Free Shipping Anywhere On All Rugs

Kilim Rugs 101: Never Buy Before Knowing These

Last updated on August 17th, 2022

Transforming a dull space to a lively retreat is never impossible once it encounters the remarkable patterns and rich color palettes of a kilim rug. Kilim, which originated in Turkey, is a pileless piece of hand-woven textile made using a flatweave technique.

With so many different colors and patterns to select from, incorporating it into home design is a breeze. It can be employed in a variety of room settings, regardless of whether your home's predominant style is classic, traditional, eclectic, modern, bohemian, or minimalist. The sky is the limit and the design options with kilim rugs are virtually limitless.

There are many questions that arise at the mention of a kilim rug such as: What are they? What are the differences between them and other handmade rug styles? How are they made? How to clean and style them?

This handy guide will help answer all your questions and tell you all you need to know about the glamorous kilim rugs. 

What is a Kilim Rug

Kilim rugs are a kind of lint-free carpet that can be laid on floors or hung on walls, usually multi-colored and patterned, and hand-woven from hair or wool. They are mostly used for decorative purposes because of their exotic color harmony, simplified pattern richness, and strong geometric expression.

what is a kilim rug

Woven from wool or bristle yarn on vertical or horizontal floor looms, the technique is one of the oldest weaving techniques known to man. Its difference from pile rug is that it is without lint and knot, and its difference from other plain weaving mats is that it is made with two yarn systems and its patterns are not fluffy.

It’s of Anatolian origin and differs in style according to region. It’s known that the nomadic Turks in Central Asia invented "kilim” as a way to protect themselves from the dampness of the soil floor of their tents. The most famous regions of Turkey for their kilim rugs are Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, and Aksaray.

village in sivas turkey
A village in Sivas, one of the regions in Turkey famous for rugs.
Free shipping on authentic Turkish kilim rugs. Shop now

Traditional Turkish Pile Rug vs. Kilim Rug

It’s common to mistake one for the other because of how similar they are in the sense that they are both handmade rugs of the same origin. However, it’s unwise to assume one can substitute the other. They are both unique in the way they are made and their styles. They begin to differ at the very start of their production process: Weaving. The weaving technique affects their quality, style, design complexity, and texture greatly.

The first known rug in the world was found in an archaeological excavation in Pazırık bunkers in the Altai Region of Siberia. This rug was found to be made with the hand-knotting technique unique to Turks from 5-3 BC. The fact that the Pazırık rug was made with the Turkish knot technique (Gördes knot) shows that the traditional technique of Turkish rug art dates back to a very old past.

Kilim rug, on the other hand, can be described as a "thin and lint-free rug”. It is believed that kilim, which is one of the flat-woven mats, has a history of more than 4000 years. It is hand-woven from wool or hair.

There are many ways to tell these two similar decorative pieces apart. The traditional Turkish rug is generally on the thicker side while the kilim is always thinner and smaller in size. Kilims are now mostly found in either older houses or houses that have been inspired by the dazzling ethnic style of the old Anatolian decoration.

hand knotting turkish rug
Turkish pile rug is hand-knotted, i.e. knots are created and tightened down with the rest of the woven rug. This is the reason why Turkish pile rugs are thicker and take longer to finish.
Shop hand-knotted vintage Turkish rugs

Kilims usually take around a month to be woven completely while traditional Turkish rugs can take up to 4-5 months to be fully complete. This is due to the fact that the “double knot method” is used during the production of traditional Turkish rugs, which is a method where the wool is looped and then cut with scissors. The artwork and the style also differ. Kilims have a strictly symmetric styling whereas the traditional rugs don’t care for symmetry.

Because traditional Turkish rugs are bigger, thicker, and more time-consuming, they tend to be more expensive than kilim rugs. This is more beneficial for the customer because the decorating options for kilim rugs are wider. The two ways of decorating with kilim rugs, on the floor or hung up on the wall, are both equally popular and widely practiced methods.

Dhurrie Rug vs. Kilim Rug

The Dhurrie rug is commonly used as a floor covering in India, where it originated. However, the notion of a dhurrie differs from that of a traditional pile rug in that dhurries are also used for bedding or packaging, in addition to flooring.

Although today the terms “Dhurrie” and “Kilim” have become interchangeable because of the similarities they have, they are still two different kinds of rugs that are easily distinguishable if you know what to look for.

