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Is Something Eating Your Oriental Rugs?

Is Something Eating Your Oriental Rugs?

May 2, 2023

You wouldn’t know it, but your antique and oriental rugs may be under attack. And the assailants are so tiny, you probably wouldn’t notice them until they’ve started causing major harm. Beautiful, hand-crafted oriental rugs can last a lifetime…when cared for and protected from pests. If there are creepy crawlies making a home in your rugs, here’s what (and who) to look for to prevent an infestation and permanent damage.

What is Eating Your Oriental Rugs?

Clothes moths
These tiny moths are not the ones you see in the evening, attracted to the lights on your back patio, although they look similar, these are seldom seen because they avoid light. These small little pests are beige or light brown, with narrow wings that look as if they have fringe on the ends. Unlike the adult carpet beetle, clothes moths and their larvae both eat materials that contain keratin. The damage they do will leave your oriental rug with a smattering of holes, and it can happen in just a matter of weeks. Because they prefer quiet, dark places, the best thing you can do is use your rugs – walking on them, vacuuming, moving your furniture around for a new vibe to your space, even touching the ones you have hung on walls. By disturbing the space regularly, you make them unappealing to these pests.

Clothes moth on rug

Clothes moth


Carpet beetles
Normally found outdoors feeding on pollen from garden plants and flowering trees with white flowers (think Viburnum or Crepe Myrtles), adult carpet beetles sometimes find their way into your home, and that’s where the problem starts. They will lay eggs in fibrous materials, the perfect food source for baby carpet beetle larvae. Carpet beetle larvae vary in color from brown to black with stripes and tiny bristles sticking out of their bodies. They look like fuzzy worms with stripes.

Carpet beetles first got their name back when most carpets were made of wool, but these guys are equal-opportunity keratin consumers. That means your fur, felt, feathers, leather and silk are all at risk. Carpet beetle larvae eat across the top and underside of rugs, leaving behind bald patches and fraying. If they find their way into your closets, they’re going to leave large clusters of holes in something like a coat, sweater or scarf. Carpet beetle larvae prefer dark spaces, so they’re more likely to be found feeding on the rugs, blankets and clothing you’ve stored away if hasn’t been packed properly.

Note: While carpet beetles and their larvae don’t bite…sometimes they can cause an allergic reaction from their hair. As the larvae mature, they shed their skin and hair, leaving it on the material they were feeding on. If you’re experiencing some skin irritation or rashes along with some damage to your belongings, don’t be alarmed, but it’s time to give us a call for your carpet beetle infestation.

Carpet beetle and larvae

Carpet beetle and larvae


Silverfish are one of the most common insects that destroy wool rugs and protein-rich textiles like animal hides and leather. We know the name says it, but they don’t look like fish, not really. They were given the name for their silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like movements. These tiny, wingless insects are big fans of both natural and manufactured fibers. Because they enjoy starch, sugar and dextrin (found in books, clothing and dead skin), they can feed and live off carpets and rugs that are not cleaned before being stored away. If you notice holes, yellow stains or the pesky bug itself, check your cabinets and pantries too, because they may be lurking in your cereal and other carbohydrates. They like dark, warm, moist spaces like attics and basements, so make sure you store rugs and other woolen garments in cooler spaces.




Preventing Oriental Rug Damage

Dirty rugs are more appetizing than clean rugs. This is a major reason we recommend professional oriental rug cleaning every year or so, depending on the amount of use. And that goes for the other fabrics in your room too. Routine vacuuming and professional carpet and upholstery cleaning will be sure to eliminate dirt, crumbs, sweat, dead skin and other keratin particles that attract these insects in the first place.

Also having your rugs cleaned, rolled and wrapped for storage properly will help protect them from the pesky insects who prefer dark, quiet spaces.

Oriental Rug Repairs

If something doesn’t look quite right, give Aladdin Cleaning and Restoration a call. Damage to oriental rugs is not always visible until it’s extensive, but our experts know exactly what to look for. Noticing some damage? Don’t give up on your oriental rug just yet! Our team of highly trained specialists can help determine if an oriental rug is salvageable and make those repairs. They make new warps and wefts to add wool and fill in the bare places, by matching the knot techniques, colors and textures. Contact us today to learn more.