Helpful Tips for Cleaning an Area Rug

So you’ve finally updated your living area with new hardwood floors. Better yet, you’ve added a perfectly plush area rug to complete the look. The divine colors have created a warm, homey feel – perfect for all the memories you’ll make there — from family movie nights and slumber parties to barbecues and dinner parties.

Even all the fun times in your home often come with dirt, crumbs, dust, and odors. And when you’ve invested money into this key piece of décor, you want it to look good and last. In order to maintain the area rug’s beauty, it must be cleaned, but not over-cleaned. To be sure your area rug is due for a good scrubbing, pick up a corner of your rug and let it drop to the ground. If a cloud of dust appears, it’s definitely time to clean your area rug.

And if you can’t afford to take it off-site to be professionally cleaned, you need to learn how to properly do the task. Cleaning an area rug takes some time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run.

Here are some tips to keep your plush rug looking like new:

  1. Sweep It Up: Rid your area rug of surface dirt by vacuuming it as often as you would do for wall-to-wall carpeting. If your area rug is reversible, vacuum both sides and be careful with fringes.
  1. Brush It Out: A stiff brush works well to pick up pet hair that a vacuum may miss. Remember to brush in the direction of the nap of the rug.
  1. Turn It Around: Foot traffic and sunlight can really do a number on the rug. To ensure even wear, make sure to rotate it once a year.
  1. Shake It Up: Taking a smaller rug outside to shake or beat it is a good, easy way to clean out the dirt and grit. 

Step Away From The Store-Brought Carpet Shampoo

After you’ve taken the aforementioned steps to remove the excess grime from your area rug, you’ll want to take the next step and scrub it. However, cleaning an area rug can be different from normal carpeting. This is especially the case if it’s woven with delicate natural fibers like wool, which can be damaged by abrasive chemical cleaners.

The following steps will help you clean without any damage to your rug:

  1. Test for Colorfastness after you decide on the right cleaning solution. But make sure you use lukewarm water, since hot water could shrink the area rug’s fibers or fade the vibrant colors. First, try it out on a small corner of the rug to make sure the colors don’t run. If not, you’re good to go.
  1. Lather up the cleaner into the rug. It’s smart to let it sit on the area rug for a few minutes before rinsing it out of the fibers.
  1. Thoroughly rinse with a garden hose.
  1. Squeeze the water out of the rug with a squeegee, but only in the direction of the nap of the rug.
  1. Lay It Flat To Dry. Once the top dries, flip it over so the bottom can dry as well.
  1. Loosen The Fibers.During the process of washing and drying an area rug, the fibers could compact. You can loosen the fibers of the rug with a vacuum or a soft-bristled brush.

Not All Area Rugs Are Created Equal 

Once you know the basics of cleaning your area rug, it’s important to note that some rugs need more specialized care.

  • Woven Or Braided Rugs: If a smaller braided rug is indeed washable, place it in a zippered pillowcase or mesh laundry bag and throw it in your washing machine on the gentle cycle. Conveniently, you can also put it in your dryer on a low setting. Sponge commercial carpet cleaning foam over the surface of a larger braided rug, and follow the instructions on the product label. As mentioned above, rinse it thoroughly, and be sure it is completely dry before putting it back in its place.
  • Handmade, Hand-Knotted, Antique, And Oriental Rugs: You can regularly vacuum a new Oriental rug. But be extra cautious with delicate vintage or antique rugs by placing a nylon screen over the rug before vacuuming.
  • Coir, Sisal, Rush, And Grass Rugs: Natural fibers are wonderful, however, their open-weave design tends to let dirt fall through to the floor beneath. Be sure to vacuum frequently – both the rug itself and the floor underneath. If the area rug is reversible, flip it over routinely for even wear.

While store-bought carpet shampoos are generally safe for most synthetic rugs, you may want to try a DIY solution as a more eco-friendly, gentler alternative. You may have most of the ingredients you’ll need in your cupboards already – like vinegar, dish detergent, or baking soda.

When you take care of your area rug, it will take care of you, creating a warm environment for your family to enjoy for years to come.

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