What are Rug Fringes?

Rug fringes make up the end of the length of an oriental or area rug. They are often made from a thin white cotton and extend the length by a few centimetres at each end. At the rug end of the fringe they are knotted and contain a tight twist to an open end. This type of construction and fibre content combine to make rug fringes susceptible to damage and wear. Indeed, both of these characteristics make rug fringes particularly difficult to clean and maintain.

Common Problems

There are three main problems that can occur with rug fringes and the first of these is wear. By simply walking on the rug, or vacuuming the fringes causes them to untwist and begin to fray. This texture loss of the fringe occurs through normal use and is difficult to avoid.

The second problem that can occur is dye bleeding from the rug into the fringes. This is where a mobile dye on the face fibre of the rug transfers into the white cotton fringes and discolours them. This can occur with poor cleaning technique and can often be rectified by using bleaching agents. However, it is much better to avoid dye bleeding by using a trained professional.

The final problem that occurs with rug fringes is browning. This effect is a direct result of the fibre type as cotton is a cellulosic fibre. Essentially, over time or with poor cleaning techniques a brown compound (lignin) can be extruded from the cotton fibre to discolour its appearance. Browning is accelerated by the use of highly alkaline cleaning agents and slow drying. However, this can be rectified using chemical treatments or avoided by using appropriate cleaning methods.

Cleaning Rug Fringes

Cellulosic browning and dye bleeding can be avoided by using the right cleaning techniques. Browning and dye bleeding occur while the fringe is wet and one solution is to rapidly dry the fringes after cleaning. This can be done with blowers, or in extreme cases a hairdryer. In addition to rapid drying, a low moisture cleaning technique such as a dry foam shampoo can be used to minimise drying times.

Fringe Cleaning Chemicals

In order to minimise the risk of browning during the cleaning process, acidic cleaning agents are preferred while cleaning rug fringes. An alternative approach is to use mild alkalis, followed by an acidic rinse to ensure the pH of the rug fringe is below 7 during drying.

Corrective Treatments

Removing traces of dye bleeding or browning requires the use of bleaching agents. This will whiten the rug fringe, but can also cause fibre damage and accelerated wear. In this regard, bleaching should be treated as the last resort to resolving problems with rug fringes. Bleaching can be achieved by carefully employing an acidic solution of an oxidising bleach (such as hydrogen peroxide or a peroxycarbonate) to the fringe. This should be followed by rapid drying of the fibre to correct browning and minor dye bleeding.


Rug fringes can suffer from several problems during cleaning, but by employing the right chemicals and technique these can be avoided or corrected. We recommend you choose a trained professional to clean your oriental or area rug to ensure the cleanest rug fringes without fibre loss or damage.

Written by:
Access Cleaning Solutions – Rug Cleaning Specialists Glasgow.