Know the Difference: Hand Woven vs. Machine Made Rugs

Can you tell the difference between hand woven rugs and machine made ones? To an untrained eye it can be very difficult to tell the difference, but knowing how is everything when it comes to the proper care and handling of your rug. The following is a guide to help homeowners distinguish what kind of rug they have and what precautions to take when cleaning.

Hand Woven vs. Machine Made Rugs

One of the best ways to tell the difference between a hand woven and machine made rug is to look at the back of the rug. The knots of a  hand knotted rug will be slightly uneven and different sizes while a machine made rug will look very uniform and perfectly even with machine made stitching.

Machine made rugs always have a sewn on fringe. The fringe of a hand knotted rug is an extension of the rug foundation.

hand knotted,

Hand woven rugs are made on special looms where every knot is tied by hand. Traditionally these rugs are made from either silk or wool, and can take anywhere from several months to several years of hard work to complete. Because of the quality of natural organic materials used Orientals can last for generations and increase in value as they age.


Machine Tufted Rug w/ Sewn on FringeMachine made rugs are manufactured quickly with synthetic materials (such as polypropylene, nylon, acrylic and art silk). Typically these rugs cost a lot less and have a much shorter lifespan than hand woven ones.

One popular kind of machine made rug are the “hand-tufted rugs”. Hand tufted rugs are NOT the same as hand-made rugs! These rugs are cheap and easy to make and re-create by using a tufting gun which pushes yarn through the backing to create a tuft. Material is then glued to the back of the rug to hold the fibers in place.

Because these rugs are made differently they must be treated differently when cleaning as well. Hand made rugs must be tested for dye bleeders before cleaning so that the dyes do not release and stain the rest of the rug. Machine made rugs with latex backing can be especially tricky to clean because if you’re not careful the glue can dissolve during the washing process and thus destroy your rug. For these reasons it is imperative that you choose a professional carpet cleaner with the the proper training and experience to handle your Oriental rug the way it deserves to be treated. 

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