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How To Clean A Wool Rug At Home: 9 Tips & Tricks

how to clean wool rug at home
February 21, 2024

A new wool rug is nothing like your ordinary carpets and rugs. It's probably hand-dyed and hand-woven and the dies themselves are made of natural materials like flowers, insects, and spices.

This renders wool overly delicate and prone to damage. That’s why the majority of cleaning methods aren’t effective and should altogether be avoided. In this post, we’ll give you a rundown on how to clean a wool rug at home: what to do and what not to do.

Key Takeaways

  • When it comes to cleaning wool rugs, there are some dos and don’ts that you need to be aware of
  • The majority of cleaning techniques that you normally employ on other materials can ruin wool, so you should stay away from them
  • Regular vacuuming is the way to go when you need to remove dirt from the entire rug
  • It is safe to power wash your wool rugs and carpets but always read the label first
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, bleaches, and hot water
  • Steam cleaning is not recommended either
  • It's best to hire professional rug cleaners for your wool rug

How to Clean a Wool Rug: Tips & Tricks

vacuum cleaning a rug

 1. Always run a vacuum cleaner on both sides of the wool rug

For regular cleaning, you need a vacuum cleaner with a rotating brush. Lay the rug flat and focus on both sides of the fabric. This should also be the first step you implement before you start deep cleaning your wool rug. It will remove any loose dirt so you can easily get rid of the remaining grime.

Don’t worry, the suction motion is not going to damage the fibres because it’s not as powerful as the suction motion from a heavy-duty carpet cleaner. Just make sure to focus on the top of the wool area rug. Also, if you are working on a wool rug with fringed edges, you may want to avoid the edges unless you are equipped with an upholstery attachment.

Regular vacuuming is an important part of the process that should be done every week or so, regardless of whether the fabric receives a lot of foot traffic or not. It can reduce the frequency of deep cleaning sessions.

2. Power washing the wool carpet on a lower setting is okay

The best way to agitate the dirt out of the fabric without damaging the material is to man-wash your wool rugs and carpets.

Since you don’t have specialised agitators available only to professional cleaners, your best bet is to use a power wash or a hose to get the job done. It's vital to stick with cold water all the way through. Always go above and beyond to dry the fabric after that.

3. Do not use a carpet cleaning machine to clean your wool rug at home

While steam cleaner and hot water extraction machines are great for the majority of carpets, they are not suitable for wool rugs when you need a deeper clean.

For one, wool does not tolerate well the suction motion. Not to mention, it doesn't hold well with lots of moisture and heat - remember that the water, which is infused into the fabric, is hot. Too much moisture might cause mould and musty smells, which will get your clean rugs nasty.

4. Always let mud dry before you get your wool rugs clean

If mud finds its way onto your rug, the worst thing you can do is to try to get it off immediately. Instead, you should wait until it dries before you proceed to any cleaning.

All you need is the dull edge of a knife or a spatula. This will help you loosen the stain. Then, you can vacuum like you normally would.

5. Give it a good wool rug shake

Another way to dislodge dirt embedded in the fabric is to give the wool carpet a good shake outdoors. Take the piece to your yard or balcony, lay it on a porch railing or something and beat it with a broom handle, beater bar or rug beater. We would like to point out that this tip applies to small rugs.

6. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or bleach to clean your wool rug

It’s not difficult to imagine why hydrogen peroxide isn’t the best option for wool. Even though it has bleaching properties that can eliminate stains, it’s precisely its bleaching nature that is the problem.

Not only does it cause discolouration but it can eat away at the wool fibers. The same goes for ammonia, chlorine bleach, and oxygen bleach. If you need a deep clean, consider other options.

7. Do not pair baking soda with white vinegar

Baking soda may be great at removing bad odours in other parts of the house but when using it on wool rugs, it offers no benefits whatsoever. Vinegar, on the other hand, can help you deep clean the fabric but just don't mix them together.

8. Don't rub

If you are dealing with a fresh stain, don’t rub it in because this will help it set faster. What you can do is blot any liquid with clean paper towels to prevent it from spreading further. If there are any solids, lift them with a spatula.

