Most rugs are given a light chemical wash after being woven. Although each country has its own “special sauce” for this purpose, many use a low percentage chlorine bleach solution. They do the wash in order to help wash away impurities, rinse away excess dye and help soften the colors a bit by dissolving the outer wool cuticle layers.
Wool is a hair fiber, and this type of treatment is not unlike what is done when someone wants to add to their own hair some highlights, more sheen or even more dramatic color results — if they are so inclined.
Most wool treatments are considered fairly harmless to wool fibers. There are, however, some treatments that are more extreme in an effort to create a “wow” initial result with a rug, but with consequences that occur later in the rug’s life.
And sometimes those “consequences” pop up during the cleaning process by an unsuspecting rug cleaner.
Check back next week to learn about common chemical washing treatments, what they are, how to identify them and the dangers they may pose to rug cleaners.