Area rugs warm up floors, inject color and pattern into a space, and create zones in your home’s living quarters. Nevertheless, stains and dirt often accompany area rugs, so knowing how to clean an area rug is essential.

The first step in cleaning an area rug is determining its material. This is vital for extending its life since various materials need different area rug cleaning procedures and supplies. Our helpful area rug cleaning guide will introduce you to the many kinds of rugs and provide suggestions and procedures for stain removal and cleaning.

Basic Area Rug Care

The best approach to clean an area rug is determined on its size, structure, and material. Large area rugs need the same care as wall-to-wall carpet. As a result, the following care regimen will help the majority of rugs:

  • Vacuum large area rugs to remove dirt: The most critical area rug cleaning procedure, like with carpet, is frequent vacuuming. Vacuum both sides of a reversible rug. This eliminates dirt and filth that might cause your rug to wear out prematurely. Be cautious not to vacuum any of the fringe. (Turn off the beater bar when vacuuming a shag rug to prevent tangling the long fibers.)
  • Brush out pet hair: A vacuum may sometimes leave pet hair behind. Use a stiff brush to remove the hair, brushing in the direction of the nap of the rug.
  • Turn rugs every year: Foot traffic and sun can put extra stress on area rugs. To level out the wear, turn them once or twice a year.
  • Shake small area rugs: If the rug is small enough, you can take it outside and shake it or beat it vigorously to remove dirt and grit. Several locations have restrictions concerning tossing carpets outside, so check your local codes first.

How to Clean a Rug: Material-by-Material Guide

Unique rugs require specialized cleaning. Keep care tags on the carpeting for easy access. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations for deep cleaning and using a rug shampooer or a cleaning machine on the rug. Follow these guidelines for caring for specialized carpets.

How to Clean Woven or Braided Rugs

Before and after washing, inspect rugs for stitching breaks. Check labels to determine whether small braided rugs are washable. Place them in a zipped pillowcase or mesh washing bag if they are. Rinse well after washing in cold water on a gentle cycle. Tumble dry on low heat.

To clean large braided rugs, place them on a vinyl or concrete floor or place an old blanket beneath them. Sponge commercial carpet-cleaning foam($5, The Home Depot) over the surface and rub it in according to the product directions. Finally, rinse or vacuum the area. Before reinstalling the rug on the floor, allow it to dry completely.

How to Clean Hand-Knotted, Antique, and Oriental Rugs

While antique and Persian runners are popular options for kitchens and other high-traffic areas, they may need more care than others. Vacuum a new Oriental rug the same way you would a carpet or wool area rug. Take extra care with vintage or antique carpets. Put a piece of nylon screen over the rug and weight it down with books or bricks to protect it from the vacuum. Vacuum all over the screen. Or, tie a piece of nylon mesh ($5, Hobby Lobby) over the vacuum attachment and change the mesh frequently as dirt accumulates. Once a year, get these rugs professionally cleaned. Rotate rugs to maintain even wear; direct sunlight will cause fading.

Editor’s Tip: When buying antique rugs, learn as much as you can from the seller about the rug’s fiber content and construction. Inquire about care instructions.

How to Clean Coir, Sisal, Rush, and Grass Rugs

Rugs made from natural fibers like coir, sisal, rush, and grass feature an open weave that allows dirt to sift through to the floor beneath. They are used as welcome mats and mudroom rugs. Vacuum often, sometimes removing the rug to clean the floor underneath it. Several of these rugs are reversible; if so, turn them over after each vacuuming to ensure equal wear.

Leave a room-size natural-fiber rug in situ to clear stains or discolorations. Use a plastic drop cloth and a towel to protect the floor underneath it. With a gentle brush soaked in soapy water, scrub the spots. Clear water should be used to rinse. Cover the damp area with a towel. Blot the cleaned area as thoroughly as possible. To expedite drying, use a handheld fan or hair dryer. Little carpets should be cleaned on a safe table or counter. Water weakens the fibers, so work quickly and thoroughly to keep these carpets in good condition.

Some natural-fiber rugs are constructed in squares that are sewn together. Get a few more squares or a smaller size of the same rug. If a rug square becomes irrevocably stained, clip the threads that hold it in place and replace with a new square. Stitch it in place by hand using heavy-duty carpet thread.

How to Clean Fur, Sheepskin, and Hair-on Hides

Shake unscented talcum powder into fur, sheepskin, and hair-on-hide carpets and let alone for a few hours. Shake out the talcum powder after brushing it through the hair. Depending on the length of the fur, repeat this step numerous times. Use a clean cotton towel bathed in lukewarm soapy water to clean the back of this sort of carpeting. Remove any dirt or spills. Let to dry thoroughly before reinstalling with a clean towel soaked in water.

