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How to clean an antique turkish kilim rug

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I did it. I bit the bullet and ordered up an antique Rug of Many Colors all the way from Turkey.

There’s still a long way to go before I have the fun, colorful foyer we talked about, but it already feels like the happy, playful sister to my serious, safe foyer of yore.

tribal kilim rugs


As soon as you walk in our front door, it’s all: “WHATUP! COLOR IS HAPPENING! CHECK IT.” *Mic drop*

But it’s an antique from the early 1900s, so it shouts in a frail, elderly voice.

I ordered it from this ebay seller, who has endless amounts of antique, colorful rugs handwoven on the other side of the world. (Read my ebay ninja tips here.) I wanted to bring them all home, give them a place to breathe and thrive, pet them gently and whisper to them how much I love them.

new kilim rugs


  • Anatolian Turkish Classic Antalya Kilim
  • Antique Anatolia Turkish Kilim
  • But I can only save one starfish at a time.
  • I found this guy and fell in love with him. He arrived in a package like this, which I ignored for a while because I was afraid I’d hate him in person. Much better to live in happy anticipation and think of how good he COULD be than open him and be disappointed. (There’s probably room for some psychoanalysis there.)

    inexpensive kilim rugs


    Weston was VERY interested in helping open this mystery package, but then when we did, we got a whiff of something musty and stinky. This conversation happened:

    vintage kilim rug


    Andy: Gross. Why does it smell like that?

    Me: I don’t know. Maybe that’s what Turkey smells like.

    Weston: Mom, why does our rug smell like turkeys?

    I took the rug and its turkey smell outside and let it air out for a day, then I took it back inside and Andy and I tried our groundbreaking all-natural carpet cleaner method while Mila Jane helpfully supervised.

    Anyone else get oddly excited to see dirty things get clean? The carpet cleaner kept collecting buckets of thick, dark brown water – one after another – which left me both grossed out and amazed.

    You’re welcome for THAT photo.

    We ended up getting about three buckets of brown water before it started to clean out a bit. Then we left it to dry and found that once the vinegar smell went away, the rug still vaguely smelled of turkey. Turkey. turkeys. One last attempt!

    We spread a pretty thick layer of baking soda all over the rug and let it sit overnight, then vacuumed it up.

    Muuuuuuch better. The baking soda absorbed all the turkeys and the rug is fresh now.

    I love it. Andy thinks the rug is “too itchy” but his Princess Foot Syndrome has been well documented and established, so don’t trust anything he says on the matter. I think it feels like a glorious foot massage and will make dirt tracked in from outside virtually disappear, which is right in line with my typical house-cleaning strategies.

    When I was considering whether to go for it on a wild, fun rug, I contacted my ever-stylish friend Kimberly at Swoonworthy and asked her if I was crazy to consider it. She pointed out that, yes, I am probably crazy, but that’s another issue. And all it would take to make the rug feel at home is to incorporate the colors elsewhere in my house. You know how sometimes it’s so hard to see your house with fresh eyes? That. It is GOOOD to have friends much more stylish than I am!

    You can see the view from the foyer looking into the dining room…

    The dining room has a smidge of red already, but I’m now on a mission to carry the rug’s colors through neighboring rooms and basically stop an inch short of a crazy fun-house. I have some other plans for the foyer that’ll make it all (hopefully) a bit more cohesive over time.

    Or it’ll just feel like a color-splosion and there’ll be nothing any of us can do about it.

    What do you think? Cool or headed toward crazy fun-house? BTW, if you hate kilim rugs, you should take yourself right over to this post and enter the debate. You can still go to that post if you like them, though.

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