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How to Clean the Fringe on Oriental Rugs

Tasseled fringe on an Oriental rug

Rug fringe is a byproduct of the weaving process of rugs. This is a feature that many rug enthusiasts really enjoy about their Oriental or Persian rugs. However, when the fringe starts to look dirty or dingy on your antique rug, cleaning it can be a hassle.

Oriental Rug Materials

Oriental rugs come in a variety of styles. However, they are typically made of three different materials: cotton, wool and silk. While cotton is a versatile material, cleaning methods for silk and wool will require a gentler cleaner. This is because harsh chemicals can damage the fibers and harm the fringe.

Take Precaution

Before trying any of the cleaning methods, it is important to pay attention to the care instructions and materials listed on your rug. Additionally, it is not recommended to use harsh chemicals like bleach on fringe, because this can harm the fibers. This may also lead to fringe breaking off.

Multipurpose Cleaning Method

This cleaning method uses gentle cleaners and can work on all types of rugs. It is good for spot cleaning fringe or an overall cleaning. Additionally, it can work on all colors, as well as white and off-white.

Materials

  • Vacuum
  • Soft bristle brush or horse hair brush
  • Dish detergent, laundry detergent or rug cleaner
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Towel or tarp
  • Spray bottle

Instructions

  1. To protect your floor under the fringe, put down a towel or rug. A tarp might be easier for large rugs.
  2. Thoroughly vacuum the entire rug. Use a handheld attachment or vacuum without the beater brush.
  3. Use the brush to comb out the fringe. Make sure the comb is soft and gentle. This step will help to remove most of the remaining dirt.
  4. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
  5. Spray down the fringe. The vinegar will not only neutralize odors but the gentle acid will help loosen stains.
  6. Mix a couple cups of water with a cap full of cleaner.
  7. Using the brush, gently scrub the fringe with the soap mixture.
  8. Rinse with water.
  9. Allow to air dry.

Ammonia Solution

Some cotton and wool rugs are a bit more durable. These types of Oriental rugs can take a harsher chemical approach when cleaning dirty fringe. Additionally, ammonia is safe for most colors, but just to be sure, spot test an inconspicuous area.

What You Need

  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Vacuum
  • Tarp or towel
  • Sponge (preferably white)
  • Soft brush
  • Gloves for protecting hands
  • Spray bottle

Method

  1. Lay out the tarp or towel to protect the floor underneath the rug.
  2. Vacuum the entire rug with a handheld attachment.
  3. Brush out the fringe to remove any hidden dirt.
  4. Mix 1/8 cup of ammonia in a cup of water.
  5. Dip a sponge or towel in the ammonia mixture and gently dab fringe. Repeat until the stain or dirt is removed.
  6. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water.
  7. Spray the fringe with the vinegar as a rinse.
  8. Allow to air dry.

Using Bleach on White Fringe

The fibers used to make rug fringe are typically an off-white or light brown color. If your fringe is bright white, it has been through a bleaching process. This can make the fibers more delicate. While it would seem like bleaching them back to white would be a good idea, it is not recommended because the harsh bleach can further damage the fibers and lead to breakage.

When It Can't Be Cleaned

Whether the fringe on your Oriental rug is thoroughly stained or damaged, sometimes cleaning it isn't possible. In this instance, there are a few options you might consider.

  1. Cut it shorter. If you have really long fringe or fringe that is starting to break off, you can cut it down. This can remove some damaged areas and make it easier to clean.
  2. If the thought of cutting fringe scares you, try to hide it. This can be done by tucking the tassels up under the rug itself.
  3. Replace them. Another possibility for dealing with damaged fringe is calling a professional to replace them or trying to replace them yourself. This can give you the new, bright look you've been craving.

Keeping It Clean

While fringe is a great decorative element for your new Oriental rug, cleaning it can be a battle. Whether your cat relieved itself on it or the rug is just starting to look dingy, there are cleaning methods you can try depending on what material was used to make your rug.

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How to Clean the Fringe on Oriental Rugs