5 Things That Could Ruin Your Area Rug (And What to Do About Them)

Published: Jan 15, 2020
traditional rugs which can be damaged

Whether it’s a gorgeous new rug you bought yourself or a beautiful heirloom from a beloved family member, an area rug is an investment that must be treated with care. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way despite your best efforts. Pests, pets, and accidents could permanently damage your rug.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent this kind of wear and tear. These tips can help you protect your beloved area rug from five of the most common sources of damage.

1. Water Damage to your Area Rug

Water may seem like a harmless substance, but it can wreak a surprising amount of damage to your area rug. Extensive exposure to water can rot underlying fibers or allow mold and mildew to grow.

If you use water to clean your rug, make sure to let your rug thoroughly dry before setting it back on the ground. Allow it to drip and air dry until no moisture remains.

It’s also a good idea to avoid placing rugs near sinks, around washing machines, or under flowerpots. A rug that sits on a damp floor or beneath anything that will be regularly watered will absorb moisture over time, which will eventually result in mildew.

2. Insects and Larvae

Insects can damage your rug

Insects can do a number on rugs, especially moths and carpet beetles. In most cases, it’s the larvae that cause the most damage. Moths and beetles often lay their eggs on natural fibers like wool, silk, and even leather. The larvae that hatch will then eat the fibers, causing considerable damage.

Common signs of larvae — and impending damage — include fine white webbing and dry, sandy residue on your rug. If you see small patches of missing pile that go all the way down to the foundation, you can be sure that moths have been eating your rug. You should take action to remove insects from your home as soon as possible.

If there has been any damage to your area rug, you can take it to a rug repair professional. Mild to moderate damage, including missing pile and unraveling, can often be repaired by an experienced professional.

3. Sun Bleaching to your Rug

Sunlight is a precious and rare commodity in the Pacific Northwest. However, it can still cause damage to rugs in the summer months.

Rugs that are made with cheap, synthetic dyes can fade dramatically when exposed to direct sunlight. Even antique rugs that are made with natural dyes can soften, although the effect is generally quite minimal.

If you get hard, prolonged sunshine through the windows of a room with a prominent area rug, you may want to consider applying a UV reduction film to your windows. You could also use sheet curtains to reduce the impact of sunlight.

4. Pet Stains and Damage to your Area Rug

pet stains and damage to your area rug

Oh, pets. We all love them, but they tend to chew, tug, claw, and stain whatever furniture attracts their attention. Puppies are particularly likely to cause damage to your area rug.

If you have a teething puppy who seems focused on your area rug, try sprinkling moth flakes under the rug. Most dogs dislike the aroma and will avoid the rug. For clawing cats, you will need to find a way to curbing scratching activity. You may need to invest in catnip-scented scratching posts, clip your cat’s nails more often, or put special plastic caps on your cat’s claws.

Pet urine can also be a problem, especially if it is left untreated. Urine can permanently bleach the dye on your rug and change the color in spots. Make sure to house train your pets as soon as possible.

If your pet has an accident on your area rug, sprinkle the area with a club soda and white vinegar solution and blot until dry. Repeat until there is no remaining residue or odor.

5. Spills and Stains

Wine, coffee, and cooking oil, and other spills can all permanently change the color of your rug. However, damage from many spills can be mitigated with quick action.

If you spill something on your rug, act quickly to keep it from being absorbed into the fibers. Blot the spill with a dry towel until it is lifted. If it’s a dark liquid spill, sprinkle with club soda or blot with a small amount of warm water mixed with a capful of white vinegar. Do not rub the stain.

For oil-containing spills, sprinkle with flour and press a piece of brown paper bag against the stain for at least 15-20 minutes. The paper will generally absorb the oil. Make sure to sweep or vacuum the flour up afterward and blot.

For older or more extensive stains, you may need to take your rug to an experienced rug cleaning and repair professional. A professional can often tackle stains you can’t remove yourself with specialty cleaning equipment or by re-dying the area to match the color.

Protecting Your Rug

A rug care professional could help protect your rug from these threats and repair moderate damage. Even moth and color damage can often be repaired by someone with the right skills and experience.

At Alexander’s Rug Care, we use specialty area rug protectants to seal and protect your rug from damage. Our rug protection treatments are safe, hypoallergenic, and non-toxic. We will ensure your rug requires fewer cleanings and lasts longer, even in high traffic areas.


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