Salt Water is your enemy. Fresh Water is your friend.

In the back of most area and oriental rugs, the warp and weft yarns are either cotton or hemp. Neither one likes salt water. Both are cellulose, and cellulose and salt water are not a happy combination.

Yes, the rug should be professionally cleaned, but the first step is rinsing the rug with fresh water, and thoroughly drying it.

You need lots of air. Cold dry air does a good job of drying the rug.

The pile of most rugs is either wool, or a synthetic fiber. Turn the rug pile side down and let the water drip or wick down. The back of the rug is the critical part.


If your rug has a cloth backing, it means that you have a latex backed rug. Latex is rubber and water will not penetrate. Rinse the cloth, and then rinse the pile. Again, use plenty of air to dry.

Your summer fan is a good way to move air over and around the rug. Damp rugs will mildew.

Special Note: ­There are many types of artificial silk, often called Art. Silk (note the period after Art.) Art. Silk and most other affordable rugs called “& silk” or “yyy silk” are viscose based.

Real Silk, like wool, is a protein based fiber. Water won’t hurt them, and both often come on cotton warp and weft foundation.

Key Question on area and Oriental rug cleaning

The key question on professionally cleaning a rug is “Will the cleaning method be a floor cleaning, or a water bath cleaning.” You probably have seen the cleaning machines in industrial applications where the brush goes round and round. That works on the pile, although there is always a question of soap residue being left. A professional operation will be able to rinse and dry your rug.

The problem with Salt Water is that it attacks cotton and jute, so a floor wash doesn’t flush out the residual salt in the foundation of the rug, unless there is a significant rinsing process.

Three professional sources for cleaning your area and Oriental rugs damaged by the storm “Sandy”:

Restoration by Costikyan:, “Sandy” hotline call or text 908-403-1176. Works with major insurance companies, with full restoration services.

Revita Rugs:, 201-336-9716. ­Good online video on how they clean “valuable” oriental rugs with pure water.

Long Island Carpet Cleaners:, 866-794-3589­. Long established (1917) retail full service cleaner operating in the NY, NJ, CT area, based in Long Island.

For more information about Area rugs and Oriental rugs, visit Rug News andDesign online at, and click on “All about Rugs”