Kilims are produced by tightly interweaving the warp and weft strands of the weave to produce a flat surface with no pile. Kilim weaves are tapestry weaves, technically weft-faced plain weaves, that is, the horizontal weft strands are pulled tightly downward so that they hide the vertical warp strands.
When the end of a color boundary is reached, the weft yarn is wound back from the boundary point. Thus, if the boundary of a field is a straight vertical line, a vertical slit forms between the two different color areas where they meet. For this reason, most kilims can be classed as "slit woven" textiles. The slits are beloved by collectors, as they produce very sharp-etched designs, emphasizing the geometry of the weave. Weaving strategies for avoiding slit formation, such as interlocking, produce a more blurred design image.
The weft strands, which carry the visible design and color, are almost always wool, whereas the hidden warp strands can be either wool or cotton. The warp strands are only visible at the ends, where they emerge as the fringe. This fringe is usually tied in bunches, to ensure against loosening or unraveling of the weave.
Reasons why these are popular these days...
Materials and Texture
The fibers used in a Kilim carpets consist of wool and cotton; normally it's whatever is available locally. The weavers require a loom and a beating comb to make these exquisite pieces. Sometimes beads and silk threads were inserted to make the rugs more decorative and glamorous.
These rugs were made by tightly cross weaving between the warp of the loom with wefts on a plain surface. They are tightly pulled down to produce a single color effect unlike pile rugs. Every 16 threads of weft have 14 threads of warp per inch, so the intertwining of their threads had an 8:7 ratio. This is why the technique is also known as the flat weave-- the pulling and intertwining of the threads cause their mats to be thin and light. The finishing of these rugs is smooth yet tough, making every Kilim durable.
Colors and Designs
The patterns used in Kilim rugs have straightforward designs. Each design in the rugs symbolizes certain beliefs of their makers. The weavers put their own thoughts into these rugs. Experts have found the relevance of the patterns with histories and prophecies made in the time of the Kilim's construction. Symbols were used in order to suffice to one kind of meaning which the makers felt relevant for their family. Some examples include a protection from evil or good luck charms.
Because of the simplicity of their weaving technique, all the patterns formed are geometric and among them are the artworks of such symbols.
The vintage Turkish Kilims can be found in room formats ranging from 5 x 8 feet along with few runners ranging in the 2 x 7 feet range.
Newer Kilims can be found in a wide range of sizes. They are available as tapestries, runners, and room carpets too; however, the designs on the new Kilims are more concentrated on the markets demand rather than the traditional ones.
These Kilim rugs are now made widely all around Turkey, India, Iran and other Oriental countries. Each region holds their own unique approach toward crafting a Kilim. In turn, their uses are far beyond just a carpet. They can be seen in divans, couch covers, simple wall hanging decors with some framed and tied off to provide a rustic look. Because these Kilims are on the cheaper side of the market, they are the first ones antique rug collectors have their eyes on. Furthermore, the Kilim are very well regarded as prayer mats in the Muslim areas. Kilim rugs are a fantastic investment due to their multitude of uses.
Kilim rugs are a pileless style that use flat-weaving techniques for a bold, often colorful design. They make a particularly striking floor covering, but caring for them requires special treatment to avoid damaging the fibers. A kilim rug must be cleaned by hand with a brush and gentle cleaning solution, and vacuumed with care to avoid tearing it. Stains must be treated quickly, though stubborn marks should only be treated for professional cleaners.
Hand Cleaning Kilim Rugs
- Sweep both sides of the rug to remove loose debris. Before cleaning the rug, you want to make sure that there isn’t any dirt or dust on its surface. Run a broom over the entire surface of the rug, and then flip it over to brush the other side as well.
The carpet should be on a flat surface to make the cleaning process easier.
You can use any broom to clean the rug, but a hand broom, which is essentially a handheld brush with bristles that are long like a traditional broom, offers the most control.
- Mix carpet shampoo with warm water and vinegar. To create a gentle cleaning solution for the kilim rug, combine ½ cup (118 ml) of carpet shampoo designed for hand cleaning rugs, 4 ½ cups (1.1 l) of warm water, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar. Stir well to ensure that the ingredients are well blended.
The vinegar will help keep the colors in the rug from running.
- Dip a brush in the solution and apply it gently in vertical strokes. Use a scrub brush with fairly strong bristles, and wet it so it’s saturated but not dripping. Stroke the brush over the rug in gentle vertical strokes, starting in one corner and brushing up and down in an overlapping motion. Continue brushing in the same manner until you’ve cleaned the entire rug.
Don’t scrub the rug too vigorously with the brush. Its fibers are more fragile when they’re wet so you may damage the rug if you’re too rough.
When you reach the fringe, work the brush over them vertically. It's not necessary to go over them a second time horizontally, though.
