To keep your rug looking good and extend its life, you’ll need to do more than vacuum it once in a while. When you buy an area rug – even before you position it on your floor- there are certain precautions you should take to prevent shredding, excess dirt, and wrinkling.
Where you place your rug, whether it is anchored by furniture, and the amount of sunlight and foot traffic it receives also figure into a rug’s lifespan. Here are ten ways to prolong the life of your area rug.
10. Use a Rug Pad
Once you decide on the size and style of your rug, use a pad to protect your tile or wood floor underneath it. A pad will help anchor the rug to the floor and prevent it from slipping. Anchoring the rug will also stop slips and floor accidents, especially if you have young children or place the rug in a well-traveled area of your home.
There are three types of rug pads for hardwood floors – non-slip, cushioned and cushioned/grip. Non-slip pads are perfect for hallways and stop bunching and wrinkling. Cushioned pads are great for rugs that are anchored by furniture, or luxurious rugs your family likes to use for sitting or relaxing. Cushion/grip pads provide safety and comfort.
Always choose non-PVC pads to prevent off-gassing and chemical discoloration or rug materials.
9. Rotate the Rug
Rotate your rug a few times a year to minimize wear, especially if you’ve placed it a high traffic area. Too many feet (and too many spills, or dirt tracked in from outdoors) will dull the color and compress fibers.
If you rotate a rug that’s been placed under a chair, desk or other pieces of furniture for a long time and discover leg indentations in the material, there’s an easy fix for that. Put an ice cube in each notch. When the cubes melt (and dry), the affected areas will be level again.
8. Have Your Rug Professionally Cleaned
Every other year (or as needed) invest in a professional rug cleaning for larger, more luxurious rugs. A service specializing in deep cleaning uses special products made for treating the delicate fibers of luxury area rugs. Most cleaning companies will pick up your rug, clean it, and reinstall it.
The carpet and rug cleaning products sold in stores and online may be too harsh for some area rugs. If you want to deep clean your rugs on your own, check the manufacturer’s care instructions or use a safe, gentle cleaning solution.
7. Vacuum Your Rug
Vacuum the top of your rug once a week, twice a week if it’s well-used. Be sure to flip the rug over and vacuum the underside to get rid of any ground-in dirt a few times a year.
Don’t use a vacuum with a beater bar. It can damage face yarns and ruin the rug’s pile. For a thick-foundation rug, vacuum sideways across the direction of the pile and the width of the rug. Use an upholstery or standard vacuum attachment to vacuum these types of rugs.
Use an upholstery attachment and vacuum in the direction of the pile on thin-foundation rugs with high piles. On thin foundation rugs with low piles, vacuum across the rug width using an upholstery attachment.
6. Protect From Moths
Moths in your home damage more than clothes. Although these flying insects may seem harmless, they can destroy your area rug. Grown moths don’t inflict the damage. Instead, it’s the larva that eats up the pile.
Moths lay their eggs in dark corners of the rug or areas obscured by furniture. Regular rotation and at least occasional exposure to light will prevent moths from damaging your area rugs. Treat your rugs a few times a year with something like pyrethrum, a safe insecticide made from dried chrysanthemum flower extract.
5. Choose Your Rug Placement Wisely
Place your rugs where they will complement your rooms, but also be aware of traffic patterns, dirt, and debris. Put less expensive area rugs in hallways and mudrooms, and save the hand-knotted or silk rugs for your living room or den.
4. Keep Your Home Clean
Prolong the life of your area rug by keeping your house as clean as possible. Use doormats at all entrances and make sure family and guests use them. You may even want family and friends to take off their shoes once inside, though this may be a bit too intrusive for some folks.
Clean up after pets and use a gate to keep rambunctious pets away from delicate rugs and furniture when you are away from home.
3. Clean Spills
Blot any spills as soon as you can with a clean white cloth until the cloth is no longer stained. Don’t rub the stain. It will drive the liquid deeper into the rug fibers.
You can clean most spots with clear dishwashing liquid and warm water. Use one quarter-teaspoon of dishwashing detergent to a quart of warm water. Then, rinse with water and blot the area dry. Don’t bleach or dry clean rugs to get rid of spots or spills. Always make sure to check your rug’s label as different rug materials have different requirements.
2. Care for Special Rugs
Extend the life of your area rugs by following the directions on the rug tag. If there are no cleaning instructions, here are care tips for special rug types.
For hand-braided area rugs, place towels or an old blanket on a vinyl or concrete floor. Put the rug on top of the blanket or towel, and rub a commercial carpet cleaner into the rug with a sponge. Rinse the rug with lukewarm water and let it dry completely while lying on dry towels or blankets.
Sprinkle talcum powder onto sheepskin or fur rugs, and let it stay for a few hours. Brush it through with an old hairbrush. Take the rug outside and shake the debris out of it. Repeat the process until the rug is fresh-smelling and clean.
Put a nylon screen over antique or expensive hand knotted rugs. Use a nozzle vacuum attachment to brush debris out of the rug, using the screen as a protective shield. If you have access to the rug-maker or seller, ask them for additional cleaning tips.
1. Other Maintenance Tips
Take small area rugs outdoors to shake dust and debris out of them as needed, especially if you own a pet.
Check your rug occasionally to see if it needs a professional cleaning. Vacuum the rug then rub a finger in a short arc on a section of the rug for ten seconds. If there’s dirt on your finger, the rug needs a professional cleaning.
Alternatively, you can examine the foundation of the rug by pulling apart the pile. If dirt has been absorbed into the weft and warp, you’ll need to deep clean the rug. Once debris has lodged way back where a vacuum won’t lift up particles, it’s time for a professional cleaning.