How to clean your kilim cushion covers

I’ve had many people in the shop ask me how to clean their kilim cushion covers and similarly how to spot clean their kilim if something should get spilt on it. So I thought I would dedicate this post to a simple step by step demonstration of how you can do this cleaning yourself at home. This is more of a light surface clean but it does generate life back into your cover and is good for spot cleaning.

So you will need: 1 bucket, 1 eye dropper, small white cloth and some baby shampooEquipment needed

STEP 1: Check for colour fastness! Probably the most important step so don’t skip it, particularly if you don’t want your beautiful kilim or cover to resemble a kids water painting. Most kilim cushions are made from old or antique kilims that have already been washed countless times but it still worth checking.

Checking for colour run If your cloth comes away clean, you are good to go! Reds and blues are the most likely colours to run.

Grab an eye dropper with HOT water, this will allow you to get a quicker reaction. A few drops of water and press firmly with a white cloth. Hold for while to see if any colour transfers. My cover is VERY old so I am pretty certain their will be no colour run. I also tested another cushion cover hoping it would cause colour transfer so I could show you but that one also didn’t run. The colours to watch out for most are deep reds and blues, these tend to run the most so be extra cautious when testing these.

At this stage also give the cushion a good beating! Get some of that dust out.

STEP: 2: Cleaning solution. I use baby shampoo for the cleaning solution. It’s cheap, its gentle, usually contains no chemicals so a winner all round. I have had people try wool wash as well with similar results. You don’t want to use anything too harsh as most covers (at least the good quality ones) will have been woven using hand spun wool which retains the natural lanolin extending the life of the kilim and acting as a natural scotchquard, so you don’t want to strip it of those qualities. So, some shampoo in a bucket, add COLD water and froth up the mixture as much as you can.

STEP 3: cleaning the cover. Collect some foam in your hand and wipe it across the cover, continue until your cleaned the whole cover. Don’t be worried if you are getting some water with the foam but do try not to get it sopping wet.

Wipe the cleaning foam over the cover         You may have to add more shampoo and remix to get more foam if needed

STEP 4: Spot cleaning/marks. For more stubborn marks that need some extra attention. Put a small dollop of shampoo in your hand mixing fast with couple of drops of water and make a concentrated foam mix and apply this to the mark.

Making a concentrate of the shampoo  For stuborn marks or stains

STEP 5: Drying. Cleaning done time to dry the cover (or kilim patch). A little trick I was told was the always dry them on grass in the sun (as the air can circulate from underneath as well). Also it saves your piece being pulled out of shape with (ie. with pegs)

If your garden is anything like mine at the moment, grass isn’t so readily available…so i used a bush 🙂

Set aside to dry in sunlight preferably where air can get underneath it

Once dried, you have a clean refreshed kilim cushion cover ready to look gorgeous again.

As new!!

At this point I should put a disclaimer. If you aren’t confident with any of the above processes, do not continue. If your piece is very valuable to you, either monetarily or otherwise, please do not clean it yourself but rather take it to a professional.

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5 Responses to How to clean your kilim cushion covers

  1. Lori says:

    Thanks for the help! I have a question: you don’t need to remove the baby shampoo foam after it has settled into the fabric? Thanks!

    • Hi Lori, I think you will find that you do not need to remove the foam afterwards. If you find the foam is too thick and leaving residue try this: Flick water over the cover or use a spray bottle, fold a towel over the cover and squash/roll/squeeze them together to soak up the excess water. Hope this helps 🙂 Let me know if you have any troubles.

  2. Lori says:

    all good! thank you.

  3. I washed my kilim in the wash machine with cold water at a local laundromat mat,with messed up strings nothing happened it is still fine you can not kill a kilim! If the colors come out then you got a bad deal I will return the kilim! These kilms last for ever if they are good quality,do not walk on them with shoes! Look at the signs and design they will tell you a story who made them and what the maker went through by making them…they never made the same pattern.

    • Even though this post is quite old, I thought I should point out a couple of things, Thank you firstly for taking the time to write 🙂
      1. For long term use, definitely do not put your hand woven kilim in the washing machine. You will strip the natural lanolin from the kilim which is a major factor in the longevity of the kilim.
      2. Colour runs – ideally they don’t happen but staying in water (like in a washing machine cycle) can produce runs. You can test yourself for colour runs. More common in Afghan pieces with the deep blue, red, brown colours.
      3. Personal choice shoes are not. Me – nope but as you said kilims are virtually indestructible, shoes are not a major concern.
      4. Couldn’t agree more! The history, the stories, the small parts you never noticed before make these gems true pieces of art that are made to be used and loved ‘to pieces’ 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to write.

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