If you want to hang on to a rug you’ll need later, or simply don’t have the room for a prized shag at the moment, storing it can be a solid solution.

The danger comes in, however, if careful measures aren’t taken prior to placing the piece in storage.

“I have seen improperly stored textiles reduced to threads and dust in just a few months because of poor handling and storage,” said Alex Roach, a pest management consultant.

How To Store Rugs

Follow these guidelines to prepare a rug and keep it in excellent condition while it’s not in use:

  1. Vacuum and clean the rug
  2. Apply insect repellant.
  3. Roll up the rug, with pile on the inside.
  4. Wrap in a paper cover.
  5. Store in a dark place with low humidity.
  6. Check on your rug periodically to make sure there are no pests.

Keep reading for more details on each step:

Run before you get vacuumed

Clean it Thoroughly.

“Depending on the condition, you can vacuum the piece or take it outside to beat out the dust,” advised Harriet Jones, a cleaning supervisor at Go Cleaners London. “For stubborn stains on delicate pieces, it is best to consult with professionals.”

If the rug gets wet during the cleaning process, let it dry completely to avoid any mold problems later on.

Protect the Rug.

Moisture and bugs are two of the main risks a carpet faces during storage.

“Common rug-loving pests are silverfish, moths, and the appropriately named carpet beetle,” explained Roach.

To avoid these, apply a insect repellent made for use on rugs.

Woman rolling carpet

Roll and Wrap

After it dries, roll up the rug. Most throws can be rolled with the pile on the inside. If the material is fragile, however, it may be best to keep the pile outside so the foundation is not damaged. Don’t fold it, as a folded rug could easily crack or get creases in it, noted Jones.

Then wrap the rug in a paper wrapping so it can breathe and any water vapor can escape. A couple of options to try: brown Kraft paper or Tyvek paper.

Keep it Dark and Dry

Place the wrapped mat in a clean area for storage, making sure that it is off the floor and doesn’t have anything else stacked on top of it.

Check that the place has no moisture or humidity in the air, and is cool and dry, suggested Matthew Iswariah of Luxzura, which offers natural rugs, throws and cushions.

“Keep it out of direct or reflective sunlight as it can fade the color or yellow it if you have a white sheepskin.”

Another option to reduce the risk of pests is to use cold storage, noted Roach. “Not all materials fare well in freezing temperatures, but this can be an option for some textiles.” Most insects will perish after just a few days when the temperature dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check on Your Rug

If the rug is valuable, check on it once or twice a year to make sure it is still in good condition.

Watch for signs of potential damage such as live or dead insects, larval or pupal cases, frass (seed-like droppings from pests), webbing on textiles and loose fibers, advised Roach.

“Also look for changes in environmental conditions which may lead to damage, such as water leaks or mold.”

You might also apply another coat of insect repellent to keep bugs away.

If you do note some pest infestation on the material, you can try freezing it, explained Roach. Seal the rug in a bag, such as a garbage bag, and place it in a freezer for three or more days. Then let the rug thaw completely before opening the bag.

When you’re ready to bring the rug back home, disinfect it first, suggested Jones. If you have a steam cleaner, you may be able to do this yourself. If not, call a professional carpet technician.

Then vacuum the piece before setting it up in its new place.

Rachel Hartman