Top 10 Tips About Antique Rugs
1. Antique rugs were designed to last for centuries.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about antique rugs is that they’re fragile or difficult to care for. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many of the rugs we sell and collect are over a century old, and they were woven to last forever. They come from villages and districts, travel across continents and oceans, and have hosted generations of families and celebrations. And yet, their vivid colors, tight weaves, and beautiful art still enchant us today, unlike mass-produced synthetic rugs. Their histories and the stories they come with are a testament to the durability of their materials and the skill of their makers. With basic care, you can be sure your rug will be a family treasure for generations to come.
2. Only buy from a reputable dealer.
Of course, we’re talking about authentic, vegetable-dyed, hand-woven wool and silk rugs. Synthetic yarns and artificial dyes are not nearly as durable as the real thing, and unfortunately, there are lots of less than authentic “antique” rugs floating around out there. Shopping for the right plug or dealer is a better approach to securing an authentic antique to adopt and make part of the family. A reputable dealer should have experience, knowledge, and a reputation for quality. That’s why we pride ourselves on being responsive and transparent about the materials, history, and price of every piece we sell. And we’re always available for help, repairs, and questions that come up long after your purchase.
3. Treat stains quickly.
Spills happen, but don’t worry! The most common stains are easily treated with warm water and a towel. Dab the stain with a damp towel until it’s no longer visible, and then make sure to let the yarns dry naturally and completely before resuming foot traffic. Add a dash of laundry detergent or soap and scrub gently if needed.
4. Antique rugs are individuals — and organic!
Old rugs are never exactly 3x5, 2x4, 8x10, or 9x12. In fact, precision is a sign of machines and synthetic materials being involved. These rugs are purely woven by hand on a loom, a century ago, by skilled artisans and many rugs from memory. A hand woven rug will be some feet and inches with slight variation, but not a perfect square or rectangle. We try to measure from the longest point of length and width. One side may be 8’3” in length and the other may be 8’6”. The same goes for widths. These are natural characteristics of handmade rugs.
Another key characteristic is natural dyes. Vegetal or vegetable dyed wool means something: your rug is all organic. Dyes used in these rugs come from all natural sources like vegetables, plants, roots, and flowers among others. Nothing is synthetic. Feel free to let babies crawl and dogs play without worry — these rugs are pose no harm to even the gentlest creatures. They are old world rugs, mainly woven by women, from their own families’ sheep, with the wool dyed by the men. A family affair, rugs were used by their makers, traded for other goods, and passed down through the generations from villages in Persia, Turkey, or from high up in the Caucasus Mountains to our cities and homes today.
5. Avoid water.
One of the most common causes of rug damage that requires professional repair is water damage. This can happen due to prolonged wetness or to plant pots causing “dry rot”, and the repairs in these cases can be costly. To avoid both, wipe up any big spills quickly, and do not keep potted plants on your rug. Plant pots can collect moisture and harbor damp or mold that can eat away at wool and silk yarns over time. We encourage adding charm to the bathroom with an antique rug as long as you don’t use the rug as a shower mat. It can take some splashes of course but put a shower mat on top of the rug when showering if you put the rug by the tub or shower. Although they’re happy in a bathroom or kitchen or other places near water, authentic antique rugs should not be placed in areas where water exposure is likely and frequent.
6. Use it or lose it.
As with all natural wool and silk fibers, the best way to prolong the life of your rug is to let it breathe. In other words, use it! Keeping a rug rolled tight in a dark closet invites mold and moths. Protect your antique rug from both: keep it on your floor.
7. Keep it clean.
Vacuum or sweep your antique rug regularly to prevent dust, hair, and dirt buildup. Avoid vacuums or brooms with very rough bristles. Basic cleaning is essential to an antique rug’s structure because without it dirt collects between the fibers and actually pushes the yarns away from one another making the weave weaker and more prone to breaking over time.
8. Keep it even.
The sun ages everything, from our furniture to our faces. The natural vegetables dyes used in the antique rugs we sell are extremely long-lasting and age beautifully over time with even sun exposure. If you keep your rug in a space that receives uneven sun exposure, like in a room with windows on only one side, rotate it every year or so. This will keep the color even over time and protect it from showing foot traffic patterns, or let it wear with character!
9. Go pro every 3-5 years.
We professionally clean each rug before sale, and we provide professional cleaning and restoration services to you whether you bought your antique rug from us or not. Professional cleaning is a careful, skilled process that protects the natural oils present in wool and silk yarns. To maintain the natural luster and vivid color of your antique rug and extend its life, we recommend professionally cleaning your rug once every three to five years, or as you see fit based on traffic and history.
10. With repairs, the sooner the better.
If your rug becomes damaged, don’t put off repair or restoration. With continued exposure to foot traffic, a worn or frayed area can spread through the rug. The larger the area of damage, obviously, the more costly and time consuming the repair. If your rug needs restoration or repairs, make sure to call us or another professional, experienced antique rug specialist right away. Like our grandmothers said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.