9. Only use cold water to wash your wool rug

Hot water and wool rugs don’t go together because this can bleed the fabric. As mentioned above, wool rugs are usually made from natural dies and they can easily run when exposed to hot liquids. You may not notice it at first but it will become obvious after a while. Over time, the patterns will begin to blend.

If you're wondering about the average pricing, check out our cost guide on how much to clean a rug in UK.

How to Remove Pet Urine from Wool Rugs

For pet stains like urine, you have to act as quickly as possible. The more you wait, the faster it will soak into the rug's fibers. Remember that wool rugs tend to hold their weight in water several times. You want to avoid cat or dog urine from sinking in and drying because it will be difficult to get rid of it after that.

So, what you want to do is blot up the liquid as soon as it occurs. Next, you should grab a clean sponge and submerge it in soapy water. Now run it through the treatment area starting from the edges and working your way inward. When you are finished, dab gently with a clean cloth. Leave it outside to air dry.

Another way to go is to resort to vinegar. Mix one part of distilled white vinegar to six parts of cool water and then transfer it into a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Finish off by blotting the liquid with a damp cloth followed by a dry cloth to absorb as much moisture as possible.

If you notice any lingering smells, sprinkle a little bit of baking soda. As we said earlier, baking soda should not be combined with vinegar. Instead, you should use it as a standalone cleaning solution only. Leave it on overnight. Vacuum it up first thing in the morning.

If nothing works, professional cleaning will come to your rescue.

Additional Tips on Cleaning Wool Carpets and Rugs

  • Even though it’s okay to wash your wool rugs with water, it’s essential to use just the right amount. Don't add more water than needed or esle you risk damaging the rug fibers in the rug cleaning process. You should not forget that excess moisture can cause mould and mildew issues. On that note, washing should always be followed up by good drying techniques.
  • If you happen to have pets, you will find tonnes of pet hair on the rug. To get rid of it, opt for a stiff brush. Always brush in the direction of the natural fibers.
  • This may seem like a weird tip but you can try to clean your wool floor coverings with some snow. It’s said to kill bacteria that cause unpleasant odours. Plus, it can loosen all the dirt.
  • Another wise thing to do is to periodically rotate your Persian rug, tufted wool rugs, oriental rugs and other rugs to ensure even wear.
  • To protect your wool rug from faster wear and tear, you can try a rug pad.
  • Keep in mind that a new carpet or wool rug can shed fibers. Don't worry, this is okay.

If you have carpet beetles in your rugs, you can read our guide on how to get rid of carpet beetles or give us a call and our cleaning solutions will take care of that for you!

FAQs on Cleaning a Wool Rug

How do you clean a wool rug UK?

The safest way of cleaning a wool rug is to use plain cold water and a wool-safe detergent or dry carpet shampoo. Make sure the fabric dries completely before you bring it back indoors.

Is it OK to steam clean your wool rug?

It’s not recommended to steam clean wool rugs. The high temperatures can bleed the fabric and cause irreversible damage.

Can you power wash a wool rug?

Yes, you can. Just make sure to read the instructions on the label first because some pieces are too delicate for a power wash and require a special rug cleaning solution.

How do you clean a white wool rug?

White wool rugs look amazing but they are a pain to clean. We do recommend you contact a professional cleaner for this one. But since you came here for tips on how to do the cleaning yourself, here are some things you can do.

If you are dealing with liquid spills, quickly blot up the liquid with a clean white towel or paper towels. Remove anything solid. You may use cold water and mild dish soap on stains but make sure to cover only the affected area. Do not use this solution on the entire wool rug. Keeping in mind that soap residue can trap dirt, don’t forget to rinse well and let dry completely.

How do you clean a vintage wool rug?

If you have a vintage wool rug, you should know that the majority of cleaning tools can ruin it, so it’s best to go with professional cleaners for this one. Do not steam clean a wool rug of this kind. Check out the manufacturer’s advice on cleaning and maintenance to save yourself some headaches down the road.

How do you remove stains from a wool rug?

Stubborn stains require a special wool detergent, rug shampoo, or a stain remover. Mix the solution with some water or use it directly onto the rug as directed by the label. Run a damp cloth over the area to spread the mixture. Don't rub because this will push the stain deeper into the fabric, making it worse. Mild dish soap might help with red wine stains and coffee stains.

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