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How to Buy and Care for Silk Rugs

Few materials can rival the luxury feel of silk. We all have heard of silken gowns, accessories and even decorations, but what about carpets? Silk rugs make for a great investment, but taking a good care of them can be both expensive and time consuming. Still, the hard work is worth the final effect of a well-maintained silk rug, which can last you and your family for decades. Silk rugs enjoy a constant popularity among art collectors and interior designers, thank to their unique sheen and unforgettable softness. Silk appears in a large number of different rug types, from Persian to Oriental. In this article we would like to show how your interior can benefit from the presence of a silk rug and how to safely purchase one.

Initially silk was developed in the ancient China, with the oldest examples of Chinese silk dated back 8,500 years. This fiber is commonly produced from the cocoon of the silk worm. After harvesting the cocoon in which silk worm pupa matures, it is unwound into single fibers, which are later are spun into threads. Such threads can be then safely used for weaving. While silk is naturally lustrous thanks to  prism-like structure of the fibers, after dyeing its surface becomes glossy, further enhancing depth and beauty of colors. Usually the thinner the nap of the pile and the higher the knot count per square inch, the more valuable the silk rug is. Experts claim that a high quality authentic silk rug should have between 200 and 500 knots per square inch and a fringe, if it has one, always made of the same material. Due to the high price of this material, an artificial silk was developed. Carpets made of artificial silk have not as much knots, with 150 being the most popular number and are not held in the same regard as authentic silk.


How to see wherever your rug of choice is made of real silk? There are few ways of doing that. The simplest way is to rub it’s surface vigorously with an open palm. Natural silk will warm up quickly while its artificial counterpart will stay cool to touch. If possible, take a small thread of the carpet and burn it – the smell of burnt hair is an indicator of real silk. Buying rug in person makes things much simpler, however it is not always possible. When buying online, ask your rug dealer for all specifications of the piece and as many photographs as possible – this way not only will you be able to get a closer look at the rug, but also check seller’s integrity, as the honest ones are eager to show off their prized carpets.

Depending on whether or now you want to purchase an antique silk rug, there is a series of different steps to undertake. In case of an antique silk rug, you should always carefully check its condition. Luckily you don’t have to be a trained professional to notice signs of a badly maintained antique rug.  To see if your carpet of choice is not rotten or cracked, turn it face down and look for any odd-colored patches. It is common even for well-maintained carpets to have yellowed or grayish threads which indicate its age. Carpet devout of that is undoubtedly new. Signs of mildew should make you wary of this particular piece, but dirt can be as much of an issue. Dust can be easily removed using gentle cleaning solutions or professional help, stains and spills might irreparably destroy delicate silk fibers.  Try folding the carpet across in both direction and listen for any disturbing noises. They might indicate that there is something wrong with carpet’s weft. Any repairs can be spotted right away by moving your hand over the front and the back of the rug. Bumpy and rough areas are signs that the carpet was repaired, which is only a bad thing is your seller claims it was never damaged. In case of contemporary silk rugs you still should make sure that piece you are buying is in perfect condition, especially if you are purchasing a pre-owned carpet.


After purchasing your dream silk rug, it’s time for even more shopping. As mentioned before, silk is a very delicate material, which can be easily damaged if not cared for properly. Be careful using any commercial chemical solutions for cleaning. Silk can’t be exposed to heat or chemicals without risking damage. Ideally it  should be washed on both the front and back with a solution made specifically for silk fibers. Spills are one of the most common type of soiling that can happen to any rug. Although some liquids such as wine or red juices can be disastrous and difficult to remove, most of them can be cleaned quickly and painlessly, provided that you will take care of it immediately. Use either a paper towel or a soft cloth to gently daub at the spill to absorb all the moisture. In extreme cases you can use a bit of cleaning solution and using circular motions remove the spill.

In order to keep it in good shape, your silk rug should be thoroughly cleaned at least once every three-five years. While basic cleaning routine can be performed at home, anything more complex is better left in the hands of professionals. Most rug cleaners will offer a deep dusting, followed by pre-treatment for stain removal and hand washing of the silk rugs. While costly, such companies are bound to take the best care possible of your rug and give some helpful tips and information concerning its condition. In case of any tears or holes, never try to repair them on your own, unless you posses some serious skill. Stitches and mends made by someone inexperienced can further damage the rug and no one would want that.

Doris Leslie Blau’s elegant collection of contemporary rugs and modern carpets is everything one could ever dream of. If you are interested in owning a high quality rug from the most exotic corners of earth, be sure to browse through our website and indulge in the most luxurious shopping experience.