How to Properly Clean a Rug

Rug Cleaning

A single square foot of carpet can hold a pound of dirt before it looks dirty, which means that even with regular vacuuming, much soil is trapped beneath the surface. In addition to keeping the floor underneath a rug clean, the correct cleaning procedure can lengthen its life and help to keep it looking new.

The frequency of Rug Cleaning depends on where the rugs are located, how much traffic they receive and whether you have pets or children. Generally, you should expect to clean washable rugs once or twice a year and woven wool rugs and oriental rugs several times a year. Rugs that are placed in high-traffic areas may need to be cleaned more frequently, such as daily or weekly.

When a rug needs to be cleaned, first consult the care label for instructions on water temperature and detergent. If the rug is machine-washable, do so in a mesh laundry bag or zippered pillowcase to prevent it from tangling with the agitator. Use cool water and a mild liquid detergent. A hot wash can permanently damage a rug and leave behind a sticky residue that attracts more dirt. Rinse the rug thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before replacing it on the floor.

To speed the drying process, it’s a good idea to hang the rug outdoors on a clean deck or in a well-ventilated area. A warm air fan also helps speed the drying process.

If the rug is not washable, try scrubbing it with a brush or broom to remove dirt and stains. Be sure to brush gently to avoid ripping the fibers. For tougher stains, try using an oxygenated powder (such as OxiClean) mixed with water. If you use a commercial rug shampoo, test it on a small corner of the rug for colorfastness before applying to the entire rug.

The most important step in rug maintenance is prevention. Regular vacuuming, especially in high-traffic areas, and dealing with spills promptly are the best ways to extend a rug’s life.

Preventative measures include avoiding direct sunlight, which can cause colors to fade, and using a rug pad to prevent the rugs from sliding on the floor. A pad will also reduce the snag factor caused by furniture legs and will lessen the wear on a rug’s backing.

If you do have a rug that needs cleaning, try to have it professionally cleaned at least once every two years. This is because a professional rug cleaner can clean your rug more thoroughly than you can, removing the soil that is buried deep in the base of the rug. It is this soil that prematurely wears the rug by grinding it like tiny bits of sandpaper. A professional rug cleaner will also know how to handle antique and oriental rugs, which require a more delicate approach. They will also inspect your rugs ahead of time to determine the best way to clean them. The inspection process includes checking for dye bleed, abrasions and other potential problems.