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Cleaning a Historic Carpet


The care of historic carpets is often an overlooked necessity.


Textiles, by their nature, are some of the most vulnerable historic artefacts being susceptible to insect attack, mould, UV light degradation, inherent weaknesses, long-term dye effects and mechanical damage from use.


Carpets and rugs are very good filters, trapping dirt, including soils from foot traffic, dust, hair and other fibres, grit, airborne particles, oily soils like soot and other fine particles.


Soils of this nature accelerate the wear and degradation of fibres, so periodic cleaning is essential not only to maintain the visual appearance, but also to slow the rate of deterioration and help preserve carpets and rugs for future generations.


Conservation treatments should ideally be reversible but in the case of cleaning, this is simply not possible. Therefore, it is essential that any cleaning undertaken is properly informed and implemented. At Historic Carpet Care, we have adapted commercial cleaning processes and equipment to suit a conservation environment to ensure that the carpet and rugs are preserved in the best possible condition, whilst removing as much damaging soiling as possible. Many dry surface cleaning processes can be safely undertaken, either by ourselves, or following training of house staff or volunteers.


Preparing a historic rug for cleaning

At Historic Carpet Care, we take every step possible to ensure that the item is preserved in the best possible condition, whilst removing as much damaging soil as possible. To enable this, we have adapted cleaning processes and equipment to suit a conservation environment. For additional conservation work that requires removal from the property we can assist in rolling and packing for transport and in locating facilities capable of performing further treatments.


Wet cleaning a large historic carpet is seldom undertaken due to size, weight, the fragility of the item, access and environmental factors. The techniques developed by Glyn and Ksynia have been used to safely clean carpets in-situ at historic properties and the research carried out by Frances Hartog (2016-17) has further increased our understanding of available and appropriate methods.


You can access the research report and view a recorded zoom presentation by Ksynia Marko and Glyn Charnock regarding the wet cleaning of a large historic carpet in-situ below.

Downloads as a PDF (1.7mb)

Links to You Tube Video

A Historic Carpet
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