Cotton, wool, jute, and silk are the most popular materials used to make dhurrie rugs while kilim rugs are primarily made from just either hair or wool. The most distinctive difference is that, whereas kilims feature brightly colored geometric patterns, dhurries favor more pastel colors of flowing stylized designs. It would be practically hard to tell them apart if this information was not known.

dhurrie rugs vs kilim rugs
Dhurrie rugs favor pastel colors and are traditionally used as a floor covering in India.

Soumak Rug vs. Kilim Rug

Soumak is a type of flat weave with a thicker and stronger weave than kilim. The woven faces of soumak and kilim are different, with soumak having a smooth front and tattered back while kilim having a smooth front and back.

The soumak rug technique of weaving entails wrapping colored threads above and below the warp threads, producing substantial embroidery. Soumaks are intricately woven that are sturdier than kilims but not as tough as traditional pile rugs.

soumak rug vs kilim rug
Soumak rug is sturdier than a kilim. It features a smooth front face and a ragged back face.

Soumaks are produced mostly in Caucasus, Persia, and Turkish Anatolia. Kilims are produced mostly in Turkish Anatolia.

How is Kilim Rug Made

Kilims are a kind of rug created by the flatweave technique. Flatweave is created by intertwining various colored wefts (the crosswise threads on a loom that are passed over and under the warp)  and warps (the lengthwise threads on a loom over and under which other threads, the weft, are passed), instead of knotting them together like a carpet or pile rug. Kilims are usually woven using the slit weaving technique, which is a sub-weave of the flatweave technique. There are a few different kinds of flatweaving that create beautiful and unique patterns in kilims. All of these unique methods are listed and explained below.

Plainweave method

plainweave method

The weft and warp are evenly and similarly spaced in this method, so they are both equally apparent on the finished product. A variant called weft-faced plainweave features warps that are more distributed and wefts that are densely packed together, making them less visible.

Discontinuous knitting is used to hand-knit one color block at a time. The weft is usually turned back on itself in this weave. A tulu weave makes a tufty soft mat. This is constructed with a loose yarn weave that is woven into a plain weave kilim by wrapping two warps and pulling them tight, a technique known as the Turkish knot.

Buttonhole rug method

buttonhole rug method

In this method, wefts of various colors are returned from the motifs' boundaries after being placed between the warps from one bottom and one above to cover the warps.

If there is a vertical line between the two patterns while the scarf of the neighboring motif in another color returns several rows from the same place on the border of that motif, a vertical buttonhole occurs between the two patterns.

Vertical lines are avoided as much as possible in weft-faced weaving because the warp pairs standing next to each other are surrounded by two different wefts and retracted at the border of the two patterns. Tears are prevented from forming in these vertical pattern borders by the development of little buttonholes not exceeding 10 mm (0.4 in) in steps.

Diagonal slit method

diagonal slit method

To eliminate buttonholes, designs comprising primarily of diagonal and transverse lines, rather than vertical lines, are weaved. However, if it is absolutely necessary, buttonholes can be made in a few locations.

Curved scarf rug weaving

curved scarf rug weaving

Normally, the wefts are passed in a transverse straight line between the vertical warps; however, in this method, the wefts are pressed with a kirkit (a comb-like tool made of iron or wood used to tighten the weft thread in hand-loom weaving) strongly in some places and lightly in others, according to the pattern. As a result, the wefts are passed between the warps with a curvature that is appropriate for the pattern.

Because the scarves are stretched in some areas and loose in others, curved and round lines may appear. Only the presence of a very accurate weaving pattern allows for a realistic weaving of a flower, a bent branch, or a leaf.

Additional weft clamping between regular wefts

Additional weft clamping between regular wefts

The wefts that were previously laid and compressed with kirkit are compressed by placing a small group of wefts on them. Several rows of the original wefts are then carefully put on top of it.

Eliminating buttonholes with double clamping

Eliminating buttonholes with double clamping

The scarves of different colors that go and come to their own design area are mutually interlocked with the other colored scarf they come across when they return. That is, a weft moving along the pattern in one row, after being clamped with the weft on the other side, makes double clamping with the top one in a round trip; this offers a solid touch and a completely buttonhole-free weave.

