What Are White Knots In A Rug?

Why Are There Little White Specks in My Rug?

Whit knots on a rug

Most rugs that have wool on the label also have cotton in them. The face yards are 100% wool, but the foundation of the rug is usually made of cotton.

Hand-woven rugs are made on a loom and start out with a cotton foundation. So, the tassels that you see on a rug are the foundation of the rug that runs from one end of the rug to the other. That cotton also runs from one side of the rug to the other.

As weavers are weaving the rug they have a spool of cotton yard, sometimes the spool of cotton run out before they reach the end or the side of the rug. When that happens they simply grab another spool of cotton and tie it on the strand they have and keep weaving.

Also, if a cotton strand of yard happens to break during the weaving process the two ends are tied together, and the weaving continues.

These knots, called foundation fiber knots, or white knots for short, are found in every hand-woven rug. These knots are a normal part of the weaving process, the rug is not damage.

The cotton is usually white but sometimes it will be the same color as the foundation of the rug, whatever that is. There may be a few of them, or many of them. But, they’re always there and many times they can be seen on the rug.

There are four ways to deal with white knots:

1. Accept them as a natural part of the rug.

Leave them alone and appreciate them as a natural part of the rug.

2. Hide them by pushing them to the back.

If the weave of the rug is loose enough sometimes these knots can be pushed to the backside of the rug. This must be done carefully to avoid making a hole in the rug.

3. Clip the ends so they are shorter than the piles.

Sometimes it’s possible to clip the ends of the knots lower than the surrounding pile making them disappear.

4. Hide them with dye or ink (not a permanent fix).

It’s common to apply a dye or ink to the knots to make them blend into the rest of the rug.

There are two ways white knots can become more visible:

1. Age

With age the wool pile begins to wear from foot traffic and the white knots that use to be shorter than the wool pile can now be seen. Many rugs are sheared with a very low nap (which is common today), this can make the white knots more visible even in a relatively new rug.

2. A thorough washing

Dirt causes the cotton to become dirty and less noticeable, washing cleans the cotton, and washes away any ink that may have been applied to reduce the appearance of white knots. This may cause a newly clean rug to seem to have more white knots than it did when it was brought to the cleaning facility.

Two Important Things to Know about white knots:

1. The presence of white knots

White knots are present in EVERY handmade rug.

2. The white knots are usually more visible after a wash

The knots are clean and any ink that may have covered them up has washed out, so they may be more visible after a wash.

If you have any questions about white knots or anything else about your rugs please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.


This article was written in collaboration with Lisa Wagner “The Rug Chick” and Mark Kennedy.

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