Can You Wash a Kilim Rug in the Washing Machine?

One of the most tedious tasks when it comes to doing your laundry is figuring out which items to wash on which cycle, at what temperature and at what speed. Most of our clothes usually come with washing instructions, telling us exactly what temperature will keep our favorite tops and jeans looking good for seasons to come.

It still doesn’t make it any more fun to consult each and every label of our laundry pile, though. And yet, after a laundry-fail or two, the kind that sees your favorite wool sweater return from the washing machine five sizes too small, we come to appreciate the instructions we are provided.

However, every now and then, we’ll come across items that are shrouded in mystery in terms of how to properly cleanse and care for them. Household textiles such as rugs and curtains often fall into this category. We all know they need to be cleansed regularly, but how?

What is a Kilim Rug?

Anyone who has ever owned a kilim rug will be familiar with this dilemma. These traditional tapestry-woven carpets from Turkey, Iran, the Balkans and the former Persian Empire, are popular decorative features in homes across the world.

Available in different colors and featuring a variety of popular motifs usually symbolizing fertility or protection, kilim rugs are beautiful flatwoven pieces of art, and though they are very resistant – made to walk on or shelter from harsh weathers – they require particular care during the cleansing process.

How to Care for a Kilim Rug

Kilim rugs are too sensitive for the washing machine and dryer. It will rough up their unique texture and cause them to lose their attraction and volume. It could also affect their coloring.

Typically, these rugs don’t need cleaning more than once a year, and if you follow these steps, you can keep it looking bright and new for a long time.

  1. Get rid of dust, pet hair etc. by brushing the kilim rug with a hand-broom or vacuuming it on a low setting. Never use it on a strong setting, and do not move it over the fringes. Repeat this process on the other side.
  2. Never use chemical detergents on a kilim rug. The two ingredients that come strongly recommended for cleaning solutions are vinegar or pure olive oil soap. Dilute either with cold water to create your own cleansing solution.
  3. Use your hands to gently massage your homemade rug cleaner into the kilim. Make sure it is evenly dispersed.
  4. Apply soft strokes with a bristle brush and dip it into the soap mixture as needed.
  5. Use a rounded pot lid to push the solution deeper into the rug.
  6. Repeat this process several times before gently rinsing the rug with a showerhead or any other method available to you.
  7. Dry the rug in indirect sunlight to protect the colors. Flip it twice a day to ensure both sides are drying out evenly.

Always Hand-Wash the Hand-Made

Handmade items – whether textiles such as the kilim rug or hand-painted ceramics – should always be maintained the same way they were created: by hand. Items as such are a lot more sensitive to chemical cleaning products and machine treatment, be it the washing machine or the dishwasher.

Kilim rugs have a rich cultural tradition and are crafted with great care, creativity and spirituality. It is your responsibility to maintain this traditional piece of art with the same sensitivity and caution that went into the creation of this unique, handwoven middle eastern gem.

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