Silk Rugs

Silk rugs are made all over the world. Your silk rug may be from Qum (or Qom, in Central Iran), Turkey (also known as Kayseri or Kilims, depending on the region of Turkey), Persia, and Kashmir, among other places. Silk rug and carpet cleaning requires a bit of care, but can be done at home. Maybe a fiber blend rug is your thing; wool and silk rugs as well as cotton and silk rugs are viable options for you. Oriental silk rugs are an investment, and may be one you decide on.

Silk doesn’t seem to be the strongest material you can think of for flooring, but you’ll be surprised to know that it definitely has its advantages.

The silk fibers that were obtained from the the cocoon of the “silkworm” (more accurately the Bombyx Mori) originated in about 2600 BC in China. Others say that the place of origin was India.
A silk rug from the Sassnid Dynasty, called “Spring of Khosrows” was the oldest found silk rug before the finding of the Pazyryk carpet. This silk rug was often used in the winter months by Khosrow I, the King of Persia (531-579 AD), in order to remind him of a springtime garden.
Silk is a highly regarded fabric in India, and is incorporated into spiritual rituals. Silk Kashmir rugs making has been taught by families in Kashmir India for many generations.
The silk itself is made of fibrous protein composed of a number of amino acids which have been shown to be five times stronger than steel and twice as strong as Kevlar (of the same weight). Silk is also highly resilient when stretched. It can be stretched out thirty percent longer without breaking.
And there are more advantages:

  • light and smooth texture
  • can be combined with other materials
  • great for decorating

You might want to note that silk rugs:

  • should not be used in high traffic areas
  • are easily stained
  • expensive
Silk rugs
Silk rugs are highly regarded as luxury items in decorating a home. The soft and light texture is ideal for intricate patterns and designs. In fact, many Oriental rugs are made with silk, sometimes in a combination of wool and silk. And while a lot of homeowners like to use silk area rugs around the house, they can also use them as wall hangings as well, to display the art for the design.



Take caution though when buying silk products because sometimes other fibers are passed off as silk. A few tests to help you evaluate the silk of your carpet are:
1. rub it and feel if the fabric gets warm or stays cool; silk gets warm
2. burn a small clipping; if it melts or smells like burning paper its not silk because burnt silk smells like burnt hair
3. dissolve it with a special chemical formula; a test that’s best left to professionals.
Because of the delicate nature of the silk, you may find that removing stains from silk rugs is difficult. But if you attack the stain as soon as it occurs, you may be able to reduce the damage. Having a blend of wool and silk rugs will help because wool repels most liquids.
Remove any solid that may have been a part of the stain, and then gently blot any excess liquid. If you choose, some club soda can help to release any remaining stain, but do not use heat to dry it. Let the area air dry.
Because the silk rugs are delicate and expensive, it is not recommended that these be used in higher traffic areas. Especially in the case of hand made silk carpets, the weave is thick, but you do not want to chance loosening any of the embroidery or patterns.
A silk carpet is a beautiful addition and investment in your home’s value. And while you may decide that silk rugs belong on the wall instead of the floor, you know that you’re buying something that will be passed down through your family.


43 thoughts on “Silk Rugs

  1. It’s going to largely depend on the type of dirt you are trying to remove and how large the area is.
    Remove any solid that may have been a part of the stain, and then gently blot any excess liquid. If you choose, some club soda can help to release any remaining stain, but do not use heat to dry it. Let the area air dry.
    I did find a website that carries cleaning for silk rugs at http://www.rugman.com/Search/SearchCleaner.html?Category=Cleaning_Solution. It does state that it is for cleaning minor soiling. If you’re wanting to clean the entire rug, I would recommend having a professional do this.

  2. Am going to northern India in a few months and would love to buy a beautiful rug – all silk or silk/wool. Besides the above fantastic advice on testing for real silk, can you give me any other guidance?
    Many thanks!

  3. My new puppy urinated on our silk rug before I could catch him – I used upholstery/carpet stain removing solution on it but it seems the spot remains marked. Do you have any suggestion as to what I could use to clean it properly. It is not so much that a stain remains but that on the spot in question, the fibers seem flattened.
    Grateful for your advice.

  4. Hi Roxy,
    Aside from what’s been mentioned, I don’t know of anything else. I’m hesitant what to tell you to do about the flattened spot as I don’t have any silk carpets myself. I’m hoping the cleaner you used didn’t damage the silk as it’s very delicate.
    Anybody else have any experience? Feel free to chime in!

  5. Roxy – I may be experiencing the same carpet issue. After reading all the cleaning information I may have been negligent by using a spray carpet cleaner. My stain appears to be gone, but there is a shadow over the entire area that I cleaned and the rug feels a bit stiff. I’m going to try “brushing” the carpet pile. Please let me know if you have found a solution.

  6. My Barbara Barry designer silk and wool rug started shedding pieces of silk as soon as I started to vacuum it. I can actually pull the little strands of silk out athough most of them stay in. The rug looks like a sweater with pilling. What is the problem and how can
    I fix it?

  7. Hi Barbara,
    It sounds like you’ve used a vacuum that was too rough on your rug. Silk rugs need to be vacummed gently – no brushes. I don’t think you’ll be able to fix it as you’ve probably ruined it. You could always try using one of those sweater de-fuzzers.

  8. Roxy, My pug had a little urinary incontinence on my silk rug and I used a spray bottle with tap water, about 3 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 to 2 drops of dishwashing soap. I sprayed down the area to saturate, placed a towel beneath and above with a heavy flat weight for several hours. I removed it and then let it air dry. I hope this might help you.

