How to Clean Mexican Hand-Woven Wool Rugs

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A Mexican hand-woven wool rug is a work of art. Weavers in the Oaxaca region of Mexico translate their Zapotecan history through their rug designs, as they've done for centuries; the result is a museum-quality rug that adds dimension to any room. The natural wool fibers have a high lanolin content, making the rug naturally moisture and stain repellent. However, stains and spots can appear, and when they do, cleaning the rug immediately helps preserve its natural beauty.

Rug Fabrication

Using pure mohair from Angora goats, a mohair and churro-wool blend, or Lincoln wool from goats brought to Mexico from Northern England in the 1800s, hand-woven Mexican rugs are noted for their use of natural wool and yarn that has been hand-spun into double strands, giving each thread extra strength. Hand-weaving results in a stronger rug. The dyes are natural, often fixed with lime juice, and won't rub off or fade.

Warning

  • Beware of synthetic dyes and machine-spun wool in inexpensive Mexican rugs. The threads are thinner and weaker, and, as a result of their processing, contain less lanolin.

Rug Care

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Gentle detergent
  • White cotton cloths or microfiber cloths
  • Cold water

Step 1

Vacuum the rug with the beater bar turned off. Avoid vacuuming the fringe.

Tip

  • Weekly vacuuming keeps the rug free of dirt. Lift the rug and its pad. Shake both and clean under the pad before putting them back onto the floor.

Step 2

Using the cotton or microfiber cloth, blot the stain with cold water. Use a dry cloth and continue to blot until all the water is removed.

Step 3

Apply gentle detergent onto the cloth and transfer to the stain or the entire carpet for an overall clean. Use cold water to dilute the detergent and gently swab the rug.

Tip

  • If possible, use ice water for this step.

Warning

  • Do not use your hands or fingers as the oil from your skin may set the stain further.

Step 4

Blot all the water with a damp, clean cloth, removing all the detergent, as it can attract dirt.

Step 5

Dry the rug outside in low sun. Flatten and stretch the sides until it returns to its original shape, in a step called blocking. Flip the rug occasionally until both sides are dry.

Warning

  • Do not put the rug in the dryer. If inclement weather persists, leave it on top of the dryer or in an airing cupboard until dry. Lay it between two chairs so that both sides dry.

When All Else Fails

If the stain persists, bring the rug to a professional dry cleaner or rug-cleaning service, alerting them to the rug's fabrication and cleaning limitations.

Maintaining Your Rug

Rotate your rug frequently for even wear. Be sure the pad underneath the rug is at least 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and that the rug has an overlap of 1 1/2 inches on all sides. Clean the pad and vacuum underneath it to remove the dirt that transfers from the rug.

References

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