Care Guides: How to Look After a Berber Rug
Berber rugs have become pretty popular in recent years, from monochromatic Beni Ourain designs to dazzling wedding rugs from the Atlas Mountains, these coveted rugs are favoured by interior designers and enthusiasts alike. Yet, taking care of these hand-woven rugs can be tricky. Like most things, prevention is better than cure and while you can’t totally protect your Berber from daily footsteps, playful pups, and messy children, there are steps you can take to keep yours looking fresh for years to come.
Below we take a look at what Moroccan Berber rugs are made from, and how to maintain their appeal and restore them should the worst happen.
What is a Berber rug?
Originating in Northern Africa, Berber is the broad term given to the rugs and carpets crafted by the tribes of Morocco. Hand-crafted by artisans, Berber rugs were traditionally made to keep the inside of homes warm, used in the trade of goods, or given as wedding gifts to a newlywed couple.
What are Berber rugs made from?
Traditional Berber rugs are hand-woven from sheep’s wool. The pile and thickness of the rugs vary from region to region, with high-mountain tribes producing thicker carpets to keep warm in high altitudes. To create the bold, characterful patterns that they’re famed for, saffron and poppy flowers are used to create dyes to stain the wool before it’s woven.
Today, a range of materials are used to make Berber rugs. Wool is still the predominant fabric, but cotton, nylon, olefin, and poly-blends are becoming more common.
Why is it important to maintain your Berber rug?
Keep your Moroccan rug looking good between cleanings by giving it a weekly beating. This will remove any dust and debris, making sure you don’t get any horrid build-up in the pile. If possible, vacuum it on a regular basis. This is easier with flatter pile rugs or with the correct vacuum attachment for thicker piles.
How to clean a Moroccan rug
Can you wash a Moroccan rug?
In general, washing a Moroccan rug at home isn’t advised. However, if you are tempted to give your Berber a rinse down, you can do so with a hose in the back garden.
First, beat any excess dust, dirt, or debris out of your rug, then vacuum it to ensure it’s dust free. Next, hang your rug on a washing line or over something sturdy to keep it in place. Rinse it through with cold water once, ensuring excess water can run off easily. Then, use an appropriate cleaning product and massage it gently into the rug. Then rinse the rug until you’ve removed all traces of the cleaning solution.
Which products should you use to clean a Berber rug?
If you’re planning to wash your Berber rug at home, it’s important to get the right cleaner. Make sure the shampoo you use is non-corrosive and, if possible, derived from natural ingredients.
Don’t use biological cleaning products, as the enzymes in these can damage natural fibres. Pure wool rugs need to be cleaned using wool shampoo, while nylons and poly-blends should be treated with an alternative cleaning solution.
Do Berber rugs need specialist cleaning?
Ideally, we’d recommend getting your rug cleaned by a specialist. This ensures that it will get the most suitable cleaning and reduces the risk of damaging your rug when cleaning at home. Your nearest dry cleaner might do rug cleaning, or at least know someone who does.
How to revive your Berber rug
How do you keep a Berber rug fluffy?
A thick, fluffy pile is part of a Berber rug’s appeal. Yet, with daily wear, it can become flattened and less inviting. A weekly beating not only gets rid of crumbs and dust, but it can help to keep your rug fluffy too.
Once you’ve beaten the dust out, give your rug a good shake to fluff up its pile. Then, lift and drop your rug to the floor a couple of times—much like you would a feather cushion—to get some air and volume between the fibres.
Can you restore a Berber rug?
Yes, it is possible to restore your Berber if it starts to fade in patches or lose threads. If you notice single threads pulling out in places, you could attempt to match the wool yourself and hand-knot a piece of wool into it.
For larger patches of wear, especially where multiple threads have come away, you might need to look into having your rug professionally restored. While this might cost a bit more, your restoration specialist will be able to assess your whole rug and make any preventative repairs at the same time.
What about removing stains from a Moroccan rug?
Some stains are unfortunately not easy, or possible, to remove. Liquids such as coffee and red wine may permanently damage your rug and would need restoration to remove them.
However, other stains can be easier to get rid of. Blot any excess liquid up as soon as the spill happens and remove any debris from the area. If your rug is pure wool, a simple steam clean could resolve the issue. For nylon and poly-blend fabrics, a dusting of baking soda left for an hour (at least) and then blotted with white vinegar might be more suitable.
Where to find high-quality Berber rugs?
The best way to ensure your Berber rug stays in top condition is to buy a high-quality original piece. Our sellers at Vinterior source Berber rugs direct from artisans and dealers in Morocco. So, whether it’s a flat woven Kilim you’re after or a fluffy and colourful Azilal rug, find a characterful original in our Moroccan Berber rug collection.
Do you have any first-hand Berber rug care tips? Or do you need some advice on how to fix something we haven’t covered here? Reach out to us in the comments below or ask our community of vintage aficionados for help.