You’ve just rolled out a fresh new rug in your home! Now, you’re ready to start welcoming guests…who will eventually spill a glass of wine on it during the house party. Or maybe you have pets and kids bringing in mud, sand, and who knows what else from outside. Even if you’re riding solo, your beautiful new rug is bound to collect dust and dirt from simply walking on it.
So how do you keep your area rugs clean? Unless you own an antique, the good news is that you can handle most messes at home.
How to clean your rugs
Vacuuming on a regular basis is the best way to keep a rug clean. How often you do this depends on your lifestyle, but the general rule is to vacuum at least once a week. Use a suction-only setting instead of the rotating brush to avoid pulling or unravelling yarns from the rug surface.
Deep cleaning is recommended at least once a year. Before you jump into cleaning at home, always check for any care labels. The last thing you want is to apply the wrong cleaning solution and accidentally ruin your rug! Keep an eye out for the material breakdown as well. Antiques and other delicate yarns like silk and viscose are best left to the pros.
Once you’ve confirmed there are no special care requirements, follow these tips for all of your small and large cleaning projects. We’ve broken them down by some of the most common rugs owned today:
Cleaning polypropylene and polyester rugs
Polypropylene, polyester, and many other synthetic rugs are pretty easy to keep clean. After vacuuming, all you need is a mix of mild dish soap and warm water. Add the mixture to a spray bottle.
Specialized rug shampoos are also ok, but not those meant for carpets which can be too harsh. Be sure to test whatever solution you pick on an inconspicuous area to make sure the colors don’t run.
As long as everything checks out, move on to the steps below. It’s best to work outdoors if you can (on a sunny day, of course). Place the rug on a tarp or plastic prior to cleaning.
Spray your solution
Use a sponge to work up a good lather, and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
Use a hose or buckets of water to thoroughly rinse the rug.
Remove excess water
Use a wet-dry vac or squeegee to get rid of as much water as possible.
Hang the rug over an inclined surface and allow both sides enough time to fully dry.
If you can’t clean your rug outside, place a waterproof tarp underneath it to avoid damaging the floor. You can also clean the rug in your tub if it’s small enough. Follow steps 1 – 3 above, but use a wet-dry vacuum only and drape the rug over a plastic/tarp protected table or chairs to dry.
Cleaning rug fringe or tassels
Rugs with fringe have a way of adding character to a space, but keeping those delicate edges clean can seem a little intimidating. The main thing you want to avoid is vacuuming directly over them, especially with high-powered suction.
Instead, use a soft brush to remove any dirt and dust buildup after you’ve finished vacuuming the rug itself. Then, roll the edges back to vacuum the floor.
Anything spilled directly on the fringe should be cleaned with a mix of mild detergent and warm water. Use a sponge to gently wipe away any residual buildup.
Cleaning faux fur rugs
Like fringed rugs, the key to keeping your faux fur rug clean is to be gentle! Vacuum on the lowest suction-only setting available. Be sure to flip it over and vacuum the back — this will help remove dirt settled deeper into the rug pile.
To deep clean, thoroughly saturate the surface of the rug with the same detergent/water mix used for synthetic rugs. Gently scrub with a sponge, rinse, and air dry.
You can also take the easy route with smaller rugs by tossing them into your washing machine. Run it on a delicate cycle, but do not use fabric softener or scent booster beads.
Cleaning jute and wool rugs
Clean spills immediately by blotting with a clean dry cloth. Wool rugs can be spot cleaned with mild detergent and cold water only. For jute, apply baking soda to wet spills to absorb as much liquid as possible.
It’s best to consult a professional for deep cleaning wool and jute rugs, as they are highly absorbent and are easily destroyed when not cleaned properly.
Can you wash rugs in the washing machine?
While small faux fur and flatweave rugs are generally safe in the washer, you want to be careful with other types of rugs no matter what size they are. The only exception is a machine-washable rug.
Unless the care label says otherwise, you can generally toss any washable rug up to a 5×8 or 6×9 into your home washing machine. Anything larger is best cleaned in a commercial washer. Use mild detergent and wash with cold water only. Air dry.
We know that deep cleaning by hand can get a little time consuming, but your rug will thank you! With these tips in your arsenal, you’ll be able to enjoy your rugs for years to come.
For more on rug cleaning, check out our guides to getting tomato sauce out of a rug and cleaning shag rugs.