11 Tips for Maintaining Persian Rugs

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated October 25, 2021
Persian rug in living room apartment
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Keep your rug's weave and pattern looking as good as new for years to come

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Do you remember the magic of the first time you unrolled your new Persian rug? 

After dedicatedly saving for the big purchase and finding just the right one, it’s finally in your home, so you’ll want to keep it in great condition despite all life might throw at it.

Hand-woven Persian rugs, originating from Iran, are intricate pieces of art as well as functional, durable floor coverings. Often made from wool, they have detailed patterns created from complex knotting and traditional dyeing processes. 

Whether yours is a treasured family heirloom or a new investment, with careful care, your Persian rug can last for many years. Learn how to properly maintain your Persian rug with these tips, ensuring the rich colors and interesting designs hold up against household wear and tear.

1. Vacuum Regularly to Extend Your Persian Rug’s Life

woman cleaning persian rug in apartment
LumiNola via Getty Images

Without regular and thorough vacuuming, the fibers on your Persian rug can become packed down by traffic. Ground-in dirt and debris can also damage the rug fibers.

Start by flipping your rug, and run your vacuum over its backing a couple of times. Having the beater bar down (but set high) at this point helps loosen any ingrained dirt by agitating the surface.

It’s all about the suction when it comes to lifting the dirt out of a Persian rug, so make sure your beater bar is up or on the highest setting when you vacuum the front side. A low-set beater bar can dig into the pile and cause damage. Always vacuum slowly in the direction of the fibers, and repeat the entire process twice. It’s best to use the upholstery attachment to vacuum the edges to save you from sucking up any fringes.

If you have worries about your vacuum being overly powerful or your beater bar being set too low, try the traditional method of shaking, gently beating, and then sweeping the rug. Use a dedicated soft brush with straw bristles, always moving in the direction of the fibers. This option is particularly useful if you have a delicate hand-hooked or braided rug and not a flat weave variety.

2. Air It Out to Help Prevent Moisture Buildup

Prolonged dampness in your Persian rug can lead to mold and mildew growth and rot, and wool rugs can shrink. To prevent excessive moisture buildup, hang your Persian rug outside on a dry, sunny day at least twice a year or if you detect dampness. A few hours of fresh air can be enough to lessen moisture and reduce any lingering odors.

3. Rotate to Distribute Wear and Fading

Rotating your rug helps to distribute natural wear evenly and prevent isolated patches of color-fading from sunshine and exposure. Ideally, you’ll want to rotate your rug every few months, especially if its location is in a high-traffic area.

4. Avoid Excessive Sunlight to Prevent Fading

A little uniform fading over time is difficult to avoid altogether, but on the bright side, can give your rug a one-of-a-kind, antique-aged appearance. However, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause excessive fading and fibers can become weak and brittle.

If your Persian rug is in a room that receives a lot of direct sunlight, using sheers, curtains, or UV filtering window tints can help. Close curtains when the room is not in use, or move your rug to prevent direct sunlight from hitting it.

5. Flip the Rug to Untangle Fringes

Persian rug fringes can become easily tangled. Don’t comb them out, as this can damage the natural fibers. A better technique is to flip the rug end-over-end to allow the fringe to straighten out naturally. You can do this by grabbing one end of the carpet and walking it over the other end. In addition to this process, you can also shake the rug gently to help straighten out the fringe.

6. Clean Spills Immediately to Minimize Damage

It’s possible to prevent stains on your rug by tackling any spills immediately, but it can be tricky or impossible to reverse any damage if you leave them.

If you catch a stain immediately, use white paper towels or cloths to blot up excess liquid. Steer clear of colored towels as these could transfer dye into the damp rug fibers. If you need to scoop up excess substances like food, use a rounded spoon rather than a knife. Never scrub or brush the spillage as this can push the stain further into the rug and cause damage to the fibers—always blot.

Don’t use strong carpet or steam cleaners, as these can also damage the rug’s fibers. Warm water and vinegar (or a vinegar and baking soda mixture for tough stains) are a better natural alternative. If your rug is still damp after blotting up excess moisture, air it outside or use a fan to help speed up the drying process.

7. Use Under-Rug Padding for Multiple Benefits

Placing padding underneath your Persian rug can protect its shape, prevent a buildup of debris on the underside, and reduce wrinkling. Plus, it stops the rug from sliding around on top of a hardwood floor.

8. Be Mindful of Furniture Placement

Ideally, you don’t want to place any heavy furniture on top of your rug. Rearranging furniture every few months can prevent long-term wear and imprints from forming in one area. Placing casters under pointed furniture feet is also helpful for protecting the rug’s fibers.

9. Supervise Pets Around the Rug

puppy on persian rug
Grace Cary/ Moment via Getty Images

New puppies inevitably have accidents around the home and a bored dog will make its own entertainment. Pet accidents can irreparably damage the rug's fibers if not dealt with immediately and thoroughly.

While potty training a puppy, you might want to store your rug away to prevent any mishaps. Adequate exercise, playtime, and supervision can avert a chewy dog from focusing on the corner of your prized Persian rug.

10. If You Have to Store Your Rug, Do So Carefully

couple rolling up rug in apartment
Andrija Nikolic via Getty Images

If you need to store your Persian rug, make sure you roll it tightly, starting from the side opposite of the pile's direction. Tie it with string or rope that’s strong enough to prevent it from unrolling and use airtight polythene to wrap it and store it in a dry place. Throw in a few mothballs for good measure.

11. Call the Pros for Occasional Deep Cleans

Deep cleaning your rug every few years can help prolong its lifespan and freshen up its appearance. Although it’s possible to clean a Persian rug yourself, deep cleaning is often best tackled by a local professional rug cleaner. They know what is best for the materials and how to best tackle any stains. Plus, an experienced pro can thoroughly dry out your rug before returning it to its home.

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