Hand-Knotted Area Rugs – How To Care for Them

They take a lickin’, but keep on tickin’, as the saying goes. Hand-knotted (handmade) wool area rugs – created by skilled weavers who individually tie every knot — are known for their durability. In fact, in the Middle East, where they’re sold at open-air markets, camels are known to trample over them. If these carpets can survive that, they can surely endure your traffic. (FYI: High traffic areas are hallways, family room and entryways. Medium traffic areas include the dining room and home office. Low traffic areas would be bedrooms and formal living rooms.)

You do need to take good care, though, especially between professional cleanings.

Keep it out of the sun

Yes, it’s the same advice your mother gave you when you were little and going to beach. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as sunscreen for carpeting. Streaming sunlight may brighten a room, but it will fade your rug and also dry it out. Keep curtains and blinds closed when you can.

Don’t invite “dinner guests”

Keeping moths and carpet beetles from eating away at your area rugs requires that you vacuum weekly, and on the back of the rug as well at least several times a year. Make sure to check the dark areas under heavy furniture for any moth activity. Hire a professional rug cleaner on an annual basis. 

Store it smart

Professionally clean your rug before you put it away. Wrap your rug in a cotton sheet or any other natural material that will allow it to “breathe” before wrapping it in a heavy plastic. Although plastic covering can protect against water or dampness, it needs to have holes at each end for ventilation. Closets are among the worst places to warehouse your wool rug because they provide a dark and stagnant environment where moths thrive. Store your wool rugs in cross ventilated rooms and avoid dark areas.

Water is not a friend

Let’s keep potted plants off the rug, for example, because if the pot gets a crack or your aim when watering is off, it becomes an H2Oh-no situation with mildew and dry rot ruining your carpet. Also, colors can bleed. If a leak from a burst pipe takes place, and the rug gets soaked, have it professionally cleaned immediately, because problems arise when the rug is left wet for too long.

Do a 180

Rotating your area rugs 180 degrees every six months can keep it from being walked on in the same place and prevent furniture indentations.

What’s underneath counts

Quality padding can make rugs last longer, as well as prevent accidents because pads keep the rug in place. They act as cushions to keep the rug from rubbing against the flooring, also. In addition, padding provides comfort underfoot. Pads, however, do not last as long as the rugs, so they must be changed after a while.


Vacuuming daily is a great way to keep particles from settling into the pile, especially in high traffic areas. Careful if there is fringe around the edges.


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