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The High Cost of Cheap Rugs

Every now and then we will receive an inquiry about cleaning a cheap rug that was purchased from Home Depot,, Costco, etc. While we can absolutely clean these rugs, there is a common misconception that because they were inexpensive, that they should be a low cost to clean. It is quite the opposite.

Unfortunately, cheap rugs today are not built with quality in mind. In order to cut the cost to the consumer, they must cut corners to create the product. Many times these issues don’t appear until the rugs get dirty and you need to get the area rug cleaned. In the end, it appears to be the rug cleaners fault for these issues, but it is indeed how the manufacturer has produced these rugs.

In order to cut the cost to the consumer, they must cut corners to create the product.

Because we are familiar with these rugs, this is exactly why we must clean rugs in our shop. We don’t know what is underlying in these rugs until we start testing them. This takes several hours, if not, days to do. We need a controlled environment to make sure that nothing weird happens, because it will more than likely happen!

Common Issues

A common thing we see is “cartooning” which is when the manufacture or rug maker has used a red/blue pen to trace the underlying pattern, which will wick up to the surface when the rug gets damp/wet.

A common cheap material we see is viscose, which gets weak or falls apart when wet. Viscose is also labeled as “rayon”, “banana silk”, and “art silk” to name a few. Anything made of materials such as cotton, jute, or sisal are extremely difficult to remove stains because of “cellulosic browning” (browns when wet). The browning can occur with viscose because of the same reason.

Shag rugs are also inexpensive, yet difficult to clean because of its long fibers. Every single shaggy rug we have encountered will have a pile of loose change, bobby pins, and other miscellaneous items. One time we found several pieces of broken glass! Yikes! Because the fibers are so long, it is hard to reach and the dirt, soil and everything else gets hidden in the foundation. Shag/frieze rugs also tend to show wear patterns that are permanent because of the untwisting and fuzzing of the fibers that happens with walking on them.

Although tufted rugs are usually inexpensive and made of wool, the fibers are held together with latex glue. This means the glue will degrade over time (usually within a few years) or simply from pet accidents or washing. There are multiple ways to clean a rug with little/no moisture, however, the best way to decontaminate a rug is to flush it out with tons of water.

To Clean or Not to Clean?

So the question is: Is it better to replace the rug? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on how much you like the rug and if it has any meaning to you. We will always be up front and honest if a rug is better off replaced versus cleaned. But know that just because a rug was purchased cheap, it doesn’t mean that it will be easy and cheap to clean. Any rug you buy will require a professional cleaning.

One last thing, if you’ve purchased a cheap rug, we’re not knocking you! I personally own several cheap area rugs that I know won’t last me long, but it was within my budget. We just want to share with the world our experience with cheap rugs. More so, the cost to maintain them 😉

Scott Rendall
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