  9. We have 2 small iranian crapets that are silk.
    I was told by a rug dealer to be careful where we take them to have them cleaned because they are are extremely valuble and may end up lost. Because of this I would like to clean them myself.
    I am pretty savy because we lived in Ajerbajan and Kazakstan as well as India for years. they are too dirty to use just soda.
    Please tell me how to clean them
    Thanks
    Diane

  10. Hi Diane,
    I would think that if you took them to a reputable cleaners, you won’t have a problem with the rugs getting ‘lost’. For heavy duty cleaning, I always recommend taking them to a professional.

  11. i
    I have a 5 by 7 foot silk carpet , while having my main carpets steamed cleaned , he steamed clean the silk carpet , now as look at it the shading is showing one half light and the other half darker .
    Prior to this the shading was completly light looking in one direction and dark looking in the other , have you any suggestions as how i can return it to that

  12. Hi Joyce,
    This sounds like something you should take up with the person who cleaned your carpets. It sounds like perhaps he cleaned half the carpet in one direction and the other half of the carpet in the opposite direction, unless s/he switched cleaning products half way through, which I would doubt.

  13. Dear Flooring Lady,
    about a year ago my silk rug had olive oil spilt on it in a single stream across the length of it. (An incpomrehensible accident by an apathetic tradesperson).
    I instantly plunged it into a warm bath and hand washed it. It worked for a while, however, the stain has darkened over the last few months and am wondering if professional cleaning will remove the stain.
    Regards, Angela

  14. Would you please suggest a method to treat blood stains on my mother’s silk rug after a fall she had 4 days ago

  15. I bought a hand-knotted silk rug from Kashmir in January this year and last night a guest spilt a huge glass of red wine all over one end of it. I immediately sprayed it with cold waterand sponged it down with lukewarm water but where the wine is still looks darker. I desperately need to know what to do and am prepared to have it professionally cleaned nut dfon’t know where or what. Can you advise me. I live on the Somerset/Wiltshire border.

  16. Hi,
    I have recntly moved to Kenya and have come home to find my maid has put my silk rug in the washing machine. What is the best way to try and dry this out and get it back to some sort of good condition?

  17. Hi Graham, Aaack! I’m sorry to hear that! I’m afraid that machine washing damages the silk fibers and the colors will most likely bleed and run. At this point, I would say you need to contact an area professional to see what, if anything, can be done.

  18. My silk carpet needs cleaning. What do I need to get a good result. Will cleaning vinegar damage the carpet, can I use a detergent or will just water do the job? All help is welcome

  19. Lisette —
    I have a blue-white Bokhara wool rug, 5’x7′, with minor bits of white SILK thread woven in. The run was/is in excellent condition until we had a fire in our apt — and smoke/soot certainly settled on it.
    What would be the best way, please, to remove the soot/smoke that must be atop the rug?
    thanks bunches/spirits,
    seth j hersh

  20. Seth, I’m a big fan of natural fiber rugs, but they can be more delicate to deal with. By now you may have taken care of your issue, but for others let me recommend a good vacuum to get up the loose particles from the soot.
    If still stained I would have applied baking soda — on a very dry rug — and massaged it in with my fingers to get it into the pile/pattern. After letting it sit for a few hours I would have again vacuumed.
    If there are water stains too, not that you mentioned them, I would then make a solution of StainSolver, a product I found here on TheFlooringLady, and applied it to the entire runner until it was damp. With a rag I’d have scrubbed lightly to help remove the stain, let it sit, and then dab up the solution. This would be followed by a light rinse, being careful to not get the runner very wet.
    Let it air dry and see what happens.

  21. Hello,
    I have a very large Chinese silk carpet which needed cleaned. I contacted a professional in my area and sent the carpet off at my own risk. Came back with some areas a lighter red than the original – looks like some colour may have been lifted.
    Any suggestions on restoring this?

  22. Hi,
    Unfortunately one of our dogs was ill and has made a bad brown mess on the Chinese silk carpet, which is probably not hand-made.
    We have washed off as much as possible with water.
    What do you advise us to do now ?
    Best regards,
    Roy

  23. Roy,
    If the rug is something you treasure or is expensive I suggest having it professionally cleaned.
    If you would like to continue trying to get the stain out yourself I recommend using StainSolver and a rag. Scrub gently to help remove the stain, let the solution sit, and then dab up the solution and then rinse lightly, blotting gently! The least amount of liquid the better!

  24. I have a gorgeous silk rug but was told that one shouldn’t vacuum it as the threads will break from the brushes. What maintenance or sweeper should I use for normal day to day cleaning? don’t they all have brushes?

  25. Hi Carole.
    That is correct. Silk rugs need to be vacuumed gently – no brushes. You could try using one of those sweater de-fuzzers for light daily cleaning.
    In fact we have a comment on this board from one reader who says “My Barbara Barry designer silk and wool rug started shedding pieces of silk as soon as I started to vacuum it”. They do require gentle care.

  26. My dog piddled on our new silk/wool last night and I cannot get the droplet stains out of the carpet. What should I do? I have used carpet cleaner for pet stains, and I have used my Shark steam floor cleaner on it and it still shows up as little droplets. Please help. Thank you, Patricia Jacobson

  27. wat is sweater de-fuzzers?
    i hv several silk carpets which i sent for professional cleaning every few years.
    in between i wld like to do some light cleaning…could someone share advice here? tx so much.

  28. Lina,
    The sweater de-fuzzers are just lint brushes that are sold to help remove lint from clothing.
    You can usually find them in the laundry section of department stores.
    Some of our readers have made some great suggestions through the comments for this article. You may want to read through some of those also.

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