Shopping For Rugs in Morocco (What I Wish I Knew Before)

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You know what really bites?

Buying a whole bunch of amazing rugs in Morocco only to bring them home and be plagued by itchy bites for months, by bugs so tiny you can’t even see them.

For weeks, I was convinced we had bed bugs. What else could be causing these tiny and intensely itchy red bites I was getting in the night? But why was I the only one in my apartment to get them?

I was obsessively cleaning my bedding, my room and my laundry to no avail, until I looked at my floor one day and realized this whole mess started after I came home from an incredible adventure in Morocco.

Why Don’t They Tell You This?

I started googling, “Moroccan rugs” “Bites from Moroccan rugs” and “bringing home bugs on Moroccan rugs” but all I could find where a few forums without anything definitive.

So I rolled up my rags and put them in garbage bags. And there they sat for about a month, until a professional cleaner came to pick them up.

“You have moth eggs in the bag you know,” he said. “But don’t worry, after we treat them you’ll be good as new.”

Turns out, in addition to the moth eggs (and moths that would have come from them, I suppose?) I also brought home tiny little mites. If you’ve never heard of mites (I knew nothing), they’re tiny microscopic critters that you can’t really see with your naked eye. There are 40k different species of them, and some of them, can bite.

The bites are small and round, hard and intensely itchy (kind of like bed bug bites).

If you think you might have them, I did a couple of things that really helped:

  • I brought in a professional who told me I wasn’t crazy
  • I bought a mattress protector that specifically protects against mites
  • I washed all bedding, laundry and went crazy vacuuming
  • I bought a new vacuum with a HEPA filter

I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of $$ and time if I had just taken them to be professionally cleaned from the jump, of course, but I honestly didn’t even think about it.

For Future Rug Shopping

This is probably the part where I should warn you that if you travel to Morocco, at some point, you’ll probably get called (or pushed or pulled) into a rug shop.

You’ll be offered tea and everything will start off casual until all of a sudden you find yourself on the shop floor where they are pulling rugs out left and right, piling them high before you. You like this one? No? How about this one?

If rugs aren’t your fancy, you may have to politely or not so politely get yourself out of there.

But, if you’re there to shop, you can negotiate some great deals for yourself (Tip: I found most things to be less expensive in the northern town of Chefchaouen than in Marrakesh).

I bought one mid-sized rug at a shop, and one smaller bathroom rug from a vendor on the side of a mountain I was driving past–who knows which one ultimately bit me in the end.

I don’t regret buying them, as they really are gorgeous works of art, but I do regret not having the foresight to anticipate that creepy crawlies might be creepy crawling on them.

Have you ever bought something abroad that turned out to bite you?

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About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, Go! Girl Adventures and creator of the Women's Travel Festival. She loves traveling and aims to inspire and empower women of all ages to get out there!

2 Comments

  1. Did the bites stop after you got the rug cleaned? I just bought a rug in Morocco, and my husband has been getting a lot of little bites. But I can’t find anything else online besides this one.

    • Hey Katy, yes they did. I got a mattress cover, hypoallergenic, and got the rug cleaned and that stopped the problem. Hope that helps you too!

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