Reasons for Rug Color Loss

Sun Fading, Dirty Rugs, and What to Do About It (2018)

Why is my rug faded?

10/06/2018 | Last Updated 2018 | This Blog Has Been Optimized for an International Audience in North American English

Overview of the Reasons for Rug Color Loss and What You Can Do About Them

There are many reasons that your rug loses its color – each of them is preventable, and each of them is fixable if you find an expert.

The main reasons that your rug is fading include:

  1. The wool or silk fibers are full of dirt, and it is dulling the colors.
  2. The textile had exposure to direct sunlight for an extended period.
  3. Urine or water damage destabilized the dyes in the fibers.

If you are just looking for how to deal with the problem of color cleaning than skip to the following sections:

  1. Professional Immersive Cleaning: What it Does and Why It Restore Color
  2. Professional Color Restoration and Dyeing Techniques for Oriental and Persian Rugs

Reasons for Rug Fading #1: Dirt Dulling the Colors in the Fibers

Traditional textiles are designed to hold a truly unbelievable amount of dirt. Wool is the most common fiber used in the creation of textiles and wool has unique properties that hide dirt and liquids. The threads are so successful at this task, in fact, that a large textile can hold more than 22 pounds (10 kg) of abrasive dirt before you can even see the earth showing through the threads.

Though the textile does not appear dirty, the dusty particles create a layer around the dyes in the textile. This layer dulls the color even though it does not look particularly dirty.

Pro Note: Beyond the appearance being tarnished or dulled, dulled colors can hint at major problems. The main problem I am alluding to is the existence of abrasive dirt in the fibers. Dry soil is sharp – that is why falling on the ground cuts your skin. The same thing happens to the fibers when your body weight presses against the knots and grinds them against the floor. As a result your textiles fibers can become torn and destroy the overall appearance of your textile. This can also damage your rugs ability to hold color.

If your rug is faded and it has not been in contact with water, excessive moisture, or sunlight, this is probably the issue. Learn about how to fix the problem here.

How to Prevent Your Rug From Losing Color from Abrasive Dirt Damage

The easiest way to prevent the dulling of colors from dirt is to regularly clean the textile if you simultaneously want to use the Persian or Oriental rug in a high traffic area and want to preserve it for generations. We recommend you clean your textile at least once a year to ensure that the textile is not damaged.

Another approach is to hang up the Oriental or Persian treasure as a wall piece. Using it as a tapestry is an excellent way of appreciating the art and time that went into the textile without losing color.

Reasons For Rug Color Loss #2: Sun Fading – What it is and How to Prevent it

The dyes used by traditional textile makers are usually organic dyes made from vegetables. These vegetable dyes have a very genuine feel, but they are often susceptible to breaking down under UV light waves (ordinary waves in sunlight). When the dyes break down, the color of the patterns weakens making it look lighter. The resulting problem is known as “sun fading,” and it is a common reason for rug color loss faced by Oriental rug and carpet owners.

One way to spot this is by looking at the underside of the textile. When you do, you should be able to see the original colors of the textile. If the other side is equally light than the rug color loss is probably due to accumulated dirt or water damage.

How To Prevent Sun Fading

The sun causes sun fading, so the first step is to keep the textile out of direct sunlight. Keep the textile out of rooms with large windows and make sure to rotate the textile during different seasons to prevent direct sunlight.

Another consideration is to prevent drying the rug outside. If you have mildew, mold, or dry rot than you should not dry the textile in the sun. For more information on how to dry out the fungi in the textile follow the above link.

Reason for Light Rug Colors #3: Pet Urine and Water Damage

The last reason for lightened rug dyes is from moisture. Moisture damage comes in two forms: pet urine and water damage.

If the textile has been submerged in water or otherwise exposed to moisture than the rugs dyes may be destabilized. If this happens then, the textile’s colors may start to transfer or bleed into the lighter areas. Follow this link to learn more about dye bleed and what to do about it.

A similar phenomenon happens when pet urine touches an Oriental or Persian rug. The liquid alone can cause rug color loss, but the heat from the urine also creates problems for the textiles. Heat opens up dye sites which can cause staining, running dyes, and other significant issues such as molding and rotting and can attract moths. These problems can often be worse than rug color loss.

How To Prevent Color Loss From Moisture

If you have a dog that has a habit of urinating in the home than you should consider using your textile as a tapestry. As discussed, urine causes many problems beyond just removing rug color. So beyond just fading concerns, you should avoid having a valuable rug around a pet that urinates.

The next tip is to keep the textile wrapped in plastic when you are not using it and keep it up high. This step helps to prevent the possibility of flood damage. When it is on the floor in your home make sure it is away from a kitchen or a bathroom. These are areas that you may leave a faucet on.

Lastly, do not keep the textile near areas that people eat or drink. Everyday spills can have a tremendous impact on a traditional rug.

How to Restore Rug Color Loss

If you are looking to restore rug color loss than there are two common ways depending on your problem. We will go over each of these in turn.

First Method for Restoring Rug Color Loss: Immersive Cleaning

Unlike other types of fibers, wool cannot be cleaned by pushing water through it. Wool fibers have scales that hide dirt and solids deep in the fibers. Over time the threads accumulate enough earth to cause a dulling effect on the threads. To get this soil out, you must completely submerge the textile in water with cleaning solutions that prevent dye bleed or transfer.

This is also helpful when dealing with water damage. We have the equipment to clean your fibers and extract moisture rapidly.

Second Method for Restoring Rug Color Loss: Rug Dyeing Color Restoration

The second and more method is by redying the textile. Dyeing is an expert service that is offered by only a few hundred businesses around the world, but it is trusted worldwide. The United States White House and Palaces throughout Dubai have restored textiles in this way.

How does rug color restoration work?

Dyeing is a simple concept – an expert adds dyes to the rug using a specialized airbrushing system or syringe. The colors are often chosen using state-of-the-art color matching software. This helps to restore rug color loss.

How Much Does it Cost?

Restoring rug color loss in this way is surprisingly affordable for some. If you have a priceless hand-knotted Oriental rug than you probably spent thousands on it. In this case, paying $500-$1000 (for most regular sized textiles coming into our shop) on the restoration is not a lot of money. On the other hand, if the textile was relatively cheap then this amount may seem expensive.

Final Thoughts About Rug Color Loss

We hope that this article helps to give you the tools that you need in order to restore rug color loss or prevent it in the future. Thank you for reading our article!