How to Clean a Navajo Wool Rug

Navajo wool rugs are more than simple floor coverings. They are works of art. As such, you should treat them with care. This care doesn't need to be difficult or time consuming, however. Regularly vacuuming both sides of the rugs each time you clean should be sufficient to maintain the color and texture of the rug and prevent moths and carpet beetles, commonly found in wool fibers, from infesting your home and damaging the rug. Nancy Odegaard, head of Preservation at Arizona State Museum, recommends taking heavily soiled rugs to a professional dry cleaner experienced with Navajo textiles.

Step 1

Place the rug on a flat surface. A floor or table works well.

Step 2

Vacuum the top surface well to remove dust and dirt. Make sure you are vacuuming without brushes. They, especially rotating ones, can damage the fibers and cause holes and weak spots.

Step 3

Flip the rug over, and straighten it on the flat surface.

Step 4

Vacuum the other side of the rug to remove moth and carpet beetle eggs, larvae and insects.

Tip

Some Navajo rugs may be dry-cleaned. Have a cleaner experienced with Navajo textiles test the dye colors before beginning the cleaning process.

Even Navajo rugs that you have as wall hangings should be taken down and vacuumed regularly.

Warning

Do not wash your Navajo wool rug. Many Navajo dyes are water soluble and will run or bleed when wet. Water also causes the fibers to stretch, altering the look and texture of the rug.

Do not snap the rug to shake dirt loose. Snapping breaks the threads and shortens the life of the rug. Give your rugs a gentle shake to loosen amounts of sand or dirt too large for the vacuum to handle.

References & Resources