Haley Gaetani | June 22 2016
There are hundreds of issues your beloved Oriental rugs can run into, and dry rot is among the worst of them. Mold, mildew, and dry rot all fall under the same category of a particular type of fungi damage, but they all vary in terms of severity. If you suspect that your rug is unfortunately affected by fungus, I’ll try to help you out with what to look for, what caused it, and where to go from there in hopes of salvaging it.
I’ll state the bad news first; dry rot in rugs is irreversible. Once your rug has hit the stage of dry rot, its foundation fibers have already started to deteriorate and it’ll continue to fall apart. The good news is mold and mildew can potentially be removed from your rug if caught early enough.
Here’s how to identify which is what: Mildew appears as a patch of gray or white fungus and only contaminates the surface that it’s on. Out of these types of infestations, it’s the easiest to correct. Mold appears black or gray in color and may look fuzzy in texture. Mold develops a root system that can reach past the surface that it’s sitting on, which makes it harder than mildew to get rid of. It’s important to keep in mind that mold is the type of fungus that agitates allergies, asthma, and can cause lung complications if it’s among the type that are toxic.
Below is an example of mold infestation on an Oriental rug which was able to be removed completely by Ayoub Carpet Service. These before and after pictures are incredible!
Lastly, dry rot appears dark in color, feels extremely stiff to the touch, sounds like wood if you knock on it, cracks and disintegrates when bent, and can appear as a large, dusty hole. The pictures below are the front and back side of an Oriental rug that has been dry rot. Unfortunately, this rug already has holes in it and cannot be salvaged. It’s easier to identify dry rot from the back side of a rug, as you can see here.
What caused it? Moisture issues are the cause of mold, mildew, and dry rotting problems. Too much or too little moisture can be detrimental to your Oriental rug. Some of the most common rug damage caused by too much moisture is from flooding, a humid climate with little to no evaporation taking place due to a barrier (ex: plastic), spills from dog bowls, pet accidents, or over watering a potted plant that leaks out in result. Since liquid seeps through a rug and rests at the bottom of it, it’s easier to see these types of spots from the backside. Too little moisture in rugs that can cause fungus problems are commonly caused by direct sunlight over an extended period of time, age, high heat, or a buildup of cleaning residue.
It’s important that I explain a couple of these in depth, so you can gain some insight on why and how they can be so damaging. With pet urine, the alkaline salts within it can keep the fibers of your rug moist much longer compared to regular water, which creates a higher risk for damage. With cleaning products, this tends to happen most often when people try to clean their rugs on their own and end up not rinsing them out properly. It’s extremely important to be confident in the way you clean your Oriental rugs, otherwise it’s best to get it professionally cleaned. Also, when cleaning, if a whitening product is used on cotton rug fringe, it can be too harsh for the fibers and cause premature dry rot and start to deteriorate as well.
Let’s move on to what can be done in hopes of saving your rugs from these types of problems. First off, it’s a good idea to evaluate your house and look for water sources near any of the rugs you own to see if it’s possible to rearrange them farther away from the water source. By doing this, you’ll be able to prevent any future damage to your rugs that you want to try and avoid altogether. Also, it’s a good idea to rotate your rugs every couple of months, especially is they are in the sunlight, so they wear evenly and not drastically in one spot. Keep in mind that sanitizing your rug if it has pet urine on it is always a smart choice to avoid potential mold problems in the future.
If your rug has mildew or mold on it, your best option is to use a sanitizing product on it before it gets cleaned. This will kill the fungi within your rug and stop it from spreading. All of it will be washed away once it’s cleaned and rinsed out. For dry rot, the side effects can be slowed down by using petroleum or keratin based products. These will help out with the stiffness of your rug and make it less able to crack. Again, dry rot is irreversible, but these types of products will help soften the textiles again. Be sure to avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning, especially on the fringe, to avoid having it fall out if it gets damaged by it. If you get your rug professionally cleaned, always let them know the condition of your rug so it can be accommodated in the appropriate way.
Hopefully this helped you out and you know what to look for and what to expect when trying to treat it. Ayoub’s happy to help you out if you’re still hesitant or unsure, just give us a shout.« Back to All Entries