An Ounce of Prevention: Proper Storage of Oriental Rugs

Many people believe that Oriental rugs are valuable because they require constant, meticulous upkeep. However, they are quite durable. In fact, being out in the air and light and under regular traffic extends their lives by preventing moths, beetles, and mildew from destroying the fibers.

That durability is compromised when they are no longer in use. That means you should take special care when storing your Oriental rugs.


Know Your Rug’s Enemies
A natural-fiber rug such as an Oriental rug has four main enemies: sunlight, moths, carpet beetles, and water. Sunlight fades both naturally and synthetically died rugs, and water leads to mildew and rot, causing a hard-to-remove smell and even causing the rug to disintegrate.


Both moths and carpet beetles eat the natural fibers found in rugs – moth larva prefer the tufted pile, while carpet beetles are less picky and will eat straight though the rug. They both prefer dark, undisturbed areas such as under the never-moved furniture.


Normally circulating air and normal traffic protect your rug from damp and keep insects from homesteading in the woolen fibers. Putting them in storage deprives your rug from these protective measures and so requires special attention.


Protect Your Rug in Storage

First, choose an appropriate area to keep your rugs. It should be dark and controlled for temperature and humidity. Garages, basements, and attics are out. Carpet beetles and rodents prefer the floor, so you should plan on installing shelves for your rugs as well. Next, prepare your Oriental rug by having it professionally cleaned. Dirt attracts insects. Avoid moth balls, as they are ineffective with Oriental rugs, and the smell can linger for years.


Finally, roll your rug. Purchase a rug roll that is wider than the rug you wish to store. Carefully roll your rug so the pile faces in (unless your foundation is weak, then roll foundation-in) and so that the warps are perpendicular and there are no creases or folds. Once it is wrapped, cover the roll with muslin to keep dust and insects out (not newspaper or butcher paper, as acids in most paper will damage your rug). Tie the roll securely and tuck the ends of the muslin inside the roll. Alternatively, you can cover the rug roll with clear polyethylene sheeting, which protects the rug from water.


Ideally, you should unroll your rugs periodically, to check for insects, water damage, or creases that might have occurred.


While it seems like a lot of work, properly storing your Oriental rugs will prevent nasty surprises and extend the life and beauty of your valuable Oriental rugs.


If the worst should happen and you do get a nasty surprise, call Toronto's carpet specialists for over 115 years – Babayan's. We cannot only clean your Oriental rug, but we can reweave damaged areas so they look new again. Call or email us today with any questions and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will be sure to help you.

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