The Dirty Little Secret Rug Manufacturers Don’t Want You to Know – Sedona AZ
Ruthie here with Arizona Oriental & Specialty Rug Care in Prescott AZ and boy is it frustrating when folks, who have worked so hard for their money, have chosen an area rug and paid a handsome price for it only to find out much later that what they thought they had purchased isn’t really what they bought. Rugs can cost thousands of dollars, so BUYER BEWARE because manufacturers have fancy ways of disguising the fact that they’ve used an inferior fiber in the making of some rugs.
The label on the back of the rug can be very confusing for the consumer. Rather than call something Faux Silk, many manufacturers use the term Art Silk, which sounds much better. Until you realize that Art in this case stands for artificial. This is a man-made fiber of rayon, better known as viscose. It looks great when it’s brand new and does its job of mimicking silk well. However, this is a low performance fiber and, in fact, is at the bottom of the pile. This weak fiber will break down fast from foot traffic and soil. Due to these unfortunate characteristics, cleaning success is usually limited. Yes, we can certainly get the rug clean, but the fibers will continue to look bad. We call this “uglying out” in our industry.
Manufacturers also use the trick of using a low-end silk and blending it with rayon (viscose) and sticking “made with silk” on the label. There are two types of silk. The silk that makes beautiful, sturdy, fine area rugs comes from cultivated silk worms. These worms are fed a diet that is exactly what they need to produce fine silk in one long, continuous silk thread inside the cocoon. The cocoon then gets boiled and the continuous silk thread is harvested for use in making very fine and delicate silk threads. Rug weavers are then able to create masterpieces with fine silk knots, allowing for a very dense rug with intricate designs.
The other kind of silk is called “wild silk.” This comes from silk worms that are wild (not in a controlled environment) and the worm must eat its way through the cocoon to exit it, thus drilling a hole through the cocoon and breaking the long silk threads in the process.
Manufacturers use this broken silk because it is much cheaper to purchase. This very weak fiber is then combined with another weak fiber, rayon (viscose), to create a weak replica of the higher quality silk. This is the rug-world version of taking a low quality automobile and sticking a few Mercedes emblems and maybe a Mercedes mirror on it so you can say it’s made by Mercedes. All the important parts are still low quality! Despite the fact that this silk is grossly inferior to the finer silk, this process allows the manufacturer to label the rug as silk. (Boo!!!)
Don’t just judge an area rug by its label and do your homework instead. Take a look at the back of the rug and determine if there is a high density of tiny knots in each square inch. Super fine silk area rugs can have as many as 600 knots per square inch and it’s strong. This allows the weaver to include a lot of detail in their designs. Tiny flowers, leaves, animal figures, etc. The intricacy and fineness of silk requires many hours of labor to create even a small 3 x 5 silk rug, hence the price that weavers demand.
It’s not that you should never buy a rug with viscose or wild silk in it – just keep in mind that you shouldn’t pay an extreme amount of money for these fibers. Think of these rugs as disposable. Be aware that the life expectancy for these rugs will range from a couple of years to perhaps 10 years rather than many decades. Quality silk rugs, on the other hand, can be handed down through many generations if properly maintained.
Now that you know what to look for, enjoy your rug shopping with YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN!
Till next time, enjoy your beautiful art for your floor and remember a clean rug is a rug that can last you a lifetime!
Arizona Oriental & Specialty Rug Care serves Sedona, Prescott, Prescott Valley, and much of the Northern Arizona areas. We meet the highest standards in professional cleaning of area rugs with rug wash specialists having earned the highest training, including certification as WOOLSAFE FIBRE CARE SPECIALISTS through the WOOLSAFE ORGANISATION. Such extraordinary certification ensures the area rugs of our client’s receive the utmost in care.
Call us for more information on silk vs. faux silk in Prescott AZ 928-445-1718, visit our website at www.ArizonaOriental.com, or stop by Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at our rug washing facility at 565 EZ Street, Prescott, AZ 86301 (pick-up and delivery also available). (03-07-17)