Every Fall and throughout the Holidays, demand for area rug cleaning increases. Unfortunately for some customers permanent stains remain on their wool rug even after thorough cleaning. What most people think is just dirt and spills, is really a combination of spots and stains. The spots will go away, but the stains remain.
So what's the difference between a “Spot” and a “Stain”? Spots are dirt and soil on the surface of carpet fiber and are easily cleaned away. Stains appear as a color or pigment which forms a chemical bond to the fiber much like the dye used to color the fiber to get it to the shade or pattern you purchased.
Stains can be very difficult or impossible to remove. Special solutions and procedures are used to remove the pigment (color) of these deposits. However, due to the aggressive nature of this process, its use is relatively safe on synthetic fibers, but not wool. Therefore, the #1, most important rule in taking care of wool rugs is you MUST protect your wool rugs from stains from day one.
Unlike carpets, many rugs are normally not protected. Do not rely on the retailer, the lanolin in a wool rug is one of the best stain-repellancy coatings around. However, the few things that will defeat it are coffee and sugar, curry, blueberries, or red wine. Personally, I protect any wool purchase before I put it on the floor of my home.
Protection systems vary. If you want to guard against permanent stains, it is useless to protect any carpet or wool rug with ScotchGuard™. You must use an acid-dye protectant for this. An example of this is the Stainmaster™ product from Dupont. Request the use of acid-dye protectant only. In addition, it is recommended to rejuvenate the protection system on a regular basis because as you walk-on or vacuum the rug you lose a little bit of the protection every time. Over time you lose it all!
So, be sure to clean and protect (acid-dye only) every year or two and prevent the permanent stains which would ruin your investment.