OBSESSION WITH MOROCCAN CARPETS
A worldwide obsession for Moroccan carpets is evident, and so is Linda’s passion for the subject. Carpets are present in our daily routines as visual inspiration, as for most of those who came to visit Morocco and bought one.
I remember my mum being smart and putting our Turkish carpets out on the balcony in the summer and making me wash them all. As a child and I liked playing with the water….perfect combination, right? It was so fun, not dangerous, a good lesson and physical activity…and I always knew how to clean carpets!
So, yes. I’m telling you – tongue in cheek – to surround yourself with young water enthusiasts in the summer and get it done fast!
So, you fell in love with Moroccan carpets during your trip crossing the Atlas mountains, and you’re taking one home. This post will be useful even though you know you’ll take your carpet to a professional carpet cleaner. In fact, you might want to warn your trusted cleaner about the origin of your Moroccan carpet.
The composition and the natural colour dyeing process will help them understand which products to use and how to treat them.
Natural colours fade much faster than synthetic ones, and that’s what you find in Morocco, natural colours, and natural fibres, mostly wool and cotton.
If doing it yourself is your main intention, you need to be realistic and consider a few things to tick off this list:
The kind of carpet / its weaving style / low-high pile
These are only the 3 main features to keep in your mind, according to who you are. Are you the person that is dedicating time and energy to these precious home decor items? Or do you just want to have something beautiful and colourful but that doesn’t require much attention?
Beware, because it’s like choosing between adopting a cat or a dog!
In fact, some these typologies really need to be looked after. Without going into too many details, let’s remember that the “furry” Moroccan carpets such as the Azilal, Beni Ourain, Marmoucha or Boujad are the ones that need a little extra care even when they are not being washed.
The knotted ones, such as the Kilim, Zanafi (from the desert) and the other most common, colourful and cheap Berber-symbols carpet have other features to think about but definitely fewer steps to be cleaned.
And then there are the unique Boucherouites, with their little fabric strips knotted together and alternated with woven bits…
Remember, the best way to keep Moroccan carpets clean is to not make them dirty : )
Just because we walk on them it doesn’t mean they’re worthless, is such an honour to have these work of arts in our homes. If you look at them in this way, you’ll do a lot of things automatically.
THE 4 GOLDEN RULES TO KEEP YOUR CARPETS CLEAN
1. A rubber floor mat under your carpet for a matter of comfort and also as the first protection from dents, if you’re going to put furniture on it.
2. If you do put furniture on your carpet, try to move it every one or two months,+even a few centimetres, just to prevent creating dents.
3. Rule number one in my house: take off your shoes. Besides the generic hygienic benefits, walking with your shoes around the house, and therefore on the carpets, might bring things in your house and stick them on your Moroccan carpets. You don’t want that right?
4. Get a good vacuum cleaner, and use it often, especially for those allergic to dust, we know how tapestry and carpets love to collect dust.
These 4 golden rules, will make the cleaning process of your carpet a much easier experience!
HIGH PILE CARPET CLEANING
These ones are those I labelled as “furry” earlier. Their soft look is what gives the cosy look to any part of your home, in any size, and the most popular ones are the big ones. Right, big means a bit more work, but so worth it. It will get heavy and you will need help to move it around a big terrace or balcony.
The first step for this kind of carpet is to brush it. I use a shampoo brush, the one that here in Morocco is used widely in the hammam. I love the way it fits in one hand and stays firm with the aid of that little ring-shaped holder.
Thanks to this brush you will be able to get rid of little things trapped in the wool of the carpet and prepare it for the wet brushing. Make sure you brush in the weaving direction, if you move the wool a bit, you will be able to see in which direction your carpet has been woven.
Now, lie it flat and make it wet with the water you prepared in a bucket. If the carpet is white, mix some vinegar to it and then pour on the carpet and give it some strokes. This will make it whiter.
Then you can prepare a new bucket of water with some soap, I use a delicate washing machine liquid soap. A very small amount.
Back to brushing which now becomes more accurate, but be careful to not stroke too strong, and once you have brushed with soapy water, start rinsing with clear water, and do the same brushing movement with your hand (no brush here!) only to get rid of the soap, repeating the process until you don’t see any more bubbles on your carpet.
Now you have a very heavy carpet on the floor. Start rolling it very tight to squeeze most of the water off of it and if it stays still, standing vertically on a wall, leave it like that for a few hours until water stopper dripping. You’re free then to unroll it somewhere like a ladder, on a table, on some chairs if you’re in a garden or patio or on a banister if you have a balcony or terrace. This will allow the carpet to dry properly, and if you can give it the last stroke before drying, you’re ready to call yourself a champion.
Beni Ourain Moroccan carpets from the Atlas mountains are obtained from live wool, which is sheared from a live sheep, and this is wonderful news!
KILIM AND FLAT WOVEN\KNOTTED CARPETS
Don’t worry, these ones are much more simple to clean.
You start directly with laying the carpet flat on the floor on the “wrong side”, making it soaking wet and then use a small dose of soap which you can start brushing on the carpet with a broom.
Turn and do the same on the other side…easy right? Make sure you don’t insist too much on older Moroccan carpets or certain areas, you might ruin the weft and make it look older than it is.
Then wash away the soap and roll up to dry vertically for a few hours, then open and hang wherever possible to dry.
BOUCHEROUITE CARPET CLEANING
Let’s say that if you’re consistent enough to give it a good beat every week or two depending on where you are using the rug, you are on the right track.
- Lay it flat on it’s “wrong” side, and make it wet while you’re walking on it barefoot.
- Give it a quick rub with the broom and a soap, then rinse and turn.
- Now the tricky part starts: you do not want to loosen the fabric strips that are knotted together. So…just walk on it! Walk on it while pouring some water with a very small amount of detergent and step on it!
The best way (and the most traditional, besides bringing it to wash at the river) would be to put it in a very big basin filled with water and step on it but sometimes is not easy to find such big basins.
Another nice way to rock a carpet in your home, with no hassle and very little maintenance, is to hang it on the wall as a statement decoration (like they did here in the lovely Riad Al Nour, with a Zanafi carpet which is also the pattern inspiration for the SO Morocco logo!)
I encourage you to look after to your carpets with love and devotion, it takes up to one month or more for the artisan that makes it complete. In every knot of every inch of those Moroccan carpets, older women share experiences to their younger generations, making that carpet a silent guardian of stories as intricate as their patterns.
Guest Blog courtesy of Burcin Yetim
Featured Image – Photo Credit to Peace Corps Folk Life Fest 2011