How to Deep-Clean Rugs

Small rugs should be dry-cleaned, spot-cleaned, or washed, according to the care label. A rug with a dry-cleaning-only label may not be colorfast. Before doing spot cleaning, conduct a test. After you’ve determined that a rug is washable, wash it on the gentle cycle in the washing machine. To avoid the possibility of tangling lengthy fringe, separate it into hanks and wrap each one with white thread. To protect the rug from the agitator, place it in a mesh washing bag or zipped pillowcase and wash it in cold water on the gentle cycle.

Wet rugs may be hung over a clothes-drying rack, a slatted picnic table, or a stack of bricks on a porch, patio, or breezeway. The form of a wet rug will be distorted as it dries if it is hung over a single clothesline. Miniature rugs made of carpet-like synthetic fibers may be dried on a small worktable or counter covered with a drop cloth, old sheets, or towels.

Every 12-18 months, give your area rugs a thorough cleaning. When using commercial cleaning products for the first time, test a small area of the rug to ensure that it is colorfast and not otherwise damaged by the product. To thoroughly clean a large rug, place it on a vinyl or concrete surface and apply carpet-cleaning foam and rub in according to directions. Finally, rinse or vacuum the area. When reinstalling the rug, make sure it is completely dry.

For small to medium-sized rugs, dry-cleaning may be a possibility; read the labels for care recommendations.

How to Remove Stains from Rugs

When your rug gets soiled, time is of the importance. Remember to blot, not rub, the stain and remove moisture from spills as quickly as possible.

  • Alcohol and soft drinks: 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent, 1 quart warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar are all you need. Apply to the stain, rinse, then blot dry.
  • Coffee or tea: Using the detergent mix above, apply to stain, rinse, and blot. If the stain persists, use a professional spot carpet cleaner to remove it.
  • Fat-based stains: Use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaning ($31, Amazon) for things like butter, margarine, or gravy.
  • Gum: Peel off what you can, then put ice cubes in a plastic bag and place on top of the remaining gum to harden it. Remove the gum with a spoon or a dull knife. If necessary, vacuum and apply a dry-solvent spot cleaning.
  • Paint: When the stain is still wet, spot-clean with the detergent solution for acrylic and latex paint. If the color persists, swab it with rubbing alcohol. For oil-based paint, sponge with odorless mineral spirits ($7, The Home Depot), being careful not to soak through to the backing.
  • Tomato sauce: Sponge with cool water, dab with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner ($10, Amazon). Rinse and blot with a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups water.
  • Urine, feces, and vomit: Use a detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleanser to the surface, rinse, and blot dry.
  • Melted wax: Use the same treatment as gum, hardening it with ice cubes in a plastic bag and scraping. To remove any residual wax, dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Examine the care label. Machine washing may cause the colors to bleed if it specifies dry clean only. If you don’t have a tag but are sure the material is colorfast, such as acrylic, the rug should be fine in the washing machine. Instead, most wool and silk rugs should be dry-cleaned. When in doubt, avoid machine washing.
  • Vacuum your rug twice a week on average. If you have pets or heavy foot traffic in your home, you may want to vacuum more frequently.
  • Unfortunately, vinegar will not work on all types of rugs. Only use vinegar on a synthetic fiber rug.

Related Questions

  • Can I use a carpet cleaner on a large area rug?

    Don’t use carpet cleaner or carpet shampoo on your rugs, as the chemicals may be too strong and damage the fibers. Instead, use a rug shampoo, like Bissell Pro Max Clean and Protect, as the cleaning solution. Mix the solution with water according to the guidelines.

  • Can you pressure wash a large area rug?

    If your rugs are getting dingy and you want to brighten them up, use a pressure washer. A pressure washer uses high-pressure water spray to remove loose dirt and grime, and it can get your area rugs looking great.

  • Can I use a Bissell carpet cleaner on an area rug?

    Area rugs may be thoroughly cleaned with the BISSELL Big Green carpet cleaning equipment. Just make sure that your area rugs or oriental rugs have a solid backing before cleaning them.

  • How do you dry a large area rug after cleaning?

    Remove Excess Water
    Put the rug between two layers of towels and firmly push down to extract any leftover water. You’ll be surprised how much extra water you can wring out of damp towels just by hopping on them. This is particularly true for bigger or heavier goods such as a blanket or towel set.

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