The Art of Caring for Turkish Rugs: 5 Essential Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

The Art of Caring for Turkish Rugs: 5 Essential Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

Turkish Rug Care

It’s an art to care for art. And yes, handmade, authentic Turkish rugs are considered works of art so they’re no different. It’s not difficult, but it does take some extra time and patience to keep these babies in good condition! 

If you’re investing in a real Turkish carpet, you already know that though. They’re durable, hearty and when taken care of properly, will last you a lifetime. If you want them passed down from generation to generation or maybe even to be able to sell it for more in the future, keep reading! 

We’re going to dive into our top 5 tips and tricks for taking care of your brand new (but old) Turkish rug. 

#1: Vacuuming

Mistake to Avoid: Using high-powered vacuums or vacuuming with beater bars

Vacuuming is important - but also controversial. A few months ago, we stumbled upon a Tiktok video of someone giving advice to the masses that vacuuming down the fringe to flatten it out was a good hack. We almost had a heart attack. 

Using a normal, high-powered vacuum is not something we would recommend. Especially if you want to preserve the rugs’ initial weaving. It loosens the fibers and destabilizes the knots, which is the whole point of buying a handmade rug (for its durability). Specifically for high pile rugs, kilims, and more delicately embroidered pieces, vacuuming will pull the carpet fibers too aggressively. You wouldn’t clean a vintage, hand blown glass sculpture with steel wool would you? 

If you’re going to vacuum (which we recommend sparingly), opt for a soft brush attachment and vacuum in a single direction only Avoid going back and forth as this loosens the fibers further. A soft brush attachment will gently lift the dirt without pulling on the fibers and can be used to reach into crevices. 

Our favorite way to get rid of dust and debris in our Turkish rugs is to bring them outside and shake vigorously about 1x/month. Depending on how big your rug is, you may need someone to help you, but shaking or “beating” out your rug will get off a significant amount of anything on it - dust/dirt/etc. If your rug is in a high traffic area, then a little more of a deep cleaning might be necessary, especially if your rug is high pile. 

#2: Rotating Your Rugs

Mistake to Avoid: Leaving furniture or heavy objects on the rug for extended periods without rotating it 

Authentic Turkish rugs use vegetable dyes to dye the wool different colors. And because of this, the wool can (and probably will) change colors, even after decades. This is part of what makes Turkish rugs so unique. 

If you have a rug in your home, chances are there are corners or sides that get more traffic than others, or see the sun more than others. Over time, these sides or corners will become more worn down and discolored vs. the sides that don’t see traffic and the sun. 

We personally love this look but if you don’t, rotating your rug ensures that over time, the ‘wear and tear’ is equal and the rug continues to be as symmetrical as possible. 

Our favorite way to remember? Each season, rotate your rug to the right 90 degrees and you’ll never forget the direction. This rotation will also just prevent certain areas from becoming overly worn.✌🏼

#3: Stains + Cleaning 

Mistake to Avoid: Leaving your stain sitting for too long and rubbing vs. blotting

This is a big one - most people are afraid to buy Turkish rugs because they have dogs, little kids, etc. We’ve heard it all. But these rugs are durable and chemical dyes and plastic (what machine-made rugs are made of) actually hold onto spills and stains more intensely than vegetable dyes and wool. Like a sponge, they suck up everything. 

Story time: At our first show, there was a child eating blackberries who ended up smearing them all over one of our rugs (panic!) - leaving us  with a massive black and purple stain. 🙃

Queue us running to the store to buy white wine. We then carefully blotted the stain for the next 15-20 minutes, rinsed a few times with water, and repeated. After about 45 minutes, the stain had lifted from the fibers and was completely gone. After laying it out flat overnight to dry, Lale was as good as new…old. 😉 Because these pieces are made from natural fibers, they are able to be cleaned in more natural ways - another reason why we love handmade and hand-dyed pieces. 

Did we freak out? Yes. But in the end, the rug was fine. And so were we. See below for proof - the blackberry was smeared in the white part of the inner border. 

Rug Pictured: Lale

SO - these things are durable as heck. If they can withstand smeared fruit stains, they can withstand a whole lot more. 

One of the most important things we’ve learned about taking care and cleaning Turkish rugs is speed. Speed to stain. The faster you clean it, the faster and easier it will come out.

We have an entire section in our FAQ which talks about different stains and how to clean each one. We worked with our partners to better understand how they’ve been cleaning rugs for decades. Give it a read and store it away for your next pre-panic moment sponsored by High Pile Designs. 

Rugs get dirty, just like anything, and that will happen to your Turkish rug as well. But that shouldn’t keep you from purchasing and instead buying a rug made of microplastics and non-biodegradable materials. It’s possible to own a piece of art in a house full of kids and animals, in high traffic areas, etc. It’s just about knowing how and when to clean them yourself. 🤝

#4: Professional Cleaning

Mistake to Avoid: Never getting your rug professionally cleaned

Don’t sleep on professional cleanings! We are obsessed with rug cleaning videos…they take up half our discovery pages on social media. At least once a week we doom scroll rug cleaning videos. It’s a wonderful relaxing ASMR moment.

Part of the reason Turkish rugs are such a great investment is because they’re durable and hold their own so well. But, professional cleaning at some point might be necessary if you want them to continue to look incredible and like new for decades. Just like with anything else you’d want help taking care of, you take it to an expert. We recommend once every few years for a deep, thorough clean!

#5: Store Properly When Not in Use

Mistake to Avoid: Folding your rug and not properly cleaning it before storing 

There are definitely “best practice” ways to store your rug to help keep its shape. . The best way to store your rug when it’s not in use is to roll it up into a cylindrical shape and place in a cool, dry, dark area (closets, temp controlled storage rooms, etc). 

Folding your rugs can sometimes cause hard to beat creases, especially if it’s sitting unused for months or years at a time. Harsh creases that go against the direction of the fibers can alter the integrity of the wool or cotton over extended periods of time. Small fixes can be treated with ice cubes or weights but when it doubt…roll it out (or up in this case).  

If you are going to store your rug, make sure to clean it well before so the dirt and debris doesn’t sit on the wool. You wouldn’t put away dirty clothes for the season would you? 

Keep Your Rug Looking Like New For Years To Come

Hopefully you’ve learned a few quick tips and tricks to keeping your rug looking good for years (or decades!) to come. Or maybe we’ve helped convince you to finally take the plunge into the world of handmade rugs! 

Owning an authentic, vintage rug isn’t hard but it definitely requires different habits. However, that’s the beauty of these pieces of art. 

Love & Rugs, 

High Pile Designs

Back to blog

Leave a comment