The biggest dangers for rugs placed in storage are BUGS, FLOODS, and THUGS. Insect damage, flood or mildew damage, and theft are the most common problems we hear from clients who have placed rugs in a local storage unit or placed in a far corner of a closet or garage. Many times rugs with high appraised or sentimental value are placed in storage to save them for family members, or to save them from a remodel mess, or to protect them from the summer sunlight. You want to make sure you are not actually causing damage by incorporating the wrong storage procedures.
• DO clean rugs before wrapping for storage. The first, most important piece of storage advice is to always store rugs clean. Never wrap up dirty rugs. Have them washed properly and then prepared for storage, otherwise there’s a chance you’ll wrap hungry little rug-snacking critters in with your rug in a nice, protected environment, and in a year or more, when you open it up again, you could be in for an ugly, expensive surprise.You must clean your rugs of food and liquid material because though moths are normally the storage “bad guys” – ANY insect will eat sugars and other food materials, and they will eat the wool fibers that are holding this meal for them too.
• DO roll your rugs starting at the bottom end to the top end, fuzzy side inside. To find the bottom end of your rug, you want to “pet” your rug to determine when you are going WITH the nap, and AGAINST the nap. When you run your hand WITH the grain, it will take you to the tassels of the bottom of the rug (where the weaver began weaving your rug). Roll from this end. Folding rugs causes cracking over time, so do not fold rugs being put in storage.
• DO roll your SILK rugs with the fuzzy side outside. Wool and cotton rugs have more “give” to them than silk rugs, so when placing silk rugs into storage, roll them with their fuzzy silk side outside.
• DO wrap your rugs in TYVEK or brown acid-free PAPER. Wool has a moisture content even when it is dry, so changes in heat will cause it to “sweat.” Because of this you can NEVER wrap wool rugs in plastic or you will create a mildew problem. Tyvek Paper is best (tear and water resistant).
• DO elevate your rug packages off of the ground. Many storage facilities are built in lowlands that have a tendency to flood during bad weather, so whether in your home or their location you always want to keep rugs at least six inches off the ground in case flooding occurs.
• DO make certain nothing heavy is stacked on top of your rugs. Heavy items can cause damage to the rug’s foundation.
• DO acquire insurance to protect your rugs when placed in a storage facility. You also want a photograph and appraisal on file in case you need them.
For those of you who like to switch your rugs out to create a fresh look in your décor, or to save them from too much wear, take care to properly store your rugs according to theTextile Museum in Washington, D.C.
The best location for the storage of your collection would be in a room that is cool, dry and where blinds or curtains block natural light. Few of us have the luxury of having a spare room that we can devote to storage, and have to make do with closets, cupboards and under beds.While it is possible to adapt many spaces in the house for storage, avoid using attics and basements, which are usually without climate control and suffer the largest swings in temperature and relative humidity.
Most moth and carpet beetle infestations appear in rugs that were improperly stored. Sometimes infestations will start while the rug is in use, and then quickly accelerates when the piece is stored. It is, therefore, important to have a good housekeeping plan for your storage areas. Every couple months unroll at least one rug to make sure that there is no evidence of infestation. Choose a different rug each month. Wipe off shelving and shelf padding, and if necessary clean or replace dustcovers and padding. Vacuum the room thoroughly to eliminate insect-attracting dust. Remove dust from all baseboards and windowsills as well.
Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)
Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)