How To Care For Heirloom Rugs


Some families have heirloom jewels or clothing passed down from generation to generation. Yet it’s not unusual to receive a rug from a relative. Heirloom rugs are often one-of-a-kind and handwoven, unlike contemporary ones that are mass-produced and copied. They also differ from antique rugs, which are 100 years old or older and usually appear more worn out. However, that doesn’t mean they’re easier to care for than the other. 

Caring for an heirloom rug can be daunting for anyone unfamiliar with the fabric and techniques used to make one. If you’ve recently received an heirloom rug and have no clue how to keep it intact, read on to learn some valuable tips. 

  1. Let The Pros Wash It

You can clean most regular floor mats and carpets by yourself with a vacuum or mild dish soap. But heirloom rugs often need professional care to stay clean without ruining their original condition. Rug experts carefully inspect older rugs for flaws or impending damage before they begin cleaning them.  

The professional rug cleaning process may take more than 12 hours to complete. So, if you don’t have the time or tools to clean your heirloom rug properly, it’s best to leave the washing to the experts, like this team from  

The reason why it takes a long time to clean rugs is because of the steps involved. After inspection, cleaners usually wash rugs in this order:

  • Dusting and dry soil removal

  • Rug bath

  • Removal of leftover contaminants

  • Drying

  • Stain protection

Professional care doesn’t stop there. The team will also carefully roll and wrap your heirloom rug and deliver it straight to you. So, you don’t need to drive by to pick up the rug if you can’t.

  1. Rotate Regularly

An easy way to lengthen your heirloom rug’s lifespan is to rotate it every so often. It may not look like it’ll do much good, but rotation helps keep it in excellent condition. Foot traffic is one of the leading causes of rug wear and tear. If people regularly walk over a specific area of your rug, turn it around, so the fabric doesn’t become uneven on one side.  

Owners of heirloom rugs often rotate theirs yearly. Some may even do it every six months if foot traffic inside is high. So, turn yours accordingly depending on how many people are in your home and where you put your rug. Additionally, place it on an even surface since uneven floors can quickly wear out the raised parts.

  1. Keep Away From Direct Sunlight

The sun is a common enemy among most things on the planet. Whether it’s an artificial object or your own skin, prolonged exposure to sunlight is a surefire way to age it faster. The UV rays, in particular, fade colors, especially on rugs. 

If your heirloom rug contains various colored threads, you must keep it far from daily sun exposure. Even if it’s possibly made with fade-resistant dyes, you can’t stay complacent. Position your rug somewhere on the floor where the sun doesn’t hit. You can also cover your windows with thick drapes or curtains to shield the rug from sunlight if you’re out the whole day.

Heirloom Rugs close up

  1. Store When Necessary

Your heirloom rug doesn’t have to lay flat on the floor 24/7. You can store it if you want, but storage is another thing that needs planning. It’s not as simple as folding a large piece of cloth and stuffing it in a cabinet. 

To properly store your rug, follow these steps:

  • Make sure it’s clean and free of loose debris.

  • Mothproof it with natural moth-repelling herbs or rug-safe powders and sprays.

  • Roll your rug starting from the bottom end to the top with the fuzzy side inside.

  • Wrap it with acid-free brown paper, not plastic.

  • Store it on one of the upper shelves.

  • Avoid placing heavy items right on top of the rug.

As an additional precaution to protect your heirloom rug, consider getting insurance for it. You’ll need to take a photo of it in full and appraise its value before you leave it in storage.

  1. Avoid Putting Potted Plants On It

Plant lovers may need to keep their precious indoor greenery away from their heirloom rug. Water can still seep out, and mud can stain the fibers. When you leave moisture and dirt on it, they could attract mildew and cause dry rot. These issues will damage your rug and make its intricate weaves fall apart.

  1. Refrain From Using DIY Cleaners

Sometimes, you can’t immediately send your heirloom rug to professional cleaners when you spot a stain on it. While your knee-jerk reaction may be to clean it yourself, it’s best to avoid doing such. DIY cleaning materials may do more harm than good. 

Carpet spot removers and baking soda work great on synthetic fabrics but aren’t ideal for wool and silk rugs. The strong chemicals might discolor or bleach the thread’s dyes. Once this happens, the rug’s value may drop. 

If you have no choice, consider using eco-friendly spring cleaning methods. Non-toxic and mild cleaning solutions may temporarily wash away the stains. But in any case, it’s still best to call the pros for help when you have doubts.


Getting an heirloom rug is a huge responsibility. It may be on the floor most of the time, but like any object in your home, it also needs care. An heirloom rug requires special attention to ensure it stays in good condition no matter how old it gets.

Recommended Posts: