Flat Woven Rugs

Flatwoven rugs, or "flatweaves," comprise numerous types of rugs with names such as Aubusson, Berber, dhurrie, drugget, killim (kilim or kelim), Navajo, rag rug, soumak and Zapotec. These rugs are usually handwoven in a tapestry-like construction, and have a flat surface without a distinctive raised pile. Many f1atwoven rugs are reversible. Currently the most popular flatweave types are the dhurries with cotton or wool face yarns, killims with wool face yarns, and rag rugs made of cotton or polyester fabric scraps. Dhurries traditionally are woven in India and Afghanistan; killims usually are woven in Turkey, but also are produced in other countries; and rag rugs are woven in many countries, including the United States.

These popular rugs provide excellent service, along with good value and a pleasing appearance. Unfortunately, they also characteristically exhibit some problems when cleaned. The warp, or lengthwise yarns, in most flatwoven rugs are generally cotton, although they may be wool, or occasionally silk, in older or finer rugs. These lengthwise yarns are hand-wound onto the loom before weaving. Irregularities in warp and weft positioning, tension and weave structure appear in woven goods from even the best weavers. Additionally, there may be a range of variations in yarn twist and diameter. Cleaning reveals these inherent irregularities, which may or may not be visible before cleaning, in the form of curling, rippling, striping or buckling in the rug. The sides or edges of these rugs are especially prone to curling.

Some f1atwoven rugs may have pattern markings placed on the warp by the weaver. These are usually marked with colored chalk or ink (red, blue or black) to aid in the weaving The markings are completely hidden as the rug is woven, but since the markings are seldom colorfast they can bleed during cleaning. Since the cleaner has no way of predicting this inherent problem in advance, it is not the cleaner's fault.

The yarns on the surface of the rugs are sometimes bright, bold colors that may bleed when cleaned. Your professional Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration cleaner takes precautions to avoid this condition by using the most appropriate cleaning techniques. Despite cautious handling of such rugs, there is some unavoidable risk of dyebleeding (or color run) after cleaning. It may not be possible to remove dyes that have bled. This problem is linked to poor dye selection and improper dyeing and handling during manufacture. In addition, most dyes are weakened by age, exposure to sunlight, atmospheric fumes, and pet urine and spills—all of which contribute to dyebleeding before, during and after cleaning.

Many flatweaves have fringes that are continuations of the warp yarns, which are part of the rug's weave structure. All fringes fray and darken with age and dirt. Only special chemical treatment can lighten the fringe color. Some cleaners prefer to leave the fringe "natural" looking.

Flatwoven rugs have limited cleanability because their flat surface readily shows soil, dirt, dust, spills and stains. Many dhurrie rugs are designed in pastel colors and, hence, always appear more soiled than darker rugs. Flatwoven rugs, therefore, should be vacuumed regularly and cleaned more frequently than other rugs. Application of a fluorocarbon-based protective treatment may be advisable.