Rug Care 101: How To Clean Your Area Rugs?

Rug Care 101: How To Clean Your Area Rugs?


Rugs are there to warm up your floors, inject pattern, and color into space and create zones in your living quarters. However, with area rugs also comes debris, stains, and dirt, thus it is important that you know how to clean your area rugs.

Basic Rug Care 

The material, construction, and size determine the best way to clean your area rug. I have outlined a rug care routine that anyone can follow:

      Step 1: Vacuuming To Clean Your Area Rugs

Like carpets, area rugs benefit the most when regular vacuumed. If your rug is reversible you can choose to vacuum both the front and back.

Vacuuming can help remove the grime and grits that, when trapped, can immediately wear out your rug . Just be careful to vacuum cautiously on the fringe. Be sure to turn off the beater bar when you vacuum a shag rug in order to prevent the tangling of the long fibers.

      Step 2: Removing Pet Hair To Clean Your Area Rugs

Vacuuming is not enough! …. especially if you have a fluffy Fido or feline in the family. A vacuum can sometimes leave fine pet hair behind, so consider using a stiff brush to remove those fine hair and always brush in the direction of the nap of the rug.

      Step 3: Turning Them Annually

Heavy foot traffic and sun damage can put extra stress on your area rugs. Thus, you will need to turn them at least once or twice a year to even out the wearing.

      Step 4: Shaking The Smaller Rugs

If your area rug is small enough, consider taking it outside and shaking or beating out thoroughly in order to remove those grit and dirt. Keep in mind that there are some areas with strict ordinance about shaking your rugs outdoors, so check your local codes.

Cleaning Rugs By Material

Odd material rugs will need special cleaning. Be sure to store care tags in a memorable spot for easy reference.

Material One: Old, Antique, Hand-Knotted and Oriental Rugs

Persian runners and antique rugs are popular in the kitchen. With heavy foot traffic and special fibers, they require the most attention.

You can vacuum a new Oriental rug as you would with wool area rugs and carpet. Antique or vintage rugs are quite delicate thus they need special care. You can protect it from the force of vacuum by placing a piece of nylon screen over the area rug, then vacuum over the screen. Or you can just tie a nylon mesh over the vacuum attachment and changing it as dirt accumulates.

Consider specialized dry cleaners that clean area rugs for a once a year service.

Material Two: Braided or Woven Rugs

Before and after cleaning, make sure to check for stitching breaks. Check the labels in order to determine if your small braided area rugs are washable. If so, place it in a mesh laundry bag or use a zippered pillowcase, and place in a gentle cycle in cool water. Rinse thoroughly and tumble dry under low setting.

For large braided area rugs, place them on concrete floor. Sponge a rug cleaning foam over its surface and rubbing it in the rug directions. Finish by vacuuming or rinsing and drying it thoroughly.

Material Three: Hair-on Hides, Fur, And Sheepskin Rugs

Shake an unscented talcum powder on these kinds of rugs and leave it for a few hours. Then brush out the powder though the rug hair and shake it out. Depending on the length of the fur, repeat this process a few times.

Use a clean cotton cloth dipped in soapy water to clean the back of the rug and then wipe off any spills or dirt. Rinse with a cloth dipped in water then allow to dry completely.

Material Four: Grass, Sisal, Coir and Rush Rugs

Rugs that are made of natural fibers have an open weave which allows dirt and grime to sift through the floor beneath. Thus, you will need to regularly vacuum the rug and the floor beneath it as well.

Most of these area rugs are also reversible, so make sure to flip them after vacuuming to prevent rapid wear. To remove stains on natural-fiber rugs without removing rug from room, protect the floor beneath with a plastic towel or drop cloths and scrub the stain with a soapy soft brush.

Rinse it with water and place a towel over the wet area. Then, blot the cleaned spot dry. Use a hairdryer or portable fan to speed the drying process. Remember that water weakens natural fiber, so you need to work fast.

How To Deep-Clean Your Area Rugs?

Check care labels on your small rugs to determine if it can be dry-cleaned, laundered or spot-cleaned. A dry-cleaning-only label may indicate that an area rug is not colorfast, so make sure to test before spot-cleaning.

If a rug is washable, then wash it on the gentle or delicate cycle. To reduce tangling of long fringes, divide the fringe to several hanks, wrapping each one with a white string.

Hang wet rugs over a slotted table, clothes-drying rack or several bricks stacked on the patio.  Would not recommend hanging a wet area rug over a single clothesline as it can distort its shape as it dries.

Area rugs need to be deep cleaned every 12 – 18 months. Make sure to test commercial cleaning products on small areas of the rug to ensure that it will not damage your rug and that it is colorfast.

Also, always make sure that the area rug is completely dry before putting it back in place.

Can you take an area rug to the dry cleaners?

You might be wondering: “Do dry cleaners clean area rugs?”

While some dry cleaners do accept and clean area rugs, it is often better to hire a professional rug cleaning service for more deep and thorough cleaning while protecting your area rug from damages.

They have the right equipment and highly trained experts that deeply clean area rugs without weakening their delicate fibers, so you can bring the colors and patterns of your rugs back to life while also leaving your home healthier and cleaner for you and your family.


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