Care & Cleaning: Naturally Dyed Rugs

Master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa recommends that you turn your rug regularly and vacuum it often with a brushless appliance so that you avoid snagging the fibers and the fringes.  You can also shake the rug, holding it on the long side.

All spills should be blotted immediately with water and a soft cloth.   You can use a soft bristle toothbrush to get out any stubborn spots, but be sure to brush with the grain, not against it.

It is best to avoid direct sunlight for long periods of time.  Identify a professional rug cleaner, if necessary,  for special care and attention.  Store as you would any fine wool garment.

Your rug is made from fine wool shorn from Churro sheep raised in the Oaxaca highlands.  It is meant to last many lifetimes.

12 Responses to Care & Cleaning: Naturally Dyed Rugs

  1. I have a natural wool Oaxacan rug that I successfully cleaned with baby shampoo on a gentle, low setting (in cold water) washing machine which I think I didn’t even need to dry in a machine. I learned of this method through this website I believe.

  2. Can anyone help me with advice for getting soot stains out of my natural dye wool rug from Mexico?

    • Did you try using a soft toothbrush and a neutral soap and water? You want to brush with the grain of the wool. Do not scrub. Do not use bleach. It will weaken the fibers. For soap here in Mexico, we use Zote. Do not use Woolite. It will leech the color. Use a very mild baby shampoo, instead. Or Fels Naptha. Let us know if this works for you. -Norma and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC

  3. I was so happy to see that I could wash my beautiful Oaxacan area
    rug in cold water on gentle with gentle baby shampoo. It came out perfect and saved me from the anxiety of having a cleaning service
    clean it!

    Thanks for great advice,

  4. Best way to wash a very dirty but wonderful, totally natural wool Oaxacan rug, abt 5×9 ft? I gave it to my sonand daughter/law but they were unable to care for it with a busy schedule and 2 cats. Cat hairs and especially dirt from soles of dirty shoes.

    • Tough question because of the size. Too big to put into household washing machine on cold gentle cycle with baby shampoo which is what I would first recommend. So maybe the best option is to send it to a dry cleaner!

  5. Hi Norma,

    Thanks for the informative post. Do you have any recommendations for cleaning cat pee (and smell) from our naturally dyed Oaxacan rug? Spray white vinegar?

    Thanks for your insight.


    • I would use a mild baby shampoo and water solution first and a toothbrush. Brush in the direction of the weave. Don’t use Woolite, it will cause the color to run. You could try adding a little vinegar to the soapy water if the odor and stain doesn’t go away. So sorry this happened. That’s what animals do!

  6. We purchased a rug from Fidel Cruz in Oaxaca a few months ago and it has been folded up in the original packaging that it was placed in at the workshop. It has folds in it that we would like to remove. We think Maria mentioned ironing it but we are not remembering the details and are looking for help. Can you help us with this or can you give us Fidel and Maria Cruz e-mail address so we can contact them directly?
    Thank you,

    • Hi, Rich, glad to help. I would not “iron” it per se, but rather lay it flat and steam out the creases without putting the iron to the surface of the wool. Otherwise, you could run the risk of burning it. Another option is to take it to a drycleaner and ask them to professionally steam out the creases. I have all my rugs from Federico Chavez Sosa master weaver on the floor of my house and walk on them. Over time, any creases just naturally go away. If you are intending it for a wall hanging, then steaming the rug is the better option! Good luck. Norma

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