I call these rugs fake because they are made by quickly punching tufts into a canvas backing and covering it with a lot of latex glue to keep it together. Then, the top loops are sheared off, so it looks like a pile-woven rug on the top, but it is not.
It can take many months or even years to weave a rug. These rugs are works of art.
The “look” of an actual rug can be achieved (to the untrained ear) at a fraction of the cost and construction time. The majority of carpets are “commodity rugs.” They are made in days, not months, and will last several years, unlike woven oriental rugs, which can often outlive their owners by several generations.
As with any decision where you cut corners to make a cheaper, faster version, the consequences are inevitable. There are consequences and limitations when cleaning tufted rugs.
No matter what material is used to cover the back of tufted carpets, it’s all just latex holding the wool tufts in place.
You’re right; it looks much better when covered with fabric. =)
We have already mentioned that tufted rugs are cheaper than woven rugs because they are made faster.
Some exceptions, like Edward Fields’ hand-crafted tufted rugs, are of higher quality but only represent 1% of the market. I am referring to what is produced in China, India, the U.S.A., and other countries.
We’ll discuss some of the “consequences,” so you won’t be surprised when these issues arise.
You will be surprised if you place a tufted carpet on a soft surface, such as wall-to-wall flooring. Then you set heavy furniture on top.
Even though a lot of latex is on the back, these rugs are still susceptible to cracking if too much weight is concentrated on certain points. These lumps may not be able to be corrected if there is no durable pad underneath the rug that supports the furniture.
To keep the shape of these rugs, they must be placed on a hard surface. Face fibers are not looped around warps as they are in woven rugs but are instead looped into a U shape. This means that the only thing keeping them in place is the thin layer of glue. Look at the fibers that are falling from a torn corner in a tufted carpet:
It’s not much to keep those “U” fibers in place. Even with brand-new tufted rugs, you can pull out a fiber by grabbing it and pulling.
Even if your rug is new, it will not be able to withstand too much weight or bending.
Over time, latex will degrade. Delamination can be a much messier problem than in the past.
Latex is mixed with “filler” in some lower-quality tufted rugs (especially some from India) to extend the batch and provide a firmer adhesive application.
Sometimes it is marble dust, and other times, concrete. It is always a mess when it gets wet.
The fact that many tufted rugs can’t be soaked properly without causing a huge mess is the greatest danger rug cleaners face today. The rug cracks, crumbles, and powders across the back and can “poof” through the front.
The rug will lose its shape because the heavy latex filler was what made it stiff and square, to begin with.
You can test this by pulling off a corner of the rug.
What happens when you apply an ugly, messy latex application and then cover it with a clean, cotton-based material?
It looks good at first. Over time, it starts to turn yellow. )…
What do you think happens to cotton when it is washed and all the dirt, glue, dyes, and other “unmentionables,” like soil and glue, are filtered through the cotton as a filter? Let me show you.
When you own a tufted carpet, the backing will get marks when washed.
The backing of the rug will look different if you soak it.
You can improve some of these marks by cleaning the backside with an upholstery tool to try and remove some of the browning. This adds extra cleaning time and costs, but most people don’t care about the rug’s backside as long as it looks clean.
It is possible to replace the backing material with a brand new one if the extra cleaning time is insufficient to improve it. (Sometimes, this is easier than cleaning the back carefully and removing the discoloration.
The stenciling ink that marks the tufts (usually blue or pink) can also bleed and wick away when wet.
You should be careful when washing rugs that have this kind of flaw. The ink can get stuck to the fibers and cause large ink spots.
Look for clues on the backside that stenciling was used. Look at the front fibers to see if there is anything visible.
Stenciling is a messy job. You may only want to surface clean a rug if you notice the ink during the inspection and it bleeds on your dye test.
Surface cleaning is not the most thorough method, but it’s the only option that will work in this case, especially if your equipment can’t remove water quickly from the rug.
It can be difficult to clean tufted rugs after floods or pet urine exposure.
Getting rid of the smell from a rug contaminated with pet urine can be nearly impossible. Imagine urine penetrating thick glue. Do you think a quick clean will remove the contaminants from that adhesive?
The tufted rug must be completely soaked in water to decontaminate and wash. The longer you soak the rugs, the worse they will be.
There’s no way out.
It is important to soak the material to remove odor-causing contaminants. However, soaking can cause delamination, discoloration, watermarks, and yellowing of the backing.
What is a rug cleaner to do?!?
Tell the rug owner what you want to do. If you decide to wash the rug, ensure you have a liability release for the worst-case scenarios that may occur during the soaking. Punishing the cleaner for limitations caused by poor rug construction is unfair.