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Truths About Area Rug Cleaning

Everything you never wanted to know about AREA RUGS…
Most people are in the dark about the world of area rugs. Rugs are like fine art. You can get cool looking cheap print or reproduction for your walls at a store, or you can get an original masterpiece from a gallery – there are a million things in between and there is a lot of confusion in the market as to what is good art, right? Well, the same goes for rugs.
What is considered a “good” rug? How much should you spend on a rug? How do you care for different types of rugs? We will go into the different manufacturing processes that make a rug good or not in later blogs. Here, I will address what I would classify as the good, the bad and the ugly – truth that is about the “in betweens”

The Low End

Most of us agree that things from big box retailers or department stores are pretty to look at but they don’t last, so the idea is to use them for a while and replace them. The artwork will fill a space on your wall, but is not high quality, same with the rugs and your floor.

What is a low end rug?

They are hand tufted/machine made, often glued together and are usually synthetic materials or a low quality wool.  They are recognizable by a plastic or woven backing. You get them at Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, Ikea, Cost Plus… all low end rugs.

How much do they cost?

These range from $300-$3,000 for an 8×10 rug.

How do you care for them?

All rugs should get a proper hand washing, but this is an intense process which most people cannot justify doing (paying for) for these rugs.
You can do a surface cleaning on them a few times for about $2 a square foot – so you can clean an 8×10 for around $160.
Any company that tells you they can guarantee a thoroughly clean rug for this price is possibly skipping a step or two and you should find out what their process is before proceeding.

Keep in mind that this cleaning will only get what you can lightly tamp or suction out of the rug. It will make it look clean but it won’t get to the trapped dirt at the bottom of the pile, so you can really only do it a few times before the rug will need to be replaced. That ground in dirt will get caked in, and over time no cleaning process will work on it.
Using up and replacing is not great for the earth, but we are a disposable society. The cost of properly cleaning a rug of this caliber will equal the cost of the rug itself… and in my experience most people don’t want to spend the money to clean them. So, my question is, knowing that you won’t properly clean it – are you prepared to replace it? What if your dog pees on it, or a child throws up on it? Ewww.  My vote is still clean them and use them again rather than send them to the landfill. Better for the environment and the same for your wallet.  And you really should clean your rugs yearly.

The High End

A painting from a high end gallery is valuable, you will care for it for your lifetime and it will last well beyond that. A rug from a high end gallery is a no brainier when it comes time to cleaning too. A properly cared for top quality rug will last centuries. Christie’s in London is auctioning off rugs now from the late 1800’s.

What is a high end rug?

These are made with wool or silk, woven by hand and have no backing. You get these at a reputable gallery – do your research before you purchase.

How much do they cost?

You can get an antique 8 x 10 as low as $8-10K – these are also the types you can score at an estate sale for a huge bargain because the broker has no idea of the value, but a new rug of this caliber can run you in the triple digits. Most of the high end rugs linger in the $20-30K range.

How do you care for them?

These rugs should be hand washed with the five step process we explain here, which will run between $4.50-$5 per square foot, or $360-$400 for an 8×10.
Do this once a year and the rug will not age. If only we had such a fountain of youth.
So the crème de la crème if you can afford it, is absolutely going to last you forever. If you decide you don’t like it anymore, or want to change styles in your home, they maintain their value, so you can sell it later and get a different one. Like artwork, this can be considered an investment if you are smart about it and take care of it.

The In Between

And then there are all of those rugs in between. These, just like their art counterparts, have a wide range of styles, materials and prices. You can get these rugs at a local rug gallery – know what you are looking for, ask a lot of questions and buy smart. (San Francisco Rug Gallery, Krisma Fine Rugs, PAK Oriental Rugs)

What is mid-range rug? 

These are usually wool and woven by machine and mass produced, or made by hand but with cheap labor and lower quality materials than their high end counterparts. They can be difficult to determine value because these machine made rugs can look beautiful but lack the artisan quality of the high end rugs. Here we get into the grey areas of knock off rugs, and unknown artisans, and a good salesman can lead you down the wrong path. Look out for any rug with a fabric or rubber backing – this means it is glued together. Other telltale signs are fringes that are sewn onto the rug, if the rug looks completely different from front to back, or it is made of
Check out this article by Rug and Relic if you want to identify a piece.
Nine indicators of rug quality

How much do they cost?

Wide range here- anywhere between $3,000 and $20,000. Here, if you buy smart, the “you get what you pay for” rule applies. A low end rug will last you 2-5 years. A high end will last hundreds… these rugs will last longer the more you pay for them.

How do you care for them?

These also should be hand washed with the five step process we explained above which will run between $4.50-$5 per square foot, or $360-$400 for an 8×10.
Do this once a year and the rug will last you for many, many years.

What is the right rug for me?

Your rug should cost about as much as your sofa if you want to be consistent about it… so go on… have fun and buy a new rug, then next year, call us to clean it.

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