Lisa Wagner, Rug Chick weighed in on a series of questions in the NYTimes.

Is this rug worth cleaning?

Yes but hire a reputable, professional carpet cleaner who has an well established company and is recommended by interior designers – too much water and soap will ruin a rug.

Oriental-style rugs are sold everywhere. How do you know it’s a good rug?

If you can see the same design on the back as on the front, that’s woven. Wool is the best; practically indestructible and sustainable. Woven wool rugs last centuries. Hand-woven is the most valuable. If there is canvas or burlap material on the back, that’s a tufted rug. Those are typically made in India and China, where they use a lot of glue and sometimes bad latex. It looks like a pile rug but may last only 5 or 10 years.

What is artificial or “art silk.”

I had a decorator come in with a rug and say, “It’s a wool and silk rug.” I had to say, “It’s a wool and viscose rug.” It was labeled “manmade silk.” You’d think that means silkworm silk, not machine-made viscose. Viscose rayon is weak. It yellows, doesn’t hold colors. It sheds. If you buy a room-size silk rug, and it’s under $1,000, it may not be real silk.

Can you vacuum too much?

Today’s vacuums may be too aggressive, especially if there is hard floor underneath. You need to sweep a wool rug with a carpet sweeper. When you vacuum, once a week or two, use a canister vacuum, and set the beater bar high for less abrasion. Vacuum from side to side, not end-to-end, so you don’t grab the fringe. Once a year, take the rug outside and vacuum the back to get embedded dirt out that causes fiber wear. Then vacuum the top again. If you whack a corner and see a dust poof, it needs to be washed.

How often should a rug be cleaned? Why? 

Even if a rug doesn’t look dirty, it slowly gets duller and the fringe starts to look bad. If you wait, dust, especially silica, sinks down. Whether the base is cotton or wool, when it’s walked on, those pieces saw away at the fiber. That’s what makes a rug go bare, not foot traffic. It’s foot traffic on a rug that hasn’t been swept, beaten and washed — even if it has a good rubber rug pad underneath, which cushions compression.