The cleaning of Oriental and area rugs is a complicated and intricate process. A major concern during this process involved the rug fringes. Rug fringes are prone to some deterioration with normal use due to the fiber content of the fringes (usually cotton), their loose or low twist and their open ends. These characteristics make rug fringes susceptible to untwisting and texture loss during normal use – vacuuming, walking, etc.
There are additional reasons why fringes may require special treatments during or after cleaning. The first reason is cellulosic browning. Rug fringes are mostly made of cotton, a cellulosic fiber, which undergoes natural changes with time. These changes may lead to the development of a brown stain or discoloration called cellulosic browning. The second reason is the possible change in the color of the fringes during cleaning. This form of color change often occurs as fugitive dyes from the wet rug are being absorbed by the fringes.
There are other ways to clean or re-clean rug fringes. The first approach is re-cleaning the fringes by hand, with or without mild acid rinsing, and rapid drying with a blower. The second, a stronger treatment, involves bleaching, with or without rinsing, and rapid drying.
If browning or color bleeding is severe, it may not be eliminated by the first approach, the milder treatment. The second approach will result in white fringes but may also cause some physical deterioration of the fringes. This deterioration is generally manifested in their strength loss, fiber loss and/or ‘stringy’ texture.
Eventually all rug fringes will wear out from normal use and care. The appearance of your rug can be renewed by replacing or re-fringing the old, worn rug fringes. However, if the original fringe was originally part of the actual area rug, one characteristic of the area rug will have then been changed.