Q.We have two 8-by-10-foot needlepoint rugs that are 20 years old and in need of repair work and cleaning. I did get one rug cleaned, and it shrank. I called another company that thought it could clean them but didn’t know how to do any repairs. On one of the rugs, the backing is separating from the needlepoint around the edges. I also have a neighbor with several needlepoint pillows made by her grandmother that she is hoping to clean. Many companies claim to clean and repair Oriental rugs, but we can’t find anyone who works with needlepoint. Do you have any suggestions?


A. The Association of Rug Care Specialists, a trade association that runs training programs, lists two companies near you, both of which are set up to clean and repair needlepoint rugs. They are Cunningham’s Rug Cleaning (855-784-3672), which is based in Elkridge, and Ayoub Carpet Service (703-378-2007) in Chantilly.

The key to successfully cleaning a needlepoint rug is blocking, which involves tacking down the carpet so it dries in the appropriate shape. Otherwise, all the little knots tighten and cause the rug to shrink as it dries. The two companies differ a bit in their approach. Chip Cunningham, president of the first, recommends full submersion cleaning, assuming the dyes test out as colorfast, and then tacking, while Dan Ayoub, owner of the other company, says it’s better to tack down the carpet first and then clean it. Full submersion cleaning is more thorough, but tacking down a carpet before it gets wet puts less stress on the fibers, so it probably makes sense to go with whichever approach seems most appropriate given the condition of your rugs.

Some stitching might re-secure the backing to the rug, or the fix could be more complex if the backing is glued to the rug. Cunningham said Chinese-made needlepoint rugs rarely are glued, but some made in India and Pakistan are.

A reader's needlepoint rug is in need of some TLC. (Reader Photo)

Cunningham’s company charges $3 a square foot for cleaning plus $1 a square foot for tacking, with free pickup and delivery within the company’s service area, which includes Rockville. The company doesn’t estimate repair costs until it looks at the rugs. Ayoub’s company charges $405 per rug for blocking and cleaning (about $5 a square foot for rugs the size of yours). If your damaged rug needs a new backing, Ayoub would charge $270 to put on a new one. The cost could be less if the backing can be salvaged.

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