Moroccan rugs. What you need to know.


Moroccan rugs. What you need to know.

The North African country of MOrocco has become a hugely popular tourist destination, and the region’s Geometric and Minimalist tribal designs have become equAlly popular in homes.

The growing demand for this “skin” has led some lower manufacturing centers to cut corners to get products to market faster and cheaper.

Although some very good quality and very decorative textiles are woven in MOrocco today, the bad guys are creating disasters that are tarnishing the reputation of the region’s textile traditions.

Here are some of the Areas where shortcuts are being taken, how to spot the signs of poor production.

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Contemporary and colorful Moroccan pile rug.

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Moroccan rug with pile design and flat weave.

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Colorful corner of a Moroccan rug.


Sheep from the higher elevations of MOrocco produce stronger, higher quality wool than those from the lower elevations.

Because lower quality wool is less expensive to purchase, some operations looking to cut costs will source lower quality wool and mix it with other natural and synthetic filler fibers to try to give it enough strength to weave into a rug.

A good quality long pile MOroccan rug can shed in the first few months of its life simply as a result of the release of loose short fibers or short pieces left over from the cutting process.

The difference in wool quality is that higher quality wool with higher quality yarn production will see shedding stop relatively quickly. Poorer quality wool and production will shed throughout its lifespan because the fibers have no inherent strength to begin with.

If you have a Moroccan rug that is shedding a lot, you’ll also want to inspect the rug for moths. These “shortcut” rugs tend not to have a Thorough cleaning process during production, and the chances of moth eggs and larvae entering the home from these rugs are very high.

(For tips on inspecting for moths, visitBugs and Carpet Moths. What You Need to Know.)


In recent years there has been a growing complaint of carpets in this region of strong offensive odours. Based on our experience at the rug store, and based on readers of my Rug Chick blog sharing their “horrible smell” stories of Moroccan rugs, these rugs tend to be rugs that are very faded on the front compared to the back part. They tend to be embroidery and soumac stitching styles.

The odors come from the chemical bleaching of the aftermarket rugs and/or from the use of heavy (and sometimes toxic) chemicals in the dyeing process of the fibers that are used.

With extremely faded rugs, spraying the face of these rugs with bleach solutions and exposing them to the sun is the process of creating a softer, more worn appearance.You can identify these rugs simply by looking at the back and seeing if the color doesn’t match.

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Moroccan Shag rug that has been chemicAlly faded.

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Move the Moroccan rug, opening the fibers with a smile, you can see that the tips have been bleached.

With these rugs in particular, a spill on the front (or a sloppy cleaning process) can absorb colors from the back and unintentionally change the look of these rugs. Bleach is a toxic chemical used in concentrations necessary to create this type of discoloration, and this odor often lingers on carpets for some time.

Other bad odors can pose a more serious problem than bleach.

Dan Driscoll, founder of The Anou (a network of weaving and artisan cooperatives in Morocco) conducted field research into some complaints of noxious odors and found that several major suppliers in the region are using chemicals, such as formaldehyde, to shorten the dyeing process. .

Not only does this create health concerns for the local weavers (as well as the consumers who purchase these rugs), but the quality of the dye in the fibers is so weak that even simple water spills can spell dye-bleed disaster. for these rugs. Dan writes about it on his blog at:Click here for the entire article.

This pair of poor dyers produce some of the lowest quality fibers in the region and are the source of some of the most problematic rugs to come out of Morocco. So when shopping for Moroccan rugs, keep an eye out for whether the rugs have any odors.

Carpet cleaners recognize these problem rugs when their customers spill water and a large ink stain emerges. Or a cleaning Area where all the color was removed in the drying process. These are also the rugs that can dramatically turn a rug-wash floor into dye soup if you don’t know the dyeing process is flawed.

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Back of a Moroccan flat weave.

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Obverse of a Moroccan flat weave. A spill caused the dyes to bleed.

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Obverse of a poor quality Moroccan flat weave. A water spill created a dye bleed watermark.

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Back of the same rug. Note the many fiber breaks (knots) in the construction of the carpet.


In the world of Moroccan rugs, when rugs are bad, they are very bad. This means that a standard fiber test and a standard dye test will alert you to a serious quality control issue. The basics will save you, so don’t skip them.

A visual inspection of the front and back of the carpet will also provide you with the information you need to know if the carpet has been chemically cleaned.

Your nose will tell you if there is a more serious situation at hand. The worst thing about these rugs are those that cause allergic reactions in their owners. When I get a call that someone has a freshly purchased Moroccan rug that smells horrible, I recommendInstruct them to remove the rug from their living space until they can decide whether or not to return the rug as defective.

If you decide to wash the rug to try to remove the odor, which may require more than one wash, take the appropriate precautions in case formaldehyde is the problem.

If you have designers and clients looking for Moroccan rugs or planning a trip to the region, give them tips on inspecting for quality. Using your thumb to scratch the fibers to see if they break and separate easily (a sign of bad wool). Using a damp tissue to test the quality of the dye. Use the “smell test” to see if something seems strange about the carpet.

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New Moroccan kilim rugs damaged in shipping from moisture causing lower quality dyes to bleed.

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Careful use of dye removal chemistry enhanced these Moroccan kilims.

With awareness of these problem mats in this region, we hope that we may see these short-cut vendors being driven out of the market.


Moroccan rugs, quality ones, wash very well and will last their owners a lifetime.

Quality Moroccan rugs have high-gloss wool with rich, joyous colors. They are rugs that always make me smile.

I hope these tips help you avoid bad decisions.

If you need any feedback on a Moroccan rug you are viewing, you may contact me for care advice or information on fiber and dye quality.

Happy rug shopping!

PS If you’re looking for a place to buy some original Contemporary fabrics made by Moroccan artisans through an organization that strongly supports women in the region for a living, I can’t say enough good things about The Anou ( I’ve been a fan of theirs for years.

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PostingMoroccan rugs. What you need to know.first appeared inCarpet Girl.

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