How to Clean Kilims

Melissa Lewis

Kilim rugs are handmade rugs, most famously from Turkey, but they are made in other areas of the world. Some oriental rugs are mislabeled as kilims; kilims rugs are interwoven in such a way that there is no pile. In fact, there is a clear design on both sides that can be faced up.

Clean Kilims

Washing a kilim is necessary only every few years. You may wish to take the rug to a qualified kilim cleaner, or, practice the laundering method common among Turks.

  1. Use a hand broom to brush your kilim. You may also use an electric sweeper or vacuum, but use the low setting and not the revolving brush. Avoid vacuuming the fringe. Flip the rug over and do the same thing to the underside. Clean the floor underneath as well.

  2. Dissolve pure grated olive oil soap in cold water. Use the edge of your hand to apply the olive oil to the rug lengthwise. Use short gentle stokes, pushing the dirt from one end of the rug to the other.

  3. Use a bristle brush (e.g. wooden handle with strong bristles) and dip it into the soapy water. Then apply gentle short strokes to work your way from the top of the rug to the bottom. Again, you are trying to move the dirt from one end to the other. Overlap your strokes.

  4. Rub a pot lid with a rounded lip in circular motions from the top of the rug to the bottom.

  5. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 several times on both sides of the rug. Then, rinse your rug several times with clean water.

  6. Lay the kilim flat to dry, preferably on an incline in the sun. It may take up to two days to thoroughly dry. Flip the kilim several times a day to dry it thoroughly.