An oriental rug that has been maintained becomes more valuable over time. Oriental rugs are generally family heirlooms, and passed on from generation to generation so correctly storing your rug is important to preserving its condition.
Before you put your oriental rug into storage, the first thing to do is to make sure it is completely cleaned and dried. A professional carpet cleaner is generally a good option if you are not familiar with the proper cleaning techniques. It’s a good idea to spray the rug with a fabric safe moth spray before storing your rug. If you are storing your rug for long-term storage, never wrap your rug with plastic since most oriental rugs are organic and the fabric will not be able to breathe.
Climate controlled storage is important for the preservation of your rug. Avoid spaces where humidity is too high as this can lead to mold and mildew problems. Make sure the storage space has sufficient air circulation, if the area you live in is generally low humidity levels (under 50 RH). A good temperature is generally between 40-60 ° F. It’s important to keep your rug away from dust and dirt. Avoid storing your rug on floors, attics, garages, basements. You should also keep your rug away from sharp edges to avoid indentations. If you are storing on shelves, you should provide a buffer between the wood acids and your rug. Acid free paper should is a good option to use as a barrier as long as the paper is able to absorb acid for lengths of 2-3 years. After that you should change the paper out. If storing in your home, under a bed or closet is a good option to keep out of light. Make sure if you are storing more than one rug, never stack rugs on top of each other, lay them side by side.
The best way to store your oriental rug is to roll it. Folding the rug will cause creases over time and can damage the foundation causing it to break, especially when it comes to oriental rugs such as:
Finely Knotted Rugs (which generally feel like leather), Goat/Wool rugs (if folded will not be able to restore to original condition), Silk Rugs(the delicacy of these rugs will cause permanent creases), and Antique rugs, (which are similar to silk and will also not return to original condition. Folding rugs are only an option if they are smaller rugs or cotton, still you probably want to roll the rugs to avoid permanent damage if you are unsure of the fabric, or length it will be stored for.
Rolling the Rug:
The best way to roll the rug is to roll along a tube that is at least 2” in length longer than your rug. Acid free archival tubes are generally the best option (they are the most expensive, usually over $2.00 per foot), Cardboard tubing can also be used (which is generally a cheaper option). It’s a good idea to stay away from tubing that can give off damaging chemicals and damage your oriental rug.
Start rolling the rug by laying it on a flat surface, make sure there are no folds or creases before you start. Whether you are going to roll the rug “pile in” or “pile out” (Pile=upper layer of the carpet attached to the backing) should depend on the overall condition, whether fragile, knots, silk, if numerous split/breaks, etc. Also if the pile is thick, the rug should be rolled pile facing outward. Place the tubing on the rug starting at the end, it’s usually best to start where the weaving begins. Keep the rug as straight as possible easing up if the rug gets too uneven. Roll the rug tightly till you get to the end. Tie the rug off with string so it is tied firmly in at least 3 ties to keep the carpet from unraveling. You can use muslin (loosely woven cotton fabric) as a finish to your rug, it acts as a good barrier from dust and light, museums will generally use rolled textile sheets or clear polyethylene instead of muslin which protects the rugs from water damage, dust, and helps keep the rug in its original condition for long periods of time.
It’s a good idea to inspect your oriental rug from time to time. Lay it flat allowing it to receive natural light and breathe for a day or 2 before restoring it. Spray the rug with the moth spray again to keep it protected. If you notice any loose fringe, do not trim it, this can cause your rug to unravel. These are some tips to help make your oriental rug storage a success.