Storing a carpet or rug may seem as simple as folding or rolling it and putting it out of sight. But carpets and rugs can crease, crack, fade and lose their shape if stored incorrectly.
Carpets are prone to damage by water, mould and mildew, insects and direct sunlight. So, whether you’re storing a carpet or rug temporarily or permanently, clean, roll, wrap and store it correctly with these guidelines.
Step 1: clean it
It's important to clean any carpet or rug before you store it to remove mould and mildew, stains and residue, insects and food particles that may attract insects. These can all cause deterioration of the carpet or rug while in storage.
Always start the cleaning process by vacuuming or brushing the carpet or rug on both sides to remove loose dirt, hair, dust mites, pet dander and other debris.
Handmade antique and oriental carpets and rugs should be vacuumed through a nylon screen to prevent damage.
How you proceed after vacuuming will depend on the materials used to make the carpet or rug.
Synthetic carpets and rugs
In general, synthetic fibre rugs can be machine-washed or steam-cleaned. If the rug has a label, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
When machine-washing a woven or braided rug, place the rug in a mesh laundry bag, wash on a gentle cycle and tumble-dry on a low setting.
Large braided carpets and rugs that are not machine-washable can be cleaned with a sponge or cloth and carpet cleaning foam. Always do a spot test to make sure that the cleaning solution won't damage or discolour the carpet.
Natural carpets and rugs
Natural fibre carpets/rugs – such as those made from wool, hemp, coir and sisal – can be damaged by abrasive cleaning agents, hot water and steam. As a result, these should only be spot-cleaned with carpet shampoo foam and a cloth/sponge.
Use a cloth to blot the foam on the stain, and then use another cloth to blot the area dry. It's important to not use water on natural fibre carpets/rugs as they absorb and hold water, making them difficult to dry.
Fur, sheepskin and hair-on hide rugs should be cleaned without water. To do this, cover the rug with a layer of unscented talcum powder and leave it for a few hours. Then brush and shake out the powder, repeating the process if necessary.
Insects eat natural fibre textiles, so deter pests by placing lavender sachets or red cedar chips across the surface of the carpet/rug before rolling it.
Step 2: roll it
Before storing, you will need to roll your carpet/rug. Do not fold it, as this can lead to creasing and cause the foundation (backing) to crack.
Always ensure that the carpet/rug is completely dry before you roll it to prevent the growth of mould and mildew in damp areas.
In general, the pile of a carpet/rug is more fragile than the foundation, so most should be rolled with the pile facing inwards. However, if the foundation is weaker than the pile, or the lining has been sewn on, roll with the foundation facing inwards.
Roll in the direction of the pile to avoid damaging the pile or placing stress on the knots. To make rolling easier, place a sheet of cotton, muslin or brown craft paper under the carpet/rug.
Never wrap carpets and rugs in plastic, as this will keep them from breathing. Use a piece of fabric/craft paper that is the width of the carpet/rug, and long enough to wrap around the entire carpet/rug at least one-and-a-half times.
It’s best to roll a carpet around a support tube. Choose either an acid-free archival tube, or a cardboard tube covered with a layer of acid-free tissue and a top layer of muslin. Avoid using PVC pipe as they release chemicals that can damage the carpet/rug.
When you’ve finished rolling, wrap the excess fabric around the carpet/rug and secure with cotton or polyester twill tape. For added protection against damp and insects, wrap the rolled carpet/rug in a layer of (breathable) polyethylene film.
Step 3: store it
Preserve your carpets and rugs by storing them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated environment without exposure to natural light. The best place to store carpets/rugs is in a climate-controlled self-storage unit, as attics, garages and basements generally attract pests, and cupboards lack ventilation.
Storing your carpets and rugs in a climate-controlled unit will protect them from temperature and humidity extremes and fluctuations.
If you must store your carpets and rugs in an attic, basement or garage, block the windows to prevent direct sunlight from fading the colours, and consider using a fan or dehumidifier to prevent the growth of mould and mildew.
No matter where you choose to store your carpet, make sure that it's off the ground to protect it from dirt and water damage. Ideally, store carpets and rugs on a metal shelf that has been padded with bubble-wrap to prevent the edges from denting the carpet or rug.
Never store a carpet or large rug in an upright position or it may lose its shape. Additionally, don’t place anything on top of the carpet or rug when storing, as this may cause cracks in the foundation and destroy its shape.
It's best to unroll your carpet every month to air it and inspect for pest, water, sunlight and mould and mildew damage. If there are signs of damage, have it cleaned by a professional.
Carpet storage with XtraSpace
XtraSpace provides clean, affordable self-storage units that are ideal for storing carpets, rugs and other household furnishings.