How To Care for Kilims
Kilims are flatwoven textiles that are made of intersecting warps and wefts. For thousands of years, kilims have been woven to serve utilitarian purposes, such as for floor coverings in tents, tent covers, tent bands, baby cradles, and numerous other functions. Throughout history, however, kilims have also been enjoyed not just for their utilitarian benefits, but also for their great beauty and unique aesthetic. In recent times especially, kilims have gained a wide popularity in American and European interior design. This article aims to provide a guideline for how to care for handwoven kilims so that they can be preserved and handed down to future generations.
Authentic kilims woven in the true nomadic tradition in which they originated are most often made of a combination of the following natural materials: sheep's wool, goat hair, camel hair, and less often, cotton. Weavers wove with materials readily available to them so it is less common to find nomadic silk kilims. As with any other textile made of these materials, it is very important that kilims be kept clean in between professional cleanings.
The best way to clean kilims is how the first users of kilims cleaned them - by shaking them and beating them. Shaking and beating removes dirt and dust that can settle in between fibers and in the tiny crevices where warps meet wefts. If you are not able to shake or beat your kilims, you may vacuum them on a low suction setting, but you must take special care not to vacuum any loose yarns or delicate weaving that can damage your kilim. In addition, it is important never to vacuum your kilim's fringes as these are the most delicate and vulnerable to damage. In addition to shaking, beating, or when possible, vacuuming your kilims, it is also important to occasionally rotate your kilims 180 degrees. How often you need to do this depends on how high traffic area your kilim is in and how much exposure to the sun your kilim gets. Occasionally rotating your kilim ensures that your kilim will be exposed to the sun's rays more evenly and any color muting will be more consistent. Also, rotating your kilim will ensure that any wear to your kilim from repeated patterns of foot traffic will be more evenly dispersed.
If you do not walk with shoes on in your home, do not have pets, and consistently follow the tips above, it is recommended that you have your kilims professionally cleaned about every four to five years. If you do have pets or walk with shoes on in your home, you should send your kilims to a professional cleaner every two years, or more often if heavily soiled. A professional cleaning will enable to thoroughly clean your kilim and help you preserve it for future generations. In addition, if you notice that your kilim's fringes are unraveling or an area has become worn and the warp and weft are damaged, a professional kilim restorer will be able to reweave it and either repair or restore it.
How To Store Handmade Rugs and Kilims To Minimize the RIsks of Moth Damage
Will you be renovating your home and need to put away your handmade rugs or kilims for a few months? Have you just inherited a beautiful Persian carpet that has been in your family for generations? Have you just moved to a new home and haven't figured out yet where to put your Oriental rugs or kilims and want to put them away until you decide? There are many reasons why people at one point or another need to store their rugs or kilims for an extended period of time. If you follow just a few guidelines, you can minimize many of the risks associated with storing your valuable rugs and kilims. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate the risks of moth damage completely, but follow these guidelines, and you'll at least minimize the risk of having your rugs or kilims damaged while they are in storage:
1. Whenever you store wool rugs or kilims, you should always have them professionally cleaned first. Moths are attracted to dust and dirt; storing a dirty carpet is very risky and greatly increases the chances of having your piece damaged by moths.
2. Wrap the carpet or kilim in a cotton sheet or any other natural material that will allow the rug or kilim to "breathe." Never store your rugs or kilims in plastic. Plastic or other similar sealing material provides the ideal humid environment for moths to flourish and devour your wool items.
3. Store your rugs and kilims in an area that is exposed to cross-ventilation. Closets are among the worst places you can store your wool rug or kilim because they provide an ideal dark and stagnant environment to which moths are attracted.
4. Keep your rug or kilim away from other wool products while it is in storage.
5. It may seem obvious, but never store your rug or kilim in an area that you know has had a moth infestation.
6. Every few weeks, open your rug or kilim for a day and place it an area where it can be exposed to some sunlight and cross-ventilation (although you may not want to place an antique rug in direct sunlight if it will cause it to fade). Examine the piece for any signs of moths or moth damage and if you find any, take it as soon as possible to a professional Oriental rug cleaner and restorer to have the problem addressed. Do not procrastinate and give moths more time to extend the damage.
Lastly, remove your rug or kilim from storage as soon as you can find a good home for it. Rugs and kilims were made to be enjoyed so never store them for longer than you have to. Follow these guidelines and you'll go a long way to minimizing the risk of having any damage done to your handmade rugs and kilims while they are in storage.
What to Do When You Inherit a Persian Rug
Many people first begin to learn about handmade rugs when they inherit a piece from a grandparent, parent, or other family member. Below are some guidelines one should follow after inheriting a Persian, Oriental, or other handmade rug:
1. Have the rug professionally cleaned. Unless you are sure that the rug has been professionally cleaned recently, it is highly recommended that you have the rug cleaned by a reliable professional Oriental rug cleaner. Removing dirt deeply embedded between the fibers is something that normal vacuuming is unable to do. In addition, a professional cleaning will minimize the risk of moth damage in a wool rug.
2. If you plan to store the rug, be sure to take the proper steps to avoid damaging the rug while it is in storage. Again, a professional cleaning is imperative if you intend to store the rug for any extended period of time. Store the rug in a well-ventilated bright area so to minimize the risk of moth damage. Also be sure to periodically check the rug for any moth infestation. Never store wool rugs in dark and humid spaces such as closets.
3. If you plan to use the rug, be sure to check the rug for any damaged areas. Pay special attention to the fringe area, selvages (the vertical edges of the rug), or other areas where there might have been heavy furniture or repeated stress on the pile (such as dining room chairs being moved across a specific area). Have fringe repair, selvage repair, or worn pile addressed before using the rug. It is often much easier (and therefore less costly) to address unraveling fringes or damaged selvage when they first start and before they proceed to compromise other parts of the rug.
4. Add your rug to your insurance coverage. Often, this might require a rug appraisal. Be sure to obtain a written appraisal from a knowledgeable expert.
5. Take time to write down the provenance of the rug. A rug appraisal will provide information about the formal provenance of the rug, but you might want to memorialize your rug's place in your own personal family history. This will be much appreciated when it is time for you to pass on the rug. Remember, one of the wonderful things about handmade rugs is that they can last several lifetimes.
6. Let your "new" rug inspire you to learn more about handmade rugs - there is so much to learn and admire about these woven heirlooms.
Do you have a suggestion for an article or a question about rug or kilim care? Please contact us with your questions and /or suggestions!
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