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How to Clean an Area Rug: Expert Tips from Noël Home

March 17th, 2020 how to clean an area rug

An area rug can bring a room to life. It may serve as a neutral canvas that anchors a stunning color palette or it might be the accent piece that offers the right spark of energy to a monochrome space.

Regardless of the role it plays in a room, an area rug will likely experience plenty of foot traffic, which can cause it to appear dingy and dirty. We’ve got some great tips on keeping these important pieces looking their best.

First and foremost, read the tag. If your rug is very delicate or an antique, you should have it cleaned by an expert. If not, there’s no reason you can’t take on this project yourself.

Vacuum Regularly

A weekly cleaning with a vacuum will go a long way in keeping your rug free of typical household dirt, dust and debris. Use a handheld attachment or a canister vacuum with the beater turned off. A high-powered vacuum can pull at the fibers, causing damage and fuzz. The handheld attachment offers the best protection against damaging your rug. Avoid vacuuming over sewn edges and fringe. This can damage and loosen thread on the edges and fray your fringe.

Sweep, Brush and Beat a Sturdy Rug

Sometimes, the vacuum can miss pet hair. On short pile rugs, try a carpet brush. A carpet rake will work better for a longer pile rug. If it’s small enough, light enough and study enough, take your rug outside and shake it. Hang it over a structure like a railing and beat it with a broom or rug beater.

Deep Cleaning

The instructions for cleaning spots, stains and odors varies by material, so make sure to find out exactly what your rug is made of before attempting to do any deeper cleaning.

Before you tackle the entire rug, be sure your cleaner doesn’t cause colors to run. Find a small corner and test the cleaning solution. If it doesn’t bleed, you can proceed.

No matter what material your rug is made of, there are a few rules you’ll want to follow. Always clean spills as soon as possible. It’s much harder to clean a set-in stain. Make sure to gently blot with a clean white cloth, rather than vigorously rub a spill, which can press it deeper into the fibers. Be sure to remove all residual cleaner with clean water and then dry the rug with clean, white towels.

Synthetic Rugs

synthetic area rugs

To remove a stain in a synthetic rug, first, blot the stain with a dry white cloth. Then, mix a solution of a drop or two of dish soap and cold water or use a carpet shampoo. Dab the stain gently with a sponge dipped in the cleaning solution to remove the stain. Follow with a good rinse with clean water.

For general overall cleaning, it’s best to take your rug outside. Work the soap solution into the rug with a soft-bristle brush and let it sit for five minutes. Then rinse with a hose. Blot as much excess water as possible out of the rug with a clean white towel and then let it completely air dry. Once the rug is entirely dry, vacuum it again.

Wool Rugs

wool area rugs

Wool rugs are more delicate than synthetic ones and less colorfast, so be sure to test for colorfastness.

If you discover a stain on a wool rug, blot it immediately with a dry white towel. Using a small amount of dish soap and cold water, gently remove the stain with a sponge and blot to dry. Too much water, heat or vigorous rubbing may cause color bleeding.

For deeper cleaning, mix a bucket of cold water and a tablespoon of laundry detergent made specifically for wool. Wool rugs feel soft when rubbed in one direction and rough in the other. With a sponge dampened (not soaked!) with the cleaning solution, wipe in the direction of the soft side. Rinse your sponge and then dab with clean water to remove the cleaning solution. Avoid soaking the rug. Use a clean, dry towel to soak up as much moisture as possible and then allow it to air dry until it is completely dry.

Shag Rugs

shag area rugs

A shag rug – by definition – has long, deep fibers. These can be a real challenge to keep clean. Be sure to take it outside and shake it often.

To treat a stain on a shag rug, press deeply into it with a clean rag to soak up as much moisture as possible. Spray carpet cleaning solution into the stain and wait a few minutes for it to do its work. Then blot until dry.

For deeper cleaning a shag rug that can withstand moisture, rent a carpet cleaner. If the tag tells you it can’t get wet, call in the professionals.

 Natural Rugs

natural area rugs

Rugs made of jute, hemp, sisal or other natural materials usually have loose fibers and knots. Be sure to vacuum on a low setting to avoid damaging or unraveling your natural rug.

Blot spills and stains with a clean, white, dry cloth working from the outside in toward the center of the spill. Water will weaken the natural fibers, so it’s best to avoid deep cleaning. To remove a stain, blot with a solution of warm water and a few drops of laundry detergent. Then blot with clean warm water. Blot dry again with a dry, clean cloth and then allow the rug to air dry.

A beautiful area rug can change the look of a room. Check out our collection of amazing rugs to find the perfect match for your living space. Then, keep your gorgeous new area rug looking its best by using these helpful tips for how to clan an area rug from the experts here at Noël Home!

noel home rugs