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Old July 7th, 2016, 08:33 PM   #5
Stephen Pendleton
Posts: n/a
Default Dyestuffs

Re vacuuming, for antique pieces, I generally limit to suction only, turning off the beater. For durable furnishing rugs, I'm less strict. Turning a rug over and vibrating it (I use a modified vibrating sander) can shake out a shocking amount of dust.

Re washing at home, the most important thing is knowing enough about dyes to know what's safe to wash. Vegetal dyes in antique rugs or recent "natural dye" rugs are usually wash-fast (and that's one reason that collectors prefer traditional dyes). Chrome dyes in rugs woven under controlled conditions should be safe to wash. Some synthetic dyes widely used especially in nomadic and village rugs after (say) 1910 are highly unsafe to wash. As a too-broad generalization, a whole generation of post-war village rugs is at high risk of running on contact with water. You can test dyes to an extent, e.g., by rubbing a damp white handkerchief color-by-color on the back of the rug. If you're confident that the dyes are sound, you can wash rugs at home, and many people do.

For scatter-sized pieces, fill the bathtub with cool water, add some dissolved Orvis paste (an industrial form of sodium laural sulphate, like baby shampoo without colorants, fragrances, or other additives), lower the rug in the water, wet thoroughly, agitate by hand, soak for a few hours, and if necessary repeat. When done washing, rinse very thoroughly (hosing it down in the driveway works). I use a squeegee to pull water off the wet rug, then a shop vac to get even more water out. Dewatering reduces risk of run. To dry the rest of the way, I made a frame with rope supports to hold the rug in a kind of net off the ground, then run a fan under it to encourage evaporation. It often takes a day or more to dry. It's hard work but almost free. For carpet-size pieces, I bite the bullet and pay a local specialty dealer to wash and dry.
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