Water damage is caused to oriental and Persian rugs particularly those with a cotton foundation. That is where the warp and weft threads are made of cotton, this is the foundation of the carpet and the woollen pile is woven on to it. This warp and weft is often cotton and can be destroyed with water damage, if a rug is repeatedly wet and not dried properly the cotton will rot and disintegrate.
The most common form of this kind of water damage is from plant pots. The plant is watered every week and if the water runs into the rug the area remains wet and then is wetted again the following week In two or three weeks the foundation of the rug can be so weakened that the fabric can be torn from the affected area easily.
Never place a plant pot directly on a rug or carpet. Planters on or near a rug should be on some sort of stand, they should be placed on a stool, or a small table or support away from the fabric of the rug. After watering the plant check to be sure the rug under it is completely dry.
Rugs are often damaged by flooding in a basement, if rugs are stored they should be properly wrapped and always stored off the ground.
If a rug does get soaking wet, try to dry it completely and if you can keep it flat when it is drying that is better than hanging it. Wet rugs are heavy and can be pulled out of shape as they are drying.
A room can be damp enough to cause a rug to be damaged if there is not sufficient air flow. Enough humidity can be absorbed by the rug to allow mildew and mould to grow and rot the fabric even if there is no noticeable water on the floor. Make sure the rug is not in a room with high humidity and that the room is properly ventilated. Putting the rug on the correct kind of pad improves air flow around the fibres.
A rug that has suffered water damage will often feel stiff when manipulated. The rug will sometimes be so stiff it will be difficult to roll, or fold and as you are attempting to roll or fold it you will hear cracking noises which is the fabric and threads breaking.
Regular vacuuming of an Oriental rug is good for the rug, a dirty rug wears prematurely, and regular vacuuming removes dirt on the surface of the rug and stops it filtering down into the pile where it can accumulate
Don’t use a beater bar on the vacuum to clean the rug, these power brushes can cause too much friction on the pile of an oriental rug and may also tear or spoil the fringes of your rug. If your vacuum cleaner has a power brush, only use it occasionally and lightly on your Oriental rug and for routine cleaning, turn it off. The power brush can shred the fringes and causes rapid wear, the fringes get caught and torn up by the rotating beater bars.