Silk carpets and rugs have a natural shimmer and smooth, soft texture that can’t be beaten by other materials. Composed largely of a protein called fibroin, silk is also surprisingly strong. In terms of tensile strength, silk fibres can even compete with steel yarn.
However, it’s important to know how to clean silk carpets and rugs correctly. Silk fibres lose much of their strength when they’re wet. They’re also not highly elastic (meaning that if you stretch silk, it will stay stretched) and are easily damaged by abrasion, heat and strong chemicals. In some cases, even just water can damage silk.
Of course silk carpets and rugs – especially pure-silk ones – tend to be valuable, making it imperative that you treat them with care.
Maintaining silk carpets and rugs
The best guideline for maintaining prized silk carpets is to keep them out of trouble in the first place. Don’t situate them where they’ll be subject to heavy foot traffic or frequent spills, which make more frequent cleaning necessary and may cause irreparable damage. Also keep silk carpets out of direct sunlight, which can cause colours to fade and will weaken the silk fibres.
You should vacuum silk carpets frequently, picking up dirt before it can be ground into the fibres. However, note that you shouldn’t use a roller brush or beater at all. Another safe alternative is to go the more traditional route – hang a silk rug outside and beat it to remove dust and dirt, while also giving it an airing.
What to avoid when cleaning silk
In terms of cleaning silk carpets, there are some definite “no-no’s”:
- don’t use enzymatic cleaners, which use enzymes to digest protein-based stains – silk consists largely of protein, so these cleaners may break down the silk fibers
- don’t use hot water or steam; heat can cause silk to shrink
- don’t rub, wring or scrub the carpet, to avoid damaging its fibres
- don’t bunch or stretch the carpet, to avoid permanently changing its shape
- never consider applying chlorine bleach to silk; it won’t just cause colour loss – it will destroy the fibres
- don’t soak the carpet, not even in water.
Guidelines for treating stains on silk carpets
For serious stains, don’t hesitate – call a professional cleaner and have the problem dealt with by experts.
For less serious stains, you might choose to risk home treatment. As for all stains, the faster you act, the more likely you are to succeed. So don’t wait for a liquid stain to dry before attempting to get it out.
First use an absorbent pad or paper towel to blot up as much of the spill as possible. Avoid the temptation to rub.
Next fill a spray bottle with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar, ensuring that the solution is cool or tepid at most. Heavily mist the affected area of the carpet and blot up the moisture. Repeat this process until the offending stain has (if you’re lucky) been completely removed. Then let the carpet dry naturally.
We’ve been doing this for over two decades so you can rest assured we’ll treat your silk carpets and rugs with the delicate care they require.