Washing an Oriental Rug

Creating an Oriental rug is a long and intricate process with many steps. Different cultures have unique steps that they follow, making each rug authentic to the culture’s style.

Just like each culture has its own weaving designs, traditions, and color palettes, each culture also has its own rug washing traditions.

The Weaving Process

After a weaver has completely finished weaving the rug, a highly skilled weaver clips the rug’s pile. There are two individual clipping sessions that each rug goes through, and the first session is not as precise as the second clipping. The style of the rug, type of yarn used, and tradition of the culture determine the length of the pile and precision needed to complete the clipping job.

Once the pile has been clipped, the rug usually has quite a few strands of yarn that are caught in other yarn strands within the pile itself. A weaver brushes the rug to tease out some of the cut pile, but the most effective way to clean up a rug and prepare it for the market is to wash it.

Washing a Rug

There are many different ways to wash an Oriental rug, and many weaving groups have integrated a chemical bath to the bathing process to add a particular finish to the rug’s pile. Rugs typically receive a water bath that removes any dirt or particles that the rug may have accumulated throughout the weaving process, but some weavers also use a chemical bath to finish a rug.

The chemical bath that the rug receives depends on the style of the rug and the weaving culture. It is highly common for weavers to give a rug a chemical bath intending to change the rug’s color intensity. Color tones that are difficult to achieve in actual yarn colors are made possible by certain chemical combinations.

In other cases, rugs receive a chemical bath to change the overall texture of the rug – such as a high-gloss sheen or a matte affect – that ties the whole rug together.

Common Washing Techniques

One of the most popular chemical washing styles is a gold wash, which uses bleach to mute intense red tones. Weavers only use this process on sturdy rugs, as the chemicals significantly weaken the durability of the rug. However, when finished, the rug’s colors are among the most sought after red and rose tones.

Sun washing, another very popular style of washing, does not use harsh, man-made chemicals. When a rug undergoes sun washing, it sits outside under the sun until the colors naturally lose some of their vibrancy. This washing style resembles the aging process, and it can create a subtle classy effect on the rug.

Chemical washing and natural washing styles can create a very elegant finish on a rug’s surface. If you want to determine how a rug was washed, examining the base of the pile is the best place to start.

SAMAD is a leading producer and importer of fine handmade decorative rugs, catering exclusively to high-end retailers and designers. Emigrating from London, brothers and business partners, David and Malcolm Samad, established their business as wholesale rug importers in New York City in 1985. With a deep understanding and appreciation for our craft, our pioneering spirit inspires us to challenge convention and continue our pursuit of excellence.