the floors the carpet is cleaned on. Rug detergents and hot-water used by the technician can be over-sprayed onto the floors the rug is laying on. The equipment, water, and soap used can cause damage to hardwood floors.
Often at home, carpet cleaners only clean the surface of the rug.
Steam cleaning, or any other method used in the home, will only clean the surface of the rug. It will not clean the back or inside the carpet. That’s what steam cleaning is intended to do.
Steam cleaning is excellent for wall-to-wall carpet, where surface cleaning is essential to reduce drying times. When a rug is washed in a rug plant, it is continually squeegeed over and over. This method doesn’t just get the dirt OFF the carpet, but also OUT of the rug. That is how we can guarantee 100% odor removal on any rug from any odor.
We are usually able to get all discoloration and spots out of the rug while it’s being cleaned. But some things can actually change the color of the fiber, causing permanent discoloration.
We are very good at stain removal and have advanced stain removal techniques. The only problem with stain removal is that it is something that needs to be done with patience. It cannot be done in just a few minutes while steaming it in the home. If stain removal is done too aggressively, the original colors of the rug can be removed. So, when we are working on a pet urine stain, a coffee stain, or any other stubborn stain that does not come out during the cleaning, we can use a variety of stain removal methods that are safe for the rug.
Most of the time, this is done with a high-powered UV black light and peroxide. Performing stain removal in-plant provides sufficient time, space, and lighting for us to slowly and safely remove stubborn stains without removing original colors in the rug
Cannot Clean Fringes
There isn’t a method that can be done in-home that even comes close to cleaning the fringes of a carpet the same way fringes are cleaned in-plant. Fringes are mostly made of cotton, so a detergent specially made for cotton can be used.
On a wash floor in a rug cleaning facility, fringes are treated with cotton-safe detergent, and then high-pressure water is used to blast out dirt and remaining soaps. This method is done on both sides of the fringe.
Cannot Remove Odors
About 18% of the rugs that come to us have odors from pet urine, smoke, or mildew. Pet urine does not just sit on the surface of the carpet. It gets soaked into the foundation inside the rug. So, when we clean these rugs with odors, we always soak them in a sanitation “bath” for a couple of hours before actually washing them. The sanitation bath loosens odor-causing bacteria, so when the rug is cleaned, we can efficiently remove the bacteria. Because of this process, we can guarantee 100% odor removal.
Most carpet cleaners just aren’t educated enough to safely and adequately clean rugs, mainly hand-made and Oriental rugs. It is a highly technical and niche service that should be done by experienced rug washers.
Average carpet cleaners just aren’t aware which rugs will bleed or shrink. They don’t know when a rug pile should be groomed, and which direction to groom it, which is why companies like us exist. We specialize in cleaning delicate rugs, that can potentially “bleed” and shrink. We can identify rugs and prevent and fix these issues. And if these issues arise, we can fix them.
Blatchford’s video “Why you should never let a carpet cleaner clean your area rug in the home.”