Cleaning an Area Rug

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated May 22, 2017)

Area rugs are an inexpensive and cost effective way to add a visual "pop" to any room, and they are also a great way to increase the longevity of your carpet, especially in high traffic areas. However, daily traffic and dirt gradually build up in the fibers of your rug. If your rug is not cleaned occasionally, this debris can tear, stain and damage your floor coverings.

To get the most out of your rugs, you will want to clean them a few times a year to keep them well maintained and beautiful. Depending on the size and fabric composition of your rug, you have several options.

  • Small rugs. Small rugs, like the ones used to cover up high traffic areas and on bathroom floors are the easiest to be cleaned. All you have to do is pick them up, take them outdoors to shake loose debris off and place them in the washing machine. Make sure you use a gentle, non-bleaching detergent so you don't damage the rug fibers or ruin the colors. You may want to run your rug through an additional rinse cycle to ensure that all the soap is removed, because if you leave soap reside on the fibers, it will attract dirt and your rug won't stay clean for very long. Liquid detergents wash will rinse cleaner than dry soap cleaners. Also, it is best to air-dry your rug, especially if it has a rubber backing (like most bathroom mats) because the heat of the dryer may age and damage the rubber. Air drying also reduces the risk of shrinkage.
  • Medium to large rugs. If your rug is too large to clean using your home washer you have a few options. Many laundromats are equipped with extra large machines that may fit your rug, but call ahead first to find out. If a washing machine isn't an option, you may want to rent a rug cleaner, which can be rented at the service desk in most grocery and home improvement stores.
  • Specialty rugs. If your rug is an heirloom, hand woven, naturally dyed or made of wool, you may want to consult a professional cleaner that will have the equipment and expertise to protect your investment. If you are insistent on cleaning it yourself, make sure you spot test any cleaners you will be using in a small, hidden area before you proceed.

Author Bio

Carolanne Strong

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