Some of the concerns related to area rug cleaning specifically are: backing systems including latex issues and skrim attachment issues, cleanability of primary fibers (sisal or plant fiber rugs) and structural integrity (i.e. braided rugs). Area rugs can suffer from many ills. From simple traffic and soiling issues, to food and beverage spills, to the wrong kind of attention from the family pet. For the purposes of our discussion we’re going to treat area rug cleaning as being distinct from traditional Oriental rug cleaning. We consider oriental rugs to be wool or silk and to be hand or machine woven. All other types and styles of rugs will be considered as area rugs. Some different examples of area rugs would be:
Olefin or Polypropylene rugs – these are perhaps the most common rugs found in homes. They are relatively inexpensive, come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs, and they can be quite beautiful.
Tufted wool rugs - This rug is easy to spot, because it has a latex backing covered by a fabric skrim. These rugs are very popular and can be found in every size and design imaginable. Tufted rugs can be a challenge to clean thoroughly. This is because it is rarely advisable to completely immerse them in the washing process. The latex used in the backing is subject to breaking down, especially in the presence of large volumes of water. We have the ability at Pro Care Cleaning to thoroughly clean and more importantly to completely and quickly dry challenging rugs like these.
Braided rugs – forming a circular or oval shape these rugs have surface fibers most commonly of wool or cotton. The fibers are twisted into a cord, then coiled and its edges are stitched together. These rugs can generally be cleaned using our standard area rug cleaning process, with the occasional exception of the full immersion rinsing, due to filler material issues. The things we look for when cleaning these rugs are; the integrity of the surface fibers, the structural integrity of the rug as a whole (stitching) and the colorfastness of the rug (not so much of the surface fibers but rather any filler material in the coils, especially colored cardboard).
Nylon rugs – nylon rugs can be machine-woven, like some oriental rugs, or they can be regular broadloom products with primary and secondary backings, just like your wall to wall carpet. They can have a plain look with just serged edges, or they can have some form of decorative fringe attached. Our Dining room rug on our Homepage is a woven nylon rug. We have been very happy with that rug’s performance. It has a price point higher than similar olefin rugs, but much lower than a wool rug.
Sisal/Sea Grass/Natural Fiber rugs – these are very popular designer rugs. They are most often found in Dining Rooms. These rugs are not very cleanable. Our options consist of cleaning with Dry Solvents and/or cleaning with some form of Dry Absorbent Media (i.e. Host). When these rugs get wet they are subject to shrinkage, puckering and changing color distinctly. I love these rugs from an aesthetic viewpoint, but I wouldn’t put them where someone might spill a drink on them. Usually, when they get stained, it’s a replacement issue, not a cleaning issue. There are synthetic sisal rugs, designed to look like the real thing, but made of nylon or wool blends. These rugs are very cleanable and I would recommend them for busy households where accidents do occasionally happen.
Do you have a rug type that we haven’t discussed here? Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns related to your rug’s maintenance. We’ll be happy to answer your questions to the best of our ability. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it for you!
(Here's a picture of Brandy sitting on the back of an olefin rug I'm about to dust. I'll frequently bring her down to my rug washing studio to assist me in my tasks. She has a foolproof nose for detecting those special "problem areas"! She's also great company!)