Dye Bleed Prevention

These colors DO run

This article will talk about the unique colors of oriental rugs, how the colors are made, the dangers when cleaning and why there are so many cleaning companies that should not be cleaning them.

A Rugs Uniqueness 

One of the most beautiful parts of oriental rugs, are the colors. These colors somehow have the ability to transcend time. Despite the change in decor styles over the years, the colors of these rugs will always find a way to enhance the existing colors of a room. There is no other home furnishing that can do this. There is also no other home furnishing that requires this much care to prolong its life. While the colors don’t serve a purpose to the utility side, they do make it more enjoyable. This is one of the main reasons oriental rugs are so unique. 

Rug Color Creation 

When it comes to making the colors, higher quality rugs have vegetable dyes (and sometimes the colors are made from bugs, but for the sake of this article, your time, and the gross factor, we will stick to the plant side). Vegetable dyes come from a wide variety of plants. But, of the most common plants used are: Indigo (Blue), Madder (Red), and Larkspur (Yellow). Just like we learned in grade school, all colors are made from these three primary colors, which is why these plants are the most commonly used.  

The Dangers when Cleaning

If you have ever put a new red shirt in the wash with a lot of white clothes, then you get it. Buying a white towel and then finding it a mottled shade of pink 30 minutes later (you can blame your husband for this), is a hard lesson to learn. Especially if you do it more than once (then you can get REALLY mad at your husband). The difference here? A $5 towel or T-Shirt isn’t quite the same thing as a few thousand dollar oriental carpet. 

Despite the fact it can usually be fixed (see the photo to the right), it is labor intensive (expensive) and more importantly, preventable. 

Why you shouldn’t hire a Carpet Cleaner to clean these rugs

When you consider having your hand woven rugs cleaned, there are a few things you want to understand.

  1.  The construction of the rug- A hand woven rug is held together by itself. Tiny little knots of fabric are tied together over other other pieces of fabric. Which means that 100% of the rug is cleanable (not the case with the wall-to-wall carpet in your bedroom). This also means that the foundation is more dense than the face fiber, because of all the knots. These knots store dirt. More dirt than the face fiber.
  2. The stability of the dye-   There are a few things that cause natural dye to become loose or free. First is a common aspect used in the cleaning of wall-to-wall carpet cleaning, and that is heat. The heat will very encourages the dye to move. The other is the PH of the cleaning agents. Installed carpet can handle a myriad of different (and more aggressive) cleaners, while wool and natural dyes like a very certain few. PH is a huge contributor to dye stability. When you combine these 2 you are creating a recipe of disaster.
  3. Dry soil- You can read all about that here. And this is equally important to all the other considerations.
  4. Pressure and volume of water- High pressure will force soil down into the foundation. We have already established hoe dense the foundation of a hand made rug is, so the farther down you push the soil, the harder it is to get out. Water Volume is also important, and a carpet cleaning machine does not produce the volume of water needed to flush an area rug. Think about cleaning your body with a spray bottle versus an actual shower. It doesn’t matter how strong the spray bottle can spray, its never going to produce the amount of water needed to clean.  



How do you prevent an Oriental Rugs colors from running?

The best solution to any problem is prevention. It’s much easier to not set a forrest on fire, than it is to put it out. The same way with cleaning oriental rugs. It is a lot easier to prevent the colors from moving than it is to correct it… And now that you have made it this far, and only took 2 naps in the process, you will get the meat and potatoes..

**drum roll**

Chemistry. Knowing the right chemistry, more importantly. Outside of the stuff you’ve already read, it’s all about using a solution that encourages the colors to stay put, AND a secondary solution that tells the colors that have become loose to stick to the water and not the rug. That will allow the loose dye to leave the rug in the water and not stick to the fibers adjacent. THEN, the rug can be cleaned. With LOTS and LOTS of water. Its basically like a water park for your rug. Lots of water, lots of fun, and even a little sun. 

Have your rug cleaned properly

You bought your rug for a reason.

Maybe it ties the room together.

Maybe it has been in the family for a long time.

Either way, it’s your duty to keep it at its best.

The problem is, you can’t clean it yourself.