Area rugs are beautiful and practical additions to any room in your home, but they can lose their luster over time. To keep rugs looking their best, it’s important to regularly vacuum rugs and deep clean them at least once a year. The following techniques and tips for how to clean a rug will help you enjoy your area rugs for years.
Routine Rug Cleaning Instructions
Regularly vacuuming your rugs is important for keeping dust, dirt, and pet hair out of the rug fibers. For basic rug care, you need a vacuum with an upholstery attachment and some baking soda to neutralize odors. This method keeps dirt at bay and refreshes the fabric (and also your room).
Every other week, sprinkle baking soda on the rug and let it sit for about 15 minutes before vacuuming. Lift the edges of the rug and vacuum the bottom to get rid of dirt and debris trapped on the underside.
Deep clean the rug at least once a year, or whenever it looks like it needs to be refreshed. Keep in mind that dirt in the rug makes it deteriorate faster, and cleaning it more often than once a year won’t weaken the fibers the way dirt can. Take the rug outside along with a cleaning product designed for the rug’s specific fibers. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations or the directions on the cleaning solution packaging and use a cleaning method appropriate for the rug’s material.
Cleaning Methods for Specific Rug Fabrics
The best way to clean an area rug depends on the type of rug you have, but it’s a simple enough task for you to do on your own. With the right supplies and cleaning techniques, your rugs can stay refreshed and clean. Check out our step-by-step cleaning tips for different rug materials:
How to Clean Wool and Cotton Rugs
You can safely clean many cotton rugs in the washing machine using the gentle cycle and a mild laundry detergent. Hang them outside to dry. Take wool and large cotton rugs outside. Place the rug on a bench, fence, or railing that’s sturdy enough to support its weight. Then beat the rug with a broom handle to loosen dirt and dust. Apply a diluted cleaning solution using a cotton or microfiber cloth, being careful to avoid saturating the rug. Repeat this process with clean water and a new cloth to rinse, and leave the rug outside until it is completely dry.
How to Clean Jute, Sisal, and Coir Rugs
Cleaning jute rugs and natural fiber rugs such as sisal and coir requires a dry technique. You will need to purchase a cleaning powder specifically designed for your rug’s fiber content. First, vacuum and gently shake the rug to remove all traces of visible dirt on the surface. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the right powder cleaner for your rug type. After cleaning, use a vacuum to remove all traces of the powdered cleaner.
How to Clean Shag and Sheepskin Rugs
Shag and sheepskin rugs need special care. You can hand wash small rugs that fit in the bathtub. Fill the tub with warm water and a detergent made for animal fibers. Swish the rug in the water for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse in clean water to remove all traces of the detergent. Then squeeze it to remove as much of the water as possible. Lay the rug flat to dry.
For larger shag or sheepskin rugs, clean them outdoors or rely on the expertise of a cleaning service.
Chemical-Free and Natural Rug Cleaning Options
There are several natural alternatives to the harsh chemicals used in commercial rug cleaning products. Vinegar is a fantastic all-purpose liquid that cleans and deodorizes — and no, it won’t make your rug smell like a salad. Make a solution of vinegar and water to blot on stains, pour in a carpet cleaning machine, or use in place of detergent for cleaning the entire rug. As the rug dries, the vinegar smell dissipates.
Here’s another tip. The next time someone spills a drink on the rug, pour some table salt or baking soda on top of the spot. After the crystals absorb the liquid, vacuum away the salt or baking soda, and the stain along with it.
Sometimes you need to deal with a spot or stain without cleaning the entire rug. To remove pet stains or drink spills on part of the rug, soak up as much of the liquid as possible using a dry sponge or cotton cloth. Then mix a solution of distilled vinegar and water. Pour this on the stain and blot the spot with a clean cloth, working from the center of the spot toward the outside.
More Rug Cleaning Tips
Keep your rugs looking new with these handy tips you’ll want to remember when it’s cleaning time:
- To remove gum from a rug, freeze the gum by placing a bag of ice over the top. Scrape the gum away with a plastic scraping tool and use cleaning solution to remove any traces of the gum.
- Before cleaning a rug at home, test your cleaning solution on a small section of the rug. If the colors don’t bleed, you can safely continue cleaning the rug.
- Consider applying a fabric protector to jute and sisal rugs. This helps prevent stains so you don’t have to clean the rug as frequently, and helps extend the life of the fibers.
- Always check the rug’s label so you know how to care for it. If you’ve inherited the rug or purchased it second-hand, consult a professional who can tell you what type of fibers it has.
- Clean spills as soon as possible to prevent stains. Avoid saturating and scrubbing the spot. Instead, blot liquids immediately and apply an appropriate spot cleaner to the surface.