On the front, pattern sections are separated from one another by rigid lines. While on the back, both pattern areas look as if they were sewn together with adjacent other colored thread. This method of removing buttonholes is rarely utilized in Anatolian rugs.

Eliminating buttonholes with wefts returning from the same warp

Eliminating buttonholes with wefts returning from the same warp

Pattern threads from different pattern sections converge on the same single warp. As a result, the warps that are split into pairs at the vertical pattern boundaries are joined. The buttonhole is sometimes destroyed by turning the wefts one at a time, and other times by returning two at a time.

Wrap contour

wrap contour

The gaps and buttonholes generated between the wefts are wrapped with a frame thread of the same color as the remaining warps and frame lines, resembling needle-like embroidery on the fabric's surface. The wrapping is done one at a time and can be upwards, downwards, diagonal, or vertical depending on the pattern.

Many people think that these are handled with a needle. However, after the return of each weft row, a pattern yarn of a different color is wrapped around a pair of warps in between.

This yarn is left in the area until the second row is filled, after which it is wrapped around a pair of warps and repeated throughout the pattern. Rugs woven in almost every region in Turkey are using this technique.

Curved weft contour

curved weft contour

Wide gaps are left between the patterns and are filled with a contour thread of a different color by passing through the warps parallel to the edge of the pattern. Thus, diagonal curved stripes are filled between the wefts that are normally inserted transversely.

Further Readings (Turkish):

Also Read: Meanings of Motifs and Symbols

How to Clean a Kilim Rug

Kilim rugs are astonishingly beautiful and for them to keep their striking beauty, they need to be properly cared for.

Dusting Off

Prior to washing the rug, ensure that its surface is free of dirt and dust. Brush the rug from top to bottom using a broom, then flip it over to brush the opposite side.

To make cleaning easier, the kilim should be placed on a flat surface. You can clean it with any broom, but the best control is provided by a hand broom, which is essentially a handheld brush with long bristles, similar to a typical broom.


Create a gentle cleaning solution by combining 1 part vinegar for every 8 parts carpet shampoo water solution. If carpet shampoo is not available, you can substitute any mild soap for it, but avoid using laundry detergents. The vinegar in the solution will assist in preventing the rug's colors from bleeding.

Lather and pour the solution evenly throughout the kilim, ensuring that it reaches each and every wool fiber. Use a soft brush and go over the entire rug. Avoid scrubbing the rug too hard. Because its fibers are more delicate when wet, you risk damaging the kilim if you are too aggressive. Brush carefully in vertical strokes once you reach the fringes.

washing kilim

After you're finished, rinse the rug thoroughly with clean water and leave it to dry. You can wipe extra water from the kilim by swiping it with your hand.

For both washing and rinsing, lukewarm water (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) is optimal.


When vacuuming the kilim, use a low suction setting. If possible, use a tiny handheld vacuum. They aren't strong enough to do damage to the wool fibers. A canister-style vacuum cleaner is an ideal option here and a vacuum cleaner with a rotating beater brush should be avoided.

vacuuming kilim

Do not forget to vacuum both sides of the kilim and do not vacuum the fringes.

Additionally, if you are able to invest in a carpet sweeper, do so as they are a much better option than vacuums for rugs in general.

Handling Spills

When dealing with spills, time is critical. Using a clean sponge or paper towel, clear the spill from any solids and blot as much of the liquid as possible. Additionally, lift the rug and dab the spilled area of the floor.

Blotting alone may not be sufficient to clean everything, in which case you may need some boosting power. For this purpose, create the same lukewarm cleaning solution described under "Washing" above. Apply on the affected area only and start scrubbing gently.

Rinse with clean lukewarm water, wiping the lather away and then blotting the rug to remove moisture.

Cleaning Pet Stains

As with spills, pet stains can be treated if they have not dried yet and you act immediately. You will need the same lukewarm cleaning solution, as discussed previously, and baking soda to start with the cleaning process.

cleaning pet stains in kilim

Begin by adding baking soda to the affected area. Allow the baking soda to sit for around 30 minutes, soaking up as much liquid as possible. Then clean up the baking soda by vacuuming it.

Repeat the process of adding baking soda if the rug is still damp. This time you can use a white cloth or rag to press against the affected spot and soak up as much excess moisture as possible. Free up and remove all baking soda once you're done.

