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How to Clean an Area Rug at Home

area rug in dining room
August 30, 2022

There is no doubt that area rugs are fundamental and essential elements of home decor. They are a great finishing touch to every room. However, as with all other items in your home, area rugs need proper care if you want them to look nice and last for a long time. And it's not simply about vacuuming them on a regular basis.

Area rugs tend to gather dust, dirt, grime, and pet hair over time, making them less appealing. Not to mention mould and pet urine stains, which can not only ruin the beauty of your rugs but may also be harmful to your health. That is why, in addition to regular vacuuming, it is crucial that you give your area rugs a deep clean periodically, especially if you have pets.

Professional rug cleaning is one of the best ways to keep your area rugs looking bright, clean, and spotless. At Crystal Carpet Cleaners we can help you regardless of whether you need stain removal, deep area rug cleaning, or cleaning of modern or oriental rugs. Get in touch with us today and receive a free quote on any of our services including professional carpet cleaning in London.

However, if you still want to tackle this job on your own, here are a few tips that may help you.

How to clean an area rug at home?

clean area rug in living room

First and foremost, regardless of the type of rug you have, it is critical that you provide basic maintenance for it. This means you should vacuum the entire rug on a regular basis, shake it outside, if possible, and turn it once or twice a year. In addition to these cares, it is essential that you give your rug a deep clean at least once a year. Of course, if you have a pet, you should do it more often.

Even if you can handle deep cleaning on your own, keep in mind that it might be a bit tricky process. Because area rugs come in a variety of materials, you must first determine which type you are dealing with. They can be woven, antique, or oriental and each of which requires different care. You must carefully choose a cleaning product that is appropriate for the rug's material, otherwise, you risk damaging the fibres.

Second, if there are stubborn stains on your rug, such as pet urine stains, then it might be difficult to get rid of them without having specialized techniques and skills. If not removed immediately, pet stains can penetrate deep into the rug fibers. As a result, they cannot be easily broken down just by using commercial cleaners.

That is why, when it comes to deep cleaning an area rug, it is better to call a professional cleaning service. They will inspect your rug and determine the most suitable cleaning approach. They know exactly what techniques and solutions to use to remove any dust, dirt, and stains from your rug. They will also ensure that your rug is dry completely at the end of the cleaning process. Hiring pros can save you a significant amount of time and effort.

Taking the time to vacuum and getting professional cleaning services on regular basis can ensure that your area rugs will be around and look great for a long time to come.

How to maintain your area rugs?

Whatever type of area rug you have, it will require some basic care such as regular vacuuming, shaking, and rotating every year.

Vacuum your rugs regularly

Vacuum cleaning a area rug on the floor

In general, you need to vacuum your rugs based on their use frequency. You must vacuum them frequently enough to keep dirt to an absolute minimum. If the rug is in a rarely used room, it simply has to be vacuumed on occasion. Rugs placed in high-traffic areas, such as an entrance from the outdoors, may need to be vacuumed a few times a week.

The problem most people have with vacuuming is not that they do not do it often enough. It is that they do it much too quickly. Dirt tends to get way down into the rug's pile and a quick back and forth over it won't work this out. You need to move the vacuum very slowly back and forth over small areas at a time.

Some dirt in the rug may also work its way through and settle between the rug and the pad, or even worst, between the pad and the floor underneath. This can cause irreversible harm to your flooring. Whenever it is possible, you should lift the rug while vacuuming and sweep out any dirt that has settled beneath it.

Use baking soda as a rug cleaner

Baking soda with detergent

Baking soda is an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way to clean area rugs at home. It can help remove dirt, kill germs, get rid of odours, and revive the rug fragrance. Furthermore, pure baking soda is usually safe for most types of rugs.

All you need to do is to sprinkle baking soda on the entire surface of the rug and leave it for one to two hours. Then simply run your vacuum machine and clean the residue. If you want, you can also leave the baking soda to act overnight and remove it in the morning.

When using this cleaning method, be careful not to splatter too much baking soda because it can clog your vacuum's filters and eventually damage the machine.

Shake your area rug outside

If your rug isn't too large, and you can handle it, you might want to shake it vigorously outside. You may also leave it out in the sun for a couple of hours. This way, your rug will have the opportunity to air out, which can be especially helpful if you live in an area with an excess of moisture. Also, shaking your rugs outside is a great way to remove dirt, dust, and pet hair that has settled between the fibres.

Rotate your area rug once a year

Rotating your area rugs is another crucial aspect of regular upkeep. Foot traffic and sunlight tend to wear and fade your rugs. Moving similar rugs between two rooms or even just spinning a rug 180 degrees can lessen the effects of wear and fading by distributing it over more of the rug's area.

How to deep-clean an area rug?

manual deep rug cleaning

It is always best to hire professionals when it comes to deep cleaning. However, if you do decide to handle this task yourself, there are certain steps you need to follow in order to accomplish it safely and efficiently. Here, we will give you some tips on how to clean an area rug on your own.

Examine your area rug

Before you begin the actual area rug cleaning, it is critical that you examine the care label to see what it recommends. Some small area rugs can be simply washed in a washing machine on a delicate cycle. Others may need to be cleaned manually, while others should be dry-cleaned.

It is also important to keep in mind that there are some types of rugs, such as those made of natural fibers as well as Antique, Oriental and Persian rugs, that are best to leave in the hands of professionals instead of tackling them yourself. The reason is that they are more delicate and may be damaged if not cleaned properly.

So, if your area rug is machine-washable, simply throw it in your washing machine and use the appropriate program. If you want to clean your area rugs by hand, then check the methods below.

Spray your rugs with a garden hose

This is a fairly simple and easy way