Navajo Rug Care

The care of Native American blankets and rugs is vital to its long life, vitality, and value. While the claim is often made that Navajo weavings are not fragile, they are not eternal and require care.

If a piece of your Native American Indian fine art weave is in need of repair, great care should be taken with the selection of the restorer, and he or she should add as little new art work as possible to your Navajo weaving.

Navajo weavings often curl at the corners, usually due to a tightly woven textile expanding under differing humidity or temperature conditions. Untie the corner ties of the rug, noting carefully the original way in which they were tied, and work the binding cord slightly back toward the center, to release the accrued tension. Retie the original knot.

Cleaning Navajo Native American blankets and rugs is best left to professionals. Dry cleaning is safe but tends to dry out the wool eventually. Cleanliness is important, since dirt particles are abrasive and will also make Navajo Native American blankets and rugs more attractive to insects. Whether your Navajo rug is displayed on the floor or wall, both sides should be vacuumed periodically. Frequent inspection, cleanliness, and the use of moth balls or crystals, are the best defense against insects. Moth crystals, will not kill moths or prevent already present moth eggs from hatching, but will discourage the adults from laying thier eggs in your Navajo rug.

Stored Navajo weavings, blankets and rugs should be rolled either around a tube or upon themselves, not folded.

No Native American blankets, rugs or fine art weave should be exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time; even the best quality dye will recoil from such an affront, and vegetal dyed Navajo rugs fade quickly upon exposure to any light. Navajo weavings, blankets and rugs displayed in a well-lit room using incandescent or fluorescent light will lose their original brilliance, just as those exposed to sunlight. Illumination should be soft, indirect, and preferably one which has the ultra-violet rays filtered out , to insure longer color life of your rug art.

Navajo rugs used on the floor should always have a pad placed beneath. This not only prevents slipping, but absorbs much of the distress of walking, allowing the threads to move more gently under the pressure. A floor covering should be rotated regularly, not only to balance the areas exposed to recurrent travel, but to also allow the textile to adjust under use. Wool expands and shrinks, and rotation helps balance this regular movement within the fabric.

Navajo weavings, blankets and rugs hung on walls have more stress on them, than those stored rolled in a dark cabinet, so some care must be taken to hang them properly. Most important, nails should never be used. A strip of material, either velcro or drapery heading, can be sewn along the top of the art weave, with the needle passed carefully between the warps as the weaver placed her wefts. A Navajo rug should always be hung from the warps, as they were made quite strong to last through the continuous pounding of the weaver’s comb. A dowel rod can be passed through the heading and attached by brackets to the wall. With the velcro method, one strip is sewn to the rug, while the other is nailed or stapled to a board, and the board in turn is nailed to the wall. Support along the entire top of the rug art is the principal consideration.

With proper care, many of today’s Native American blankets and rugs will eventually appear in museum art registers of the next generation.