Wool is a natural material made from the fleece of lambs, sheep and goats. While it is most commonly associated with sweaters, socks and other knits, wool also serves to create eye-catching, hard-wearing carpets. The yarn used to manufacture wool rugs is extremely durable and holds up well to everyday use; however, like all floor coverings, wool rugs are subject to sunlight, foot traffic and frequent spills, all of which can cause the fibers to fade. Prior to re-dying a rug, you'll need to bleach the wool fibers. While ordinary chlorine bleach is suitable for lightening some natural fibers, it will damage wool. To safely bleach wool fibers, use a combination of hydrogen peroxide, washing soda and detergent.
Wash the rug in hot water using ½ tsp. detergent and ½ tsp. washing soda per pound of material. Rinse well, then set the damp rug in the bathtub or kitchen sink to prevent unintentional water damage to flooring or furnishings.
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Pour 2 qts. tepid water into a large stainless steel pan. Add 3 qts. 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup washing soda and 1 tsp. detergent. Stir vigorously until the components are well blended.
Fill a large tub or sink with hot tap water. Slowly add the peroxide solution to the tub.
Set the rug on top of the water; fabric side down. Use a dowel rod, clean stick or wooden spoon to push the carpet beneath the surface of the solution. Press down on the rug until the material is completely saturated, then place four to six water-filled containers on top the carpet to weight it down and keep it submerged. Bowls, glasses, jars, pots, or pans all work equally well, but be sure not to use containers made from aluminum as the bleaching solution can damage the bleaching solution. Allow the rug to soak for 24 hours.
Drain the tub, then hold the rug beneath a stream of warm running water to rinse.
Mix 2/3 c. distilled white vinegar into 5 gal. water. Sponge the solution over the rug, wait 10 minutes, then rinse. The acid in the vinegar neutralizes the chemicals in the peroxide mixture and stops the bleaching action.
Squeeze the material gently to remove any excess water, and then hang the rug in a sunny spot to dry.