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How To Clean Wool and Silk Rugs or Carpets

Silk and wool carpets both require special care. Many stain remedies will be incompatible with these materials and may cause irreparable damage. Enzymatic cleaners are of particular concern, as any enzymes that digest protein based stains will also affect the silk/wool fibers. Although you may ultimately decide to turn to professional assistance, the following recommendations can be helpful for identifying which stain removal techniques are safest. Test any technique in an inconspicuous area first, and examine carefully for undesirable results like  discoloration or changes in texture. When choosing a commercial cleanser, read labels carefully. Keep in mind that commonly available products like Resolve, are often formulated for use on synthetic carpeting rather than natural fibers like wool and silk.

While wool carpets can be damaged by enzymes, alkalies, acids and bleaches, they can be treated with water and a mild pH neutral detergent like Dove or Ivy. Dilute the detergent well with water to form a lightly sudsy solution. Use a clean sponge or cloth to apply the solution to problem areas. Use a blotting rather than a rubbing motion to avoid spreading or grinding in the stain. Follow treatment with a clear water rinse and blot dry or use an appropriate wet/dry vacuum. Avoid over wetting the carpet (treated areas should be able to dry within 12 hours at most), and avoid walking on any areas that have been treated. This will help prevent shrinkage and other types of distortion that if allowed might adversely affect the appearance of your wool rug or carpet.

Even water can damage silk. Use dry cleaning solutions like the Dryel Stain kit, following the manufacturer's instructions. The kit contains a spot-remover solution and absorbent pads. Clean dry paper towels, or clean dry cloths can be substituted for the absorbent pads. Use white towels and cloths free of patterns and decorations to help avoid dye transfer.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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