Rug fringe; you either absolutely adore it or totally hate it. Some rugs have shorter fringes that cause not much of a bother while others have LOOONG fringes, driving their owners completely nuts. Not to mention the older rugs that have a short, worn off fringe that can drive you crazy. Many rug owners decide to take the matter into their hands and try to solve the problem with a pair of scissors at hand. Want a professional opinion? Just hide those scissors for now, cause you will find yourself very frustrated when you realize the costly error on your way.
Yes, a fringe is the part of the rug that gets the dirtiest, and it requires a tremendous amount of labor to get it cleaned. Even rug cleaners that want to deliver a perfectly white fringe to make their clients happy find fringe cleaning a challenge, sometimes. So, what can you do when your rug’s fringe gets filthy? Here are some pointers to take into consideration.
Hand-Woven or Machine Woven?
Before we start, just want you to know that the fringe tassels on hand-woven rugs are the strands of silk or wool around which pile knots are twisted and tied. This means that each strand is part of the rug’s skeleton. In this case, if the fringe gets dirty or damaged, things are complicated and cleaning is not an easy task. Therefore, it should be handled by a professional rug cleaner to ensure the best possible results.
A machine-woven rug, on the other hand, is much easier to clean, because the fringe is usually either glued on or sewed after the creation of the rug. They don’t comprise its foundation so you can just tear off the old, damaged or filthy fringe and add on some new one.
No matter the case, if your fringe has been chewed off by the dog, torn by the vacuum cleaner, or worn off from heavy foot traffic, you do need to take PROPER care of it right away.
What are your realistic expectations from having a filthy fringe?
The dirtiest the rug, the duller it looks, and once the fringe gets dirty, the entire rug starts to look dingy. The majority of rugs are woven on cotton foundations. Now, wool is unquestionably the best fiber to hide dirt, due to the layers of cuticles its fibers have that hide grit and dust amazingly well. But, cotton allows soil to get embedded into the strands because it simply has no place to hide dirt.
How to Clean Cotton Fringe Tassels
It is a task much like cleaning shoelaces. You see, you can just spray on a fringe cleaning solution, let it sit for a while, and then remove or wash it off, and expect the soil to magically disappear. It takes A LOT of scrubbing to get it cleaned.
In general, here are the steps to take to clean your rug’s fringe:
1. Protect the floor around the fringe to be cleaned, by placing a plastic tarp underneath the rug. That way, you won’t spread filth to nearby surfaces.
2. Brush the fringe with a soft bristle brush to remove loose debris, dust, and dirt.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of ammonia to a cup of warm water and sip a sponge into the solution.
4. Wring the sponge out well and wipe down the fringe with it. Make sure you dampen every piece.
5. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of warm water.
6. Dip a clean cloth or sponge in the solution and rinse the fringe.
7. Air dry the fringe. You could also help it dry quicker if you place a fan close to the fringe.
Things to Note
Usually, fringe has little-to-no impact on the rug’s value, because it is, in most cases, a byproduct of the weaving process. However, if the tassels wear off, get torn, or untie, you may see the rug’s knots unraveling and pulling away. This has a huge impact on your rug’s value.
If you have bought a rug with super white fringe, then you should know that your fringe was heavily bleached before it went for sale to market. A strong whitening process like that comes at a cost, although it does make the fringe look awesome at that time.
Why don’t we want fringes that have been super bleached? Because oxidizers and bleaches used to whiten fringe weaken the fringe, since they create chemical damage to the cotton fibers. Depending on the strength of the solution and the overall condition of the rug (i.e. whether there is already another damage that deteriorates over time), the damage caused could be slight or more severe. Take into account that it is impossible to scrub-clean fringe without breaking more tassels, if the damage is severe.
How to know if your rug has undergone chemical use?
Tug a strand. If the fringes break off easily, then you know for sure your rug has been strongly bleached. Now, if you reach the point where the tassels tear away even with your gentlest tug, then, unfortunately, you have reached a point of no return. Damage is irreversible, and your fringe is surely deteriorating. You can also identify a chemically damaged or very worn and old fringe if you walk on the rug and the tassels tear away.
What to Do if your Cotton Fringe is Severely Damaged?