Wednesday, 14 January 2015

real silk vs artificial silk rug

Firstly, what is real silk and artificial silk?

Real silk is produced by the silkworm, either in the wild or in captivity.  Silk is an incredibly strong protein fiber that is only as thick as a hair.  Farmed silk fibers are more highly desirable as the silk can be collected in one single continuous thread (up to several thousand feet long).  When the captive silkworm creates its cocoon the silk farmers will harvest the cocoon by placing it in boiling water to kill the worm.  This is to prevent the worm breaking out of the cocoon and breaking the fibers, such is the result from harvested wild silk.

The silk thread is then collected and spun to create a super fine quality yarn.  This can then be dyed and will retain a rich vibrant colour.  The wild silk fibers are collected and spun together to make a ticker, weaker silk thread; these threads are sometimes blended with rayon and still called "silk".

Artificial silk, also known as Art silk or Faux silk is not made if silk at all.  Often these rugs are made from mercerized cotton or rayon which are cellulose products.  The cotton is treated (mercerized) to create a more durable and more light reflective product that closely resembles silk.  Rayon is a man-made cellulose product that is highly processed from cotton or wood pulp to create lustrous but poor tensile strength fiber.

Real silk vs artificial silk rugs

Real silk rugs are produced using only 100% silk yarn.  The yarn is extremely fine which is why the rugs imagery is able to be so detailed, they have a knot count of over 200-1000 or more knots per square inch.  This is an incredibly laborious and time consuming process which is why silk rugs can command such a high price.  As mentioned before, silk is an incredibly durable fiber but is it subject to wear by abrasion so high foot traffic will eventually cause them damage.  Many are used as wall hangings instead to admire their incredible craftsmanship.  Clean silk rugs will not attract carpet moths, once it gathers proteins such as food and drink the moths will be attracted to these; however carpet beetle is attracted to silk.  Pure silk has the amazing benefit of not being affected by dry rot and has a resistance to mold and mildew. silk rugs can appear very similar to real silk rugs, which is why so many people are regularly sold an artificial rug that has be marketed as silk.  So if they look the same whats the problem?  The main concern with buying a Faux silk rug for many is that the value of the item is greatly reduced.  There are also the more practical disadvantages to such rugs, they will loose their luster, they will likely shed their fibers and the cellulose will brown /yellow.

For more information on how to recognise a real silk rug see our blog.

If you have a rug that you are not sure of, feel free to bring it along to our rug cleaning studio in Chittering, Cambridge and our team will be happy to help you decipher if your rug is real or artificial silk.  We will be happy to give you guidance on the pest practice to best maintain your rug and keep it looking at its best.

We are proud to be the only Master Rug Cleaners in Cambridge.  For more information on our services contact our friendly team on 01223 863632 or email us at

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