How to Clean an Area Rug to Make It Look Like New Again
Area rugs warm up floors, inject color and pattern into a space, and create zones in your home's living quarters. But along with area rugs often come stains and debris, so it's important to know how to clean an area rug.
The first step to cleaning an area rug is to identify your rug's material. This is important in prolonging its life, as different materials require unique area rug cleaning methods and materials. Our handy area rug cleaning guide will introduce you to the many types of rugs and offer tips and instructions for area rug cleaning and stain removal.
Basic Area Rug Care
Size, construction, and material determine the best way to clean an area rug. Care for large area rugs as you would wall-to-wall carpet. That means most rugs will benefit from the following care routine:
- Vacuum large area rugs to remove dirt: As with carpet, regular vacuuming is the most important area rug cleaning step you can take. If a rug is reversible, vacuum both sides. This removes grit and grime that can wear out your rug prematurely. Take care to not vacuum any fringe. (Turn off the beater bar when vacuuming a shag rug to prevent tangling the long fibers.)
- Brush out pet hair: A vacuum will sometimes leave pet hair behind. Use a stiff brush to remove the hair, brushing in the direction of the nap of the rug.
- Turn rugs every year: Foot traffic and sun can put extra stress on area rugs. Turn them once or twice a year to even out the wear.
- Shake small area rugs: If the rug is small enough, you can take it outside and shake it or beat it vigorously to remove dirt and grit. Some areas have ordinances about shaking rugs outdoors, so check your local codes first.
How to Remove Stains from Rugs
Time is of the essence when your rug becomes stained. Remember to blot, not rub, the stain and remove moisture from spills as quickly as possible.
- Alcohol and soft drinks: Use a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent, 1 quart of warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. Apply to the stain, rinse, then blot dry.
- Coffee or tea: Using the detergent mix above, apply to stain, rinse, and blot. If a stain remains, use a commercial spot carpet cleaner.
- Gum: Peel off what you can, then put ice cubes in a plastic bag and place on top of the remaining gum to harden it. Scrape the gum off with a spoon or dull knife. Vacuum and use a dry-solvent spot cleaner if needed.
- Tomato sauce: Sponge with cool water, dab with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse with a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups of water and blot until dry.
- Urine, feces, and vomit: Apply detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner, rinse, and blot until dry.
- Melted wax: Use the same treatment as gum, hardening it with ice cubes in a plastic bag and scraping. Dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot to remove any remaining wax.