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How to Clean a Rug by Hand

person cleaning a rug with vacuum cleaner at home
February 23, 2023

Used primarily for decoration, rugs can add beauty to your place and set the tone of any room. They can also keep your feet warm during the cold days and absorb sound helping with the soundproofing of your home. 

However, they are also a source of dirt and dust mites which contribute to allergies. Because most of them are too big to fit in the washing machine, you have to wash them by hand and this is a major nuisance.

Washing your rug can be quite challenging if you are looking for a low-cost solution and you don't want to hire a carpet cleaning agency. But worry not. If you need guidance and cleaning tips, we can deliver. Read on to find out how you can clean a rug at home without damaging it.

Key Takeaways on How to Clean a Rug by Hand

  • Before you start washing your rug, read the manufacturer’s label to see what cleaning techniques are allowed
  • Your cleaning method should be tailored to the type of rug you own
  • Before you use any cleaning solution on your carpet, you should test a small area of the rug that is not visible
  • Every stain should be treated differently, the rule goes that ‘like dissolves like’
  • For most stains, you can use mild liquid soap, baking soda, and water
  • If your rug is small enough to fit into the washing machine, use the coldest setting and the shortest cycle to wash it
  • After you wash or steam clean your rug, don’t let that moisture in for too long, hang the rug outside so it can air dry completely

What Tools and Supplies Do I Need to Clean an Area Rug at Home?

person holding cleaning materials in a bucket
  1. Rubber gloves
  2. Water
  3. Bucket
  4. Rug shampoo or mild dish soap
  5. Wet-dry vacuum / steam cleaner
  6. Garden hose
  7. Clean sponge or soft-bristled brush
  8. Hydrogen peroxide
  9. Baking soda
  10. White vinegar or any vinegar variety
  11. Clean towels and cloths

How Do You Clean Area Rugs Made from Fibers like Jute?

Jute rugs can sometimes be difficult to clean. For starters, you should vacuum your jute rug regularly to remove loose debris and prevent grime from setting in.

Second, you can steam clean it. Steam cleaning is a great method of cleaning and disinfecting upholstery and carpets thanks to the power of the heat. Although it is not suitable for all types of rugs and carpets, it is good for most of them.

We do advise that you check the label of your item to ensure it can be steam cleaned. Too much moisture might damage the fabric. We also recommend you use the lowest setting of your steam cleaning machine. And don’t let the moisture sit on the rug for too long.

Small pieces can be tossed in the washing machine. Be careful, though. Resort to gentle cycles and cold water. Needless to say, before you do a full cycle, you should check the washing instructions on the label to see if it's machine-washable.

For spots and stains, use a mixture of one part water and one part vinegar. Apply to the stain and make sure it doesn’t spread into other areas. Dab the rug until you get the stain out.

If you are faced with a wine stain, it’s wiser to use hydrogen peroxide on it. Dip a cloth into the chemical and blot the stain with it.

How Do You Deep Clean an Interior Rug?

The first step is to vacuum the whole rug to lift any loose grime, food particles, pet dander, and hair. Apply a cleaning solution all over the fabric. You can get a store-bought cleaner specifically formulated for your rug type or make your own mixture by combining warm water with mild dish soap. If you have a yard or a balcony, take the rug outside.

Take a soft sponge and rub it into the fibres to spread the solution evenly. You should see suds forming. Once you are done, let the rug sit a bit so that the solution can work its magic. As you go back to it in a few minutes, rinse the rug with water using a garden hose.

The last step is to allow the rug to dry. Lay it flat on the ground. You can lay some thick towels on top of it to remove excess moisture. When you make sure the rug has dried at the top side, don’t forget to rotate your rug over to allow the back of the rug to dry as well.

When the rug is completely dry, bring it inside and vacuum it all over again to fix the fibres that may have become tangled during the washing.

How Often Should I Clean Area Rugs?

For the most part, area rugs should be washed once every 12-18 months to remove deeply ingrained soils. It is not recommended that you do this very often, as it may damage the fabric and reduce the lifespan of your item. The frequency of cleaning will depend on the foot traffic and your lifestyle. If you have kids or pets, you may need to wash your rugs twice a year. If you don't want to damage your rug or carpet, you can use our professional rug cleaning service in London.

Cleaning Different Kinds of Rug Stains

Sometimes, as careful as you try to be accidents can happen. You should know that different stains require different approaches. The rule of thumb is that ‘like dissolves like.’ If you don't know which products to use for the stain at hand, consult our blog or take a look down below for more details.

How to remove pet stains from a rug

You can use an enzyme cleaner for pet stains. Or you can make a solution of 2 cups water, ½ cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon dish detergent. Spread the mixture evenly over the stain with a sponge. Begin blotting and repeat until you get rid of the spot.

How to remove red wine stains from a rug

Combine 1 part dishwashing liquid with 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. Before you get started, you want to test the solution on an inconspicuous area of the fabric. If no discolouration occurs, you can proceed to clean the wine stain. Apply the mixture to the targeted area and start blotting using a clean white cloth. Repeat until you remove the stain.

How to remove coffee stains from a rug

To clean coffee stains from rugs, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, and two cups of warm water. Stir well. Next, take a clean cloth and dip it in the concoction. Now, blot the rug starting from the edges and moving inward. Repeat as many times as necessary.

The Best Way to Clean Shag Rugs

Shag rugs are best cleaned with a dry carpet shampoo. These come with special compounds that can loosen and lift stains. All you have to do is apply the powder to the fabric and spread it evenly with the help of a soft brush. Let it sit overnight. On the next day, vacuum the remaining product.

If the shag rug is heavily soiled, you want to try steam cleaning. Not only will it remove all the grime stuck inside the fibres but it can disinfect and refresh the fabric. We have an entire guide on how to clean a shag rug, so be sure to check it out for more details. 

For more information about average cost, check out our guide on how much to clean a rug.


Can a doormat go in the washing machine?

Yes, as long as it is not too big. Make sure to shake off any loose dirt before you throw it into the machine. Apply some detergent to the item and let it sit for a while before you wash it at 30 degrees.

Can you wash a rug in the bathtub?

Yes, of course. This is a great way to go if your rug should only be washed by hand, as directed by the manufacturer. Be sure to check the label before you take your rug to the bathroom.

What is the best homemade carpet cleaner?

It depends on what you are looking for. If you need a dry cleaning product, you can make one by mixing ½ of cornstarch, 2 cups of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of borax, and ½ of cornmeal. You may also add a teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir it well to make a good concoction.

Feel free to use a blender to get the job done, then transfer the contents to an airtight container. To use this mixture, simply apply it to the desired area and let it sit overnight so it can do its thing. Before you get started, test a small area first to ensure the mixture doesn't discolour the rug.

Can you shampoo an area rug on a hardwood floor?

Yes, you can. Certain fabrics can tolerate shampooing and moisture. You might also steam clean the area rug - check out our post on how to clean an area rug at home for more details.

How to clean wool and cotton rugs

If you have a cotton or wool rug, use a mild detergent and a soft sponge to clean it. To remove residue, add some white vinegar to the water. Before you leave it to air dry, lay out thick towels on top of the item to remove as much water as you can.

Can you put rugs in the washer?

You can wash both cotton and synthetic rugs in the washing machine as long as you use cold water. You want to go with cold water. Also, it’s not recommended to wash them too often.

Can you put rugs in the dryer?

It should be okay to tumble dry your rugs but you should choose the lowest and coldest setting possible so as not to ruin the fabric.

And this wraps up our area rug cleaning guide. Now you know how to clean a rug or carpet by hand. We hope you find these tips helpful. If you need your rugs professionally cleaned, don't forget that you can count on us - we offer the best prices for rug and carpet cleaning in London.

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