Freshen Up Your Area Rugs with These 6 Deep Cleaning Tips
You love your area rugs for good reason. They add color and texture to your space, keep your floors warm and comfortable and help dampen noise in your busy household. Since area rugs are often placed in high-traffic areas, they can easily accumulate dust, dirt and grime. Deep cleaning your rugs keeps them looking good and wearing well for years. These tips will help you keep your area rugs in perfect shape.
- Maintain your rug between deep cleaning sessions
Experts recommend deep cleaning your area rugs about twice a year to keep them looking their best. While these deep cleaning sessions are essential, it’s also important to maintain your rugs throughout the year by vacuuming twice a week. If you have pets or a rug in an especially busy area, you might want to vacuum more frequently. Keeping up with a regular vacuuming routine minimizes the dust and debris that builds up on your rugs over time, which will make deep cleaning easier.
If you spill anything on your rug between deep cleans, remove the spilled substance as soon as possible to prevent it from staining. Warm water, a bit of dish soap and a sponge will safely remove most stains from most rugs. Some stains, like a red wine spill, can be a bit trickier to remove. We’ll cover how to handle those stains later.
Pets, cooking smells and other things can leave lingering odors in your rugs. To refresh your rug between deep cleanings, you can sprinkle baking soda over the problem area, let it sit for around half an hour and then vacuum it up. The baking soda will absorb any odors so your rug smells fresh and clean.
- Watch for signs that your rug needs cleaning
While it’s good to get into a regular area rug cleaning routine, it might seem unnecessary to deep clean your rugs when they don’t look dirty. There are a few ways to check on your rugs if they aren’t visibly stained or dusty. If some sections of the rug look darker or the color is otherwise off, it needs a thorough cleaning. If any parts of the rug, especially if they’re in high-traffic areas, look matted down or feel rougher than they should, the rug’s fibers are holding onto dirt. You can also try lifting and dropping a corner of the rug. If the rug is hiding dirt, you’ll see dust billow out. When you notice any of these issues or it’s been six months since the last deep clean, it’s time to wash your area rugs.
- Read the Label: Understanding Rug Fibers
Some rug materials require special care or a different process than washing with a regular rug shampoo. Save care instructions when you buy a rug and look for tags with information about the material yours is made of. Here’s how to clean some popular area rug materials.
You’ll need to be gentle with your wool area rugs. Look for a cleaner made specifically for wool fabrics and apply it with a microfiber cloth. Then, blot off as much water as you can before leaving the rug to air dry.
Jute, grass and similar materials don’t usually mix well with water, so the best cleaning product for these rugs is a dry rug shampoo. Sprinkle the product onto your rug and use a brush to work it into the weave. Follow the package directions on how long to let the cleaner sit and then vacuum it up.
Many polyester rugs are machine washable, which makes your job easier. If your rug is labeled washable and it’s small enough to fit comfortably in your washing machine, wash it on the warm cycle and let it air dry.
Woven or braided
When you wash a woven or braided rug, you’ll need to be careful not to ruin the weave by pulling on individual strands. If you have a smaller woven rug, it might be machine washable. If this is the case, put it in a mesh laundry bag or zipped pillowcase to protect it, and wash it on a cool, gentle cycle. Then, tumble dry the rug on the low setting.
If your woven rug is larger or isn’t labeled as machine washable, you’ll need to find a good spot to lay it out for cleaning. Ideally, set the rug on a vinyl or concrete floor, like in your kitchen or garage. Put an old blanket under the rug to contain any mess, and use a carpet cleaning foam. Follow the product directions for how long to set the cleaner sit. Depending on what you use, you’ll either vacuum or rinse the product off. Let your rug air dry fully before putting it back in place.
Antique or hand-knotted
These rugs are more delicate, so they’ll probably need to be professionally cleaned.
Best practices for sheepskin rugs can vary, so check the label on yours. Some of these sheepskin rugs need to be professionally cleaned. Others can be machine washed on your machine’s coolest setting and then air dried. If your rug isn’t labeled otherwise, hand washing it will be your best bet. To do this, fill your bathtub with cool water and mix in a detergent made specifically for sheepskin. Then, let the rug soak for about five to ten minutes before rinsing it well. Lay the rug flat to dry. You can pat the rug with a towel to pick up excess water and help it dry faster. Make sure to keep your rug out of direct sunlight while it dries.
Fluffy or shaggy styles
Regardless of the material, fluffy, shaggy or very high-pile rugs don’t tend to dry easily, so it’s usually a good idea to use a dry rug shampoo product for cleaning. These cleaners come in either a powder or granule form. Sprinkle them onto the rug and work the product in. Let it sit for around two hours and then vacuum thoroughly.
