HOW TO CLEAN AREA RUGSRug care & maintenance guide
Keep Your Area Rugs Looking Their Best
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning area rugs. Different rugs are made from different materials, using different construction techniques. This means you should be familiar with how each rug in your home is needs to be treated individually. Most rugs will come with manufacturer recommendations on how to care for & maintain your rug properly, and following those guidelines will keep you from voiding your rug's warranty.
In this section, we'll break down common general cleaning methods for several of the most common rug types.
The Basics: Routine Care
All rugs should be vacuumed regularly, using a recommended cleaner to remove any loose dust, dirt and debris buried within the fibers. For more information, see our Care & Maintenance guide.
Stains should be dealt with immediately, using techniques and cleaning products that won't damage your rug. Most spills should be blotted using a soft cloth, and you should remember never to scrub a stain.
Scrubbing may remove the surface layer of a stain, but will actually grind some of the material even deeper into your fibers, making it harder to remove permanently.
Specific rug care is determined by size, construction, and material. Care for your large-size area rugs just as you would wall-to-wall carpet.
How to Clean Specific Types of Rugs
Below are some common rug types, each with specific cleaning techniques & suggestions based on their construction.
- Woven or Braided Rugs
Before cleaning, check your woven or braided rug for stitching breaks, and read any labels to determine whether smaller rugs are washable.
If your rug is washable, place it inside of a mesh laundry bag or zippered pillow case & wash using cool water on a gentle cycle. Rinse thoroughly and tumble dry on a low setting.
Larger rugs should be placed on a vinyl or concrete floor before cleaning, or over an old blanket or sheet. This will help you avoid water damage from liquids that seep through the rug's looser fibers.
You can sponge the surface using a recommended cleaning foam, and finish by rinsing gently and vacuuming to remove moisture. Make sure your rug is thoroughly dry before replacing it back on the floor.
- Handmade, Hand-knotted, Antique & Oriental Rugs
These rugs tend to have a more delicate construction, so take special care when vacuuming to avoid damage. Protect your handmade or vintage rugs by placing a piece of nylon screen over the rug and gently weighing it down. Vacuum over the screen to avoid direct contact with the material. You can aso attach a piece of nylon mesh to your vacuum nozzle attachment, changing it frequently as dirt accumulates.
Your safest bet with more delicate rug types is to have them cleaned professionally once per year. Rotate rugs to ensure even wear, and ensure that they are not placed in direct sunlight, which can cause fading.
- Fur, Sheepskin & Hair-on-hide Rugs
While we don't carry hair rugs, they are still very important to keep clean if you own them. Shake unscented talcum powder on your rug and let sit for several hours before brushing the powder through the hair & shaking out the excess. You may have to repeat this process several times depending on the length of the hair.
To clean the rug back, dip a clean cotton cloth into lukewarm, soapy water and gently wipe off any dirt or liquid spills. Rinse with another clean cloth dipped in clean water, then allow your rug to dry completely before replacing it on your floor to avoid damaging the surface beneath.
- Coir, Sisal, Rush, and Grass Rugs
The natural fibers and open weaves of these types of rugs allow dirt to sift through to the floor beneath, so remove the rug and vacuum frequently beneath it. Vacuum the rug as well.
Many of these types of rugs are reversible, so in order to prevent uneven wear, flip them over regularly each time you clean.
If your natural-fiber rug has any stains or discolored spots, leave the rug in place to clean. Place a plastic drop cloth and towel beneath it to protect your floor, then scrub the stains using a soft brush dipped in soapy water. Rinse with clean water and place a towel over the wet area to blot it dry. You can speed the drying process using a portable fan or a hair dryer set to cool. If your rug is small enough, you can complete this entire process on a protected counter or table.
Keep in mind that water will weaken these natural fibers, so you should work quickly and dry them thoroughly to minimize potential damage and prolong the lifespan of your rugs.
Stain-Removal Guide for Rugs
When rug stains happen, time is of the essence! Blot - never rub - the stain, removing moisture from any spills as quickly as possible. Below are some common household rug stains and the best way to tackle each.
- Alcohol & Soft Drinks
Apply a solution of 1 tsp of liquid dish detergent, 1 quart of warm water, & 1/4 tsp of white vinegar to the stain. Rinse & blot dry.
- Coffee & Tea
Use the same process as listed above for alcohol & soft drinks. If stain remains, use a manufacturer-recommended commercial spot carpet cleaner instead of the detergent solution.
- Urine, feces & vomit
Apply the same detergent solution as listed above for alcohol & soft drinks, or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse & blot dry.
- Butter & fat-based foods
For fatty foods such as butter, margerine or gravy, use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaner.
Peel off as much solid material as you can. Create an ice pack by placing ice cubes into a plastic bag & use the pack to harden the remaining gum. Carefully scrape it off using a spoon or dull knife, vacuuming or using a dry-solvent if necessary.
- Candle wax
For any melted wax, use the same treatment as listed above for gum. Then, dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to blot any remaining wax.
For acrylic or latex paints, spot clean using the same detergent solution as listed above for alcohol & soft drinks. If any color remains, dab with rubbing alcohol. For oil-based paint, sponge instead using odorless mineral spirits, being careful not to soak through to the rug backing.
- Tomato Sauce
Sponge with cool water, then dab with the same detergent solution as listed above for alcohol & soft drinks or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse using a solution of 1 cup white vinegar & 2 cups of water, then blot until dry.
Professional Rug Cleaning
As mentioned, you should have all of your rugs cleaned professionally at least every few years, if not more frequently.
As with any flooring product, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance suggestions and cleaning products.