How To Clean Your Rug at Home in 7 Simple Steps

Area rugs are a useful part of the interior design process. They add many benefits to a home, which include softening the interiors of a room and they can also make a room look bigger.

rug in living room

There are many negatives connected to having a dirty rug in the home, from both a health and aesthetic angle. Dirty rugs can cause respiratory problems, can worsen allergies, and can even potentially cause skin irritation. On top of the physical health issues it may cause, having a dirty rug can also ruin the aesthetics of your home. Having a dirty rug in the home can make the home look visually unappealing, which goes against the ideas that you may have had when designing your home.

vacuuming rug

Rug cleaning should be a vital part of your home cleaning routine, especially in rooms where you may eat, have pets roaming in, or which may experience dampness. The challenges you may face during the rug cleaning process could include not having the right equipment to adequately clean your rug, ensuring that the rug is clean enough to alleviate the negatives of having a dirty rug and having the time to spend cleaning.

This step-by-step guide of tips aims to offer an easy, safe process for the rug cleaning process. It will highlight why you should be regularly cleaning your rug, and factors you should consider before cleaning, and will detail how to identify your rug material, as that can affect how you will go about cleaning your dirty rug.

Why You Should Clean Your Rug

There are many benefits to cleaning your rug, some of which have been outlined above, like health benefits and aesthetic benefits, but there are other benefits.

Undertaking regular rug maintenance can save you money in the long run. If you keep your rug in good condition through regular cleaning, it can extend the lifespan of the piece. Dirt materials can result in wear and tear to your rug, such as fraying, reduced pile, and discolouration of the fibers and dye loops, which will reduce the lifespan of the rug, so cleaning is essential to protect your investment.

There are numerous misconceptions surrounding information on carpet cleaning. As mentioned above, dirt acts as an abrasive to rugs, so the misconception about waiting as long as possible before cleaning your rug is false. Other false claims include:

  • Rugs should only be cleaned to remove stains
  • One method of cleaning is as good as any other

Rugs should be cleaned frequently, not just to protect the life of the rug, but also to keep the air quality of your home good. All methods of cleaning are not equal also. Dry cleaning methods can often leave residue, which results in a half clean, rather than the more thorough cleaning methods like steam cleaning.

dry-wet vacuuming

Factors To Consider Before Cleaning Your Rug and Identifying Your Rug Material

There are key factors to consider before cleaning your rug. For example, you must consider the size, the type of rug, the weight, and the stain type.

Different materials may require different care and cleaning techniques, as not all materials are created equal. There are many ways to go about identifying the materials your rug is made from. You may remember the material composition from purchase, there may be a label attached to the rug that outlines the material composition, or you may use one of several tests when looking at the potential material. Some of these tests include:

  • The Feel Test

    • You may be able to identify the rug material based on feeling alone. Synthetic materials (nylon, polyester, olefin, etc.) most often feel smooth to the touch and may also feel somewhat like plastic, whereas natural fibers (wool, cotton, jute, etc.) will be rougher in texture.
  • The Knot Test

    • Handmade rugs (usually made from natural fibers) will have individual knots on their undersides. Machine-made rugs (usually made from synthetic fibers) won’t have these same knots.
  • The Price and Appearance Test

    • Price can often be a good guide to show the type of material. Rugs made from natural fibers will usually come with a higher price tag as they are typically more durable and require a more intricate crafting process.
    • In terms of their appearance, silk will have a distinct sheen that is difficult to mimic, whereas wool will have a more matte appearance, as well as being dense and plush.

Failing this, you may require professional assistance in identifying the material, which you can get from a rug expert or a professional cleaning service.

Knowing your rug’s material is essential for proper care and maintenance, so when purchasing a rug, make sure to keep a record of the material, and make sure to keep a record of the material of any current pieces to ensure that they are being maintained correctly.

different materials

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean a Rug at Home

After ensuring that you have all the information required for adequately cleaning your rug, you can follow these steps as a guide:

1. Vacuum clean your rug

Vacuuming your rug before any other steps is essential.

  • Vacuuming will allow for the removal of any initial dust and debris. Removing this dust and debris is a vital step in the cleaning process, as it allows for the rest of the steps to be carried out properly. Frequently doing this step as part of your regular chore routine can extend the time between deep cleans.

2. Mix Your Cleaner

Different materials will require different cleaners, such as the following:

  • Wool – baking soda (moisture-free), vinegar (for removing odours), non-bio laundry detergent (a cup full mixed with a bucket of water), shampoo for wool rugs.
  • Synthetic–liquid soap (a ratio of 2 tablespoons of soap to 3 cups of water), specific rug shampoo.

3. Apply your solution to the rug

  • Ensure you are careful when applying as you do not want to saturate the rug.

4. Do not overwet the carpet.

  • Do not put furnishings back onto the wet carpet and do not ignore the dilution rate on the cleaning product (less is more when mixing your solution).

5. Rinse your rug

  • If required, you may need to rinse your rug. Ensure water is not too hot if this is necessary. You can also use a steam mop or a dry-wet vacuum.

6. Remove any excess water

  • A wet vacuum can be the easiest way to remove any excess water. Dehumidifiers can also be beneficial to the drying process.

7. Dry Your Rug

  • Rugs can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to fully dry. Ensure the room is well-ventilated while this process occurs to avoid mould growth. Don’t place furnishings back on the rug until it is fully dry.
  • Vacuum or brush out your rug
  • Once the rug is dried, give it a vacuum or brush it out, as fibers can be compressed during the cleaning process.

How To Maintain Your Rug

dog on rug

Maintaining your rug effectively extends its lifespan and keeps it looking its best. Regular vacuuming is essential, particularly in areas of high traffic or where pets and dining activities are frequent, to ensure the rug remains in pristine condition. Rotating the rug often promotes even wear, preserving its appearance and durability. It’s also advisable to protect your rug from direct sunlight, which can be done by using window films or tints, or by applying protective treatments like Scotchgard to guard against sun damage and spills. Despite diligent care, if the rug still appears lackluster, consulting a professional cleaner is recommended for a deeper clean with stronger products, ensuring your rug remains a cherished part of your home for years to come.

If you are looking for advice on your rug, Des Kelly’s has 50 years of experience dealing with rugs and rug maintenance (if you are looking for a new rug, Des Kelly’s offers a normal rug collection as well as a create-your-own service).

FAQs: Your Rug Cleaning Questions Answered

  • Can I steam-clean my dirty rug?

    • Steam cleaning is often the most effective way of cleaning a dirty rug, so if you can steam clean, follow the step-by-step instructions with that equipment.
  • Can I clean a dirty rug by hand?

    • Rugs can be washed by hand. It may require extra work and preparation, but it can be done following the step-by-step instructions above.
  • Can detergent be used to wash rugs at home?

    • Detergent can be used to wash rugs at home, just make sure that you are purchasing the appropriate detergent for the material of your rug.
  • What is the best thing to clean your rug with?

    • Each rug is different, based on the material, size, weight, and dirtiness of the rug, the cleaning product needed will be different. First, narrow down the material, and then narrow down the product needed based on how dirty the rug is.
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