There is nothing quite like the feel of a wool rug underfoot but they are not quite as easy to care for as some of the synthetic fibres that are found in rugs. Wool rugs are normally quite densely woven and give a fabulous look when new, especially if you choose one in one of the really deep vibrant colours that the natural wool takes up so well. The problem comes when the pile starts to get a bit flat or – disaster! – something is spilled on the rug. If you have a large rug at least you may be able to turn it round to hide the stain, but if it is plumb in the middle, you may be landed with a bit of a problem.
Don’t rub and scrub
Part of the reason why a wool rug feels so lovely underfoot is that the fibres are still coated with the lanolin from the sheep. This does help them shrug off stains to an extent but it also means that if you over-wet or scrub at your wool rug you will break down the natural coating and the lie of the fibres, which will never look right again. You must certainly never use bleach or one of the ‘oxy’ type cleaners, because it will disrupt the fibres to such an extent that the rug will be to all intents and purposes ruined. This may sound a bit on the hysterical side, but it really is true – you will have a patch that may well have a different colour, but it will definitely have a different texture, possibly standing proud of the general nap and being rough to the touch and prone to collect dirt.
Mist and blot – slowly does it
The first thing to do with a wet spill on a wool rug is to remove as much as possible. This means as many paper or terry towels as it takes, blotting gently from the outside in, so as not to spread the stain. When this is done, mist either plain warm water or water with the tiniest spot of washing up liquid (not one of the enzyme ones, see above!) from a spray bottle. Between each misting, blot. Yes, again – your wool rug will not have been cheap, even if you have been lucky enough to find somewhere with low price rugs for sale, so it is worth being patient. Keep on misting and blotting until no more of the stain is lifting. With luck, you will have removed the stain so that none remains. If not, you may need to call in the experts. On no account soak your wool rug – it will never be the same again.
Old wives’ tales dos and don’ts
There are all manner of old wives’ methods for stains and spills and some make sense, some don’t. Obviously, if you spill a whole bottle of wine on the wool rug, you need to get rid of the liquid, fast. Blotting is still the best answer, no matter what granny told you about salt or bicarbonate of soda. Don’t ever, ever squirt the soda siphon on it – when it comes to liquid on a wool carpet, don’t forget that less is certainly more!