How To: Clean an Area Rug
For many of us, area rugs are a significant investment in decor. They warm up and add color to our rooms. They provide soft places for game playing, movie watching, and slumber partying.
But in order for rugs to last for years, they need to be maintained. And a big part of that maintenance is regular cleaning. Sure, you can send out a rug to be cleaned off-site by professionals—but it ain’t cheap. If you’re willing to put in some time and energy, however, it’s eminently possible to do a good job of cleaning your own rugs at home.
As an added benefit, you’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly what types of cleaners are being used on your rugs—knowledge that’s increasingly important to many, especially those with young children or chemical sensitivities.
1. Prepare the Rug. First, thoroughly vacuum the rug on both sides to remove any loose dirt.
2. Test for Colorfastness. You have two options. You can follow the mixing instructions on a store-bought rug cleaner/ shampoo (Bissell makes a good one), or you can add a couple of capfuls of mild dish detergent to a bucket of warm water. Do not use hot water, as it may shrink fibers or fade color. Now, test your solution on a small corner of the rug to make sure that it doesn’t make the colors run. If it doesn’t, proceed to the next step.
3. Wash. Using a sponge or brush, work a lather of shampoo or detergent deep into the rug. Allow the solution to sit on the rug and work for several minutes before rinsing.
4. Rinse. Thoroughly rinse the rug with a garden hose, making sure the water is clear of soap suds before you finish.
5. Remove Excess Water. Squeeze as much water out of the rug as you can with your squeegee, being careful to work only in the direction of the rug’s nap.
6. Dry. Lay the rug flat to dry. Once the top side is dry, flip it over so the bottom can dry as well.
7. Loosen Fibers. Use a vacuum or soft-bristled brush to loosen up the fibers of the rug, as they may have compacted during the washing/drying process. Return your rug to the room and enjoy!
It’s important to wash rugs only when they’re dirty. To test whether or not your rug needs to be cleaned, pick up a corner of the rug and let it flop down onto the floor. If a little cloud of dust floats up, a cleaning is in order. Also, wash rugs when they are visibly dingy or have a noticeable odor.
With regular maintenance and cleaning, your rugs will serve your family and home for many years, playing host to scores of game tourneys, TV marathons, and fireside snuggles.
For more home maintenance tips, check out our video on eight cleaning mistakes everyone makes:
For more on carpets and rugs, consider: