How To Spot Clean An Area Rug

spot clean rug

Take good care of your rug by cleaning it fully every so often. When you clean the rest of your house, make sure to vacuum your rug. But what about when a spot pops up or you have a spill? When you need to only clean a portion of your rug, you can spot clean with these effective techniques.

Our best advice? Act fast when you spot clean. Try to get the stain while it’s still wet for best results. With these tricks, you can clean a spot on your rug very quickly without having to spend time cleaning the entire rug. How you spot clean will depend on what you need to clean, but here are the best tips for spot cleaning a rug.

The First Thing You Should Always Do

As soon as you notice a stain, no matter where it came from, clean it while it’s still wet. This will give you a much better chance of removing the stain completely. Always act fast by starting with water and blotting the spot. To avoid spreading the stain, don’t rub the towel into the carpet. To blot properly, start at the outside of the stain and blot toward the middle of the stain.

You want to avoid damaging your rug, so try water first because it is completely harmless and won’t damage the rug. If water doesn’t work, test whatever solution you plan to use on a small portion of the rug to make sure it doesn’t stain your rug even worse.

If you have an area rug, here is a complete guide to cleaning area rugs.

How To Clean Water-Based Stains

Any water-based stain should be able to be removed with just water and a towel. Water-based stains include alcoholic beverages, soda, berries, pet accidents, food dye, milk, dirt, washable ink, and latex paint. Cleaning one of these water-based stains does require some patience, but it is well worth it to avoid using harsh chemicals or other damaging substances that could further ruin your carpet. As mentioned previously, water is the least invasive substance, so if you can get your stain or spill out with water, definitely do so.

In order to get water-based stains out with just water, start by blotting from the outside of the stain toward the middle with a wet towel. Next, blot with a dry towel. Repeat by blotting with a wet towel again and then again with the dry towel. You may need to repeat many times, but this spot cleaning trick is tried and true.

How To Remove Sticky Stains From Wool Rugs

Sticky stains are tricky, particularly on wool rugs. What happens if you get gum or wax stuck in your wool carpet? You may think it’s a lost cause, but this technique for removing sticky stains, like gum or wax, works like a charm.

Once again, you want to act fast. First, place some ice cubes in a plastic bag and hold the bag of ice up to the spill. This will harden the sticky substance. Acting fast keeps the stain somewhat on the surface of the carpet. If you leave that gum in the carpet too long it will sink into the wool and get even more stuck. Once the spill is hardened, use a spoon to scrape the stain out of the carpet. If there is any remaining residue, you can blot the spot with rubbing alcohol. Again, be sure to spot test this to make sure it won’t damage your rug. Rubbing alcohol should work just fine on a wool rug to remove any leftover residue.

How To Remove Alkaline and Acidic Spills From Area Rugs

Alkaline spills include stains like cat urine or beer. These are perhaps two of the most common stains you may find on your rug. If you want additional advice on helping your rug coexist with your four-legged friend, here is a great guide.  If water doesn’t work on these kinds of stains, try soapy water. If the stain still persists, the best solution is white vinegar. White vinegar is a mild acid that can neutralize alkaline spills. Mix a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water and blot the spot, again working from the outer edge of the stain toward the center. After using vinegar, blot with a dry towel and then rinse. Repeat this technique until the spot is removed. You can also add the vinegar solution to a spray bottle and spray the spot, then blot dry and rinse.

Acidic stains include ketchup, cough syrup, mixed drinks, soy sauce, and watercolor paint. If you have a wool rug, only use water. Ammonia works great for removing acidic stains because ammonia is an alkali and neutralizes acidic stains, but you never want to use ammonia on a wool rug because it will damage the fiber. For other rugs, you can mix one tablespoon of ammonia with a half cup of water. Blot the stain with water, scrape away the solids with a spoon, add the ammonia solution to a spray bottle and spot clean the affected area, blot with a dry towel, and rinse. If the stain persists, add soapy water. When using ammonia to clean, be sure to ventilate the room, as ammonia is toxic.

How To Spot Clean Natural Fiber Rugs

NF874B from Natural Fiber .5 by Safavieh

Natural fiber rugs, like sisal, coir, or jute require a different spot cleaning technique from most other rugs. Begin with warm, soapy water. Use a small brush and warm, soapy water to scrub at the stain. Rinse the spot with water and use a dry towel to blot dry. Water weakens the natural fibers on these kinds of rugs, so only apply the warm, soapy water to the affected area. Try not to spread the water around when your rinse the spot out. Be sure to dry quickly and effectively to get all of the water out.

When cleaning a natural fiber rug, you want to make sure to protect the flooring underneath. Use a plastic sheet or cutting board underneath the rug to prevent damage to your floor. Repeat this technique until the stain is removed, while trying to minimize the use of water to avoid making the stain worse.

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