Re-wet the brush whenever it seems to be getting dry.
- Go over the rug a second time with horizontal strokes. After you’ve brushed the entire rug vertically with the cleaning solution, rub the brush over it left to right. Start in one corner of the corner, and continue brushing until you’ve cleaned the entire rug.
- Repeat the process on the other side of the rug. When you’ve brushed the rug with the cleaning solution in both directions, turn it over to the other side. Clean the second side in exactly the same manner, so the rug is fully cleaned.
If the rug is particularly dirty, you may want to repeat the cleaning process on both sides two or three times.
- Rinse the rug with clean water. Remove all of the cleaning solution and dirt from your bristle brush by running it thoroughly under water. When you’re sure there’s no cleaning solution residue left behind, wet the brush with warm water and brush over the rug vertically and then horizontally to rinse it.
You may want to rinse the rug more than once with a clean, wet brush to ensure that there’s no residue left behind on the fibers.
- Leave the rug flat to dry. If possible, lay it out flat on an inclined surface. You can set it out in the sun or leave it out under a fan to help the process along. Keep in mind that it may take up to two days for the rug to dry.
Flip the rug over every six hours or so to ensure that it dries on both sides.
Don’t walk on the rug or place any items on it until it’s completely dry.
If you notice any residue from the cleaning solution once the rug is dry, use a clean, dry brush to brush it away.
Vacuuming Kilim Rugs
- Vacuum the rug weekly. You won't have to scrub your kilim rug too often if you keep it free of dirt and dust. Running a vacuum over it once a week is usually sufficient, though you may want to vacuum more if the rug is in a heavily trafficked area.
- Use low suction. You can use a vacuum cleaner to keep your kilim rug clean, but you shouldn’t use a high suction setting or the revolving brush on your vacuum. Both can snag the fibers and cause damage.
If your vacuum doesn't have a low suction setting, use the extension hose or crevice tool attachment to go over the fringe.
- Vacuum both sides of the rug. Because a kilim rug is hand-knotted, it doesn’t have the backing that other rugs often have. To keep it clean, make sure to run the vacuum over both sides to remove all of the dirt and debris.
- Avoid vacuuming the fringe. The fringe definitely adds to a kilim rug’s charm, so you want to keep it intact. Don’t run your vacuum over the fringe because it may snag the fibers and unravel or tear them off.
- Remove any solids in the spill. If the food or other item that you’ve spilled contains any solid pieces, use a spoon to carefully scoop them up. Avoid using too much pressure to remove them or you may wind up pressing the items into the fibers and making the stain worse.
- Blot away as much of the liquid as possible. Use a clean sponge or piece of paper towel to carefully press against the stain and remove the excess moisture. Start blotting at the outer edge of the spill and work in toward the center so you don’t spread the stain.
Be sure to lift the rug and blot the floor underneath the spill as well.
- Lift the rug and place a shallow container under the stain. Because you’ll be rinsing the rug, you need a container to catch the water. A baking sheet or shallow Tupperware container works well.
- Pass clean water through the stained area. Fill a small glass, mug, or bowl with clean, warm water. Pour it over the area with the spill so it rinses the rug and passes into the container below.
The amount of water that you'll need depends on the size of the spill. Start with ½ cup (118 ml) and add more if necessary to full rinse the area.
- Blot the rug again. After you’ve rinsed the rug, remove the container. Place the rug flat on the ground again, and use a clean sponge or piece of paper towel to blot the area with the spill once more.
If there is a stain left behind even after you rinse and blot the stain, you should consult a professional rug cleaner to handle the job. Trying to remove it yourself may damage the rug.
Handling Pet Stains
- Cover the urine-stained area with baking soda. Pet urine can be difficult to remove if it has already dried. However, if the rug is still damp, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the affected area.
For dried pet stains, consult a professional rug cleaner.
- Set a clean cloth over the stain and press down. Choose a white towel or rag to avoid discoloring the rug. Once the cloth is in place, apply heavy pressure to the area for 2 to 3 minutes to drive the urine into the baking soda. Stepping on the cloth is usually the best way to press on it.
- Remove the baking soda and repeat the process as necessary. Use a spatula to carefully lift the baking soda off the rug, and discard it. If the rug is still damp, repeat the process.
- Place a container beneath the stained area. Lift the rug up and set a shallow container, such as baking pan or Tupperware container, beneath the affected spot. Lay the rug back down over the container.
- Rinse the stained area with water and let it dry. Fill a glass or mug with about ½ to 1 cup (118 to 237 ml) with water. Pour it over the affected spot on the rug to rinse away any remaining urine. The container beneath will catch the water so you can discard it. Allow the rug to dry for 12 to 24 hours without walking or placing any items on it.