Your outdoor rugs are designed to stand up to rain and dirt, so you don’t need to be as careful when cleaning them as you do with your indoor rugs. Soak the rug with your garden hose, use a broom to work in rug shampoo, rinse out the product and let the rug air dry.
- Patch-test your cleaning products
A rug shampoo designed for your rug’s material should work well. However, some rugs, especially ones with vibrant colors or patterns, might run when they’re washed. The first time you clean a new rug, it’s a good idea to do a patch test before you wash the entire rug. Find a corner or spot on the rug that’s the least visible, and work in the cleaner. Rub a white towel or rag on the spot to check for color bleeding. Then, wipe up the cleaner, let the rug dry and check for any discoloration. If your rug’s dyes run during the patch test, you might need to dry clean it instead.
- For most rugs, follow this shampooing process
Most rugs should be taken outside, shampooed and left to air dry. If your rugs don’t fall into one of the categories of materials that need special cleaning techniques, this is generally the best process to follow. As usual, make sure to read the label on your area rug, or spot test this cleaning method before shampooing the entire rug.
Pick the right day
Since you’ll be cleaning your rugs outside, try to pick a warm but mild day to do it. Look for clear, sunny conditions, and ideally plan to wash your rugs when you’re not expecting rain for the next few days.
Prepare your space
Set up a space for washing and drying your area rugs in advance. Most rugs will be too heavy for a regular clothesline, so you can create a sturdier line by placing a bungee cord or rope between two trees. You can also hang the rug over a bench, garden wall, fence or any other sturdy places you have in your yard. If you’d prefer to lay the rug flat while washing it, put down a tarp so it doesn’t pick up dirt or debris from the ground.
Cleaning larger area rugs can be tricky, and it’s easier to move the rug around with another person. You might want to plan to clean your rugs on a day when your spouse or a friend can help.
Dress for the job
You want to feel comfortable giving your rugs the thorough cleaning they need, so choose clothes and shoes that won’t be ruined if they get wet.
Prepare your rugs
Start by vacuuming both the tops and bottoms of your rugs. This will get as much dust and dirt out of the rug as possible before you start washing. If you have pets or long hair, you may also want to brush the rug to get rid of any hair the vacuum didn’t pick up. When your rug is ready, roll it up and take it outside. Then, whack the rug with a broom handle a few times to get rid of any remaining dust.
Wash the rug
Once your rug is in position in your cleaning station, wet it with your garden hose. Make sure the rug is soaked through completely – you can’t get it too wet. You can either use a sturdy brush or a sponge to work in the rug shampoo. A brush will give you a deeper cleaning, but a sponge is less likely to cause damage. You can choose based on how dirty your rug is and how delicate the fabric seems. After scrubbing, let the shampoo sit according to the product instructions. Then rinse it out thoroughly with your hose.
Try to squeeze out as much excess water as you can before hanging the rug up to dry. A squeegee can help remove water without twisting the rug. Depending on its weight and material, your rug might take a few days to dry, so make sure to hang it securely. If you have space in your garage or laundry room, it can make sense to let the rug dry there. This is also a good idea if anyone in your household has outdoor allergies since it’ll keep the rug from picking up pollen as it dries. The patio can also be a good spot for drying since it’s protected but still outside.
Enjoy your clean rug
Once your rug has dried fully, bring it in and return it to its regular spot. Before you’re done, vacuum the rug again. If it’s matted down from cleaning, this will fluff it back up so it looks its best.
- Treat stains as needed
Life happens, which means food, drinks and other things get spilled on your area rugs. These spills are much easier to deal with if you treat them as soon as possible to keep a stain from setting in. For any stain, blot the rug with a rag or paper towel to soak up as much of the spilled substance as possible. Make sure to pat instead of rub so you don’t work the stain into the rug. Then apply a stain treatment based on the type of stain and the type of rug. Here are some common stains and how to deal with them.
Coffee or tea
Apply a mix of one teaspoon of dish soap, one quart of warm water and one-quarter teaspoon of white vinegar. Then rinse and pat dry.
Wash off as much paint as possible with the dish soap and vinegar mix. Then, dab any remaining stain with rubbing alcohol.
Try a citrus-oxygen cleaning product and rinse it with a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts water.
If you have a synthetic rug, blot it with club soda. For a cotton rug, use white vinegar.
When in Doubt, Shop New Area Rugs at Lifestyle Furniture
If you don’t already have the perfect area rugs to complement your home décor, Lifestyle Furniture has all the inspiration you need to find the perfect look. Visit us in-store to browse chic area rugs and get helpful advice from our design experts!