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The Cause of Rug Shrinkage

Have you noticed that your rugs are shrinking? Alarmingly so? Don’t worry – you weren’t stiffed by your rug supplier. Some rug shrinking is inevitable. We’ll tell you why.

There are a few soft floor coverings which are guaranteed against shrinkage. Therefore, dimensional changes of your rug should be expected during cleaning. Your skilled professional rug cleaner should take every step possible to minimize this inherent characteristic.

The Rug Shrinks Even When it is Manufactured

During the spinning and weaving process, fibers and fabrics must be kept under tension for the proper functioning of equipment. For example, warp yarns are held under tension on a loom during a rug’s construction. Stretching occurs during this and other operations and fibers and fabrics remain stretched until moisture causes them to relax. Shrinkage at this point is often referred to as relaxation shrinkage.

Different Rug Fibers Shrink at Different Speeds

The amount of shrinkage which can be expected will depend upon the construction of the rug and the fibers used in the backing. Most shrinkage is due to the type of backing fiber used. The density of the face of fibers will also have a bearing on the amount of shrinkage. The type of face fiber has no relation to the amount of shrinkage.

Here at Big Red, our skilled rug cleaning specialists know how to identify the type of fiber, the density of the face fibers and the amount of shrinkage to look out for.

Moisture Causes Rug Shrinkage

Shrinkage which causes dimensional changes results entirely from wetting the backing yarns. Moisture causes the fibers to swell and this forces the weave threads to contract, causing the overall floor covering to shrink. Most of this type of shrinkage will occur during the first thorough wetting (usually the first cleaning).

Rug Shrinkage is Only to be Expected in Humid Singapore

Shrinkage can also take place in the home due to the rug’s backing yarns absorbing moisture from humid air. Given Singapore’s high humidity levels, it is only reasonable to expect some shrinkage.

So How Much Rug Fiber Shrinkage Should You Expect?

On some rugs, as much as ten percent shrinkage will take place. It is more realistic to see about two percent shrinkage of the average rug.


Take care of your rugs well and try to minimize contact with moisture or water. In humid Singapore, consider the use of air de-humidifiers.

When you do decide to clean your rug professionally, ensure that you engage the services of accredited rug cleaning specialists accredited by authoritative international bodies like the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, Restoration Industry Association and Carpet and Rug Institute. Big Red is proud to be one of the few cleaning companies in Singapore certified by all three bodies.

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