Not everything might have been taken away by the baking soda, in which case the cleaning solution will be necessary. Apply it on the affected area and scrub using a sponge or soft brush. Finally, rinse everything with lukewarm water.

Seeking Professional Assistance

For dried and persistent stains or just for overall deep cleaning, always consult a professional rug cleaner and you'll be sure to add more years to your beautiful kilim.

How to Style with Kilim Rugs

How to Style with Kilim Rugs

Create and Incorporate!

Create a warm and lively spot to welcome everyone with a small kilim rug on the entryway and a kilim runner in your hallway.

You can incorporate a kilim into your bathroom to add creativity and a pop of color. Just pick a nice spot ideally next to your bathtub and see how it can transform your bathroom.

Kilim is also a popular choice for throwing some patterns and spice up the kitchen space.

And if you love the cozy and boho vibe, you'll surely want to incorporate kilim in a lot more spaces including your living room and bedroom. You can create a magical and gypsy spot on your balcony or terrace with just a kilim, some plants, and colorful pillows (kilim pillows!).

style kilim living room
Shop large vintage Turkish kilims

Hang it!

Incorporating a kilim rug into your room design does not only mean laying them on the floors, you can also hang them on your wall. You can hang them on the wall next to a bed or sofa or on the wall along the corridors then add some plants and you'll be surprised how dreamy things will look.

Furthermore, hanging a rug is a terrific way to entirely hide up a wall if you lack the other furnishings to make it go with the rest of your room design.

Layer up!

This can be done while maintaining a stylish and contemporary appearance. Make sure the colors complement one another and focus on tones rather than precise shades. A kilim rug provides an excellent contrast to a neutral rug. They work together to elevate the overall style of your space through the added texture.

layering kilim rug
Photo by Natalie Myers

For Furniture & Accessories too!

Kilims are so versatile that they can also be used to style your ottomans, pillows, sofas, and chairs, as well as bags, shoes, and many more! They will certainly give your accessories and your furniture a fresh and creative look.

various kilim products
Shop handmade Turkish kilim pillow covers

How Much do Kilim Rugs Cost

Size, age, and origin are the primary factors that determine the price of a rug including kilim rugs. The prices vary largely as to whether the kilim is new, vintage, or antique. However, there is no definite price range for kilim rugs as prices can fluctuate dramatically from time to time and between different cities in the origin country.

Kilim rug prices also depend greatly on where you buy them. Buying from those that sell rugs sourced directly from weavers will save you a lot of money as that would mean eliminating several middlemen and skipping the entire layers of distribution channels.

We at Turk Rugs acquire vintage kilim rugs straight from the “source”, from village people in remote villages around Central Anatolia (Turkey). They are authentic and each one of them tells a different story. And because there are no middlemen involved, we provide a more intimate service and we are able to offer them at really affordable prices.

About Turk Rugs

Turk Rugs brings a collection of beautiful vintage rugs that are of hand-knotted and hand-woven types, and made from organic sheep wool and dyed using all-natural (vegetable) dyes. 

Each rug is sourced directly from the villages in Turkey and delivered straight to your doorstep i.e. skip the entire layers of the traditional distribution channels that inflate prices and enjoy lower prices on authentic vintage rugs.

Shop Collection
Wool Rugs: 9 Things You Absolutely Need to Know

A wool area rug is a perfect piece of decor that ties the whole room together, adding warmth, beauty, and a gorgeous focal point. A high-quality wool rug can cost a pretty penny, but they’re well worth the investment. Rugs made with 100% wool are durable, versatile, and natural, and they will often feel and […]

Read More
Complete Guide to Turkish Rugs

Turkish rugs are an essential part of everyday life in Turkey. One can see them in every room in any given house in any part of the country. Even though there are plenty of replicas manufactured in factories due to their low cost, there is still an appreciation for handmade vintage pieces that had been […]

Read More
Kilim Rugs 101: Never Buy Before Knowing These

Transforming a dull space to a lively retreat is never impossible once it encounters the remarkable patterns and rich color palettes of a kilim rug. Kilim, which originated in Turkey, is a pileless piece of hand-woven textile made using a flatweave technique. With so many different colors and patterns to select from, incorporating it into […]

Read More

Be the first to know the latest in our handmade vintage Turkish rug offerings, discount codes and more!
Copyright © 2020 Turk Rugs.
All Rights Reserved.
    Your Cart
    Your cart is empty