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Kilim rugs are beautiful works of art, but they were made to be used and walked on. They can be very durable and resistant. That said, they can also need special attention and care when it comes to maintaining them and cleaning them. While it is strongly recommended that strong detergents and harsh cleaning agents are avoided, there are easy ways to clean a kilim at home.
Vacuum a Kilim
Use a good vacuum at the correct setting for regular cleaning, vacuuming both sides. Never vacuum on a high suction setting. Never use a washing machine and dryer to clean a kilim. The best place to wash a kilim is outside on grass or gravel with cold water from a hose. Never wash it on a flat surface; the water needs to be able to drain away to avoid over-soaking the kilim and making the colours run. Use soft natural soap or baby shampoo to clean the kilim.
If the colours are fading, use a solution of half vinegar, half cold water on the kilim. Use a very soft bristly brush on both sides and then rinse with cold water. Lay the kilim flat to dry in the shade, rotating if necessary to drive evenly. It is also recommended to flip it to prevent sun damage if the kilim takes a while to dry and is in the sun.
In the event of an accidental spill or stain, treat the stain immediately. Remove any solid pieces from the stain carefully to avoid pressing them into the fabric. Leaving the kilim on the floor, immediately blot the stain to remove all excess liquid as possible. Start from the edge of the stain and move towards the centre to avoid spreading the stain more. When finished blotting, take a shallow container with a slightly larger lip than the stain and place it under the stain.
Dilute the stain as much as possible with a clean, cold water rinse. Remove the container, flatten the kilim and blot out the liquid. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone. To dry the spot, keep in mind that carpets need to breathe when drying. Using a hairdryer in a low or cold setting can also dry the spot faster and prevent a ring from forming.
If there are stains that stubbornly remain or a professional is needed or preferred, there are a few things to look for when choosing a cleaning service. Do not take straight to a dry cleaner. Dry cleaners can use harsh chemicals that will damage the kilim. Search for a professional cleaning service that has experience with a kilim and understands and follow the best cleaning practices for cleaning a kilim.
Once again, never use a harsh or strong detergent or cleaning agent. If there is a pesky stain or a strong desire to use one, spot test it first before proceeding and use it only after highly diluting it first. Use a cold-water rinse multiple times until the detergent is completely gone. Never vacuum over the fringes of a kilim. This can lead to them tearing off, fraying and damaging the edges of the kilim. If using a soft-bristled brush, use short, gentle strokes and brush both sides of the rug. Begin at the top corner and work across the length of the carpet, moving downward.
Keeping a kilim clean can take a little more work than a studier carpet or rug, but with the right care, it doesn’t have to be too often. With the right care and patience, a beautiful kilim can last a long time and one day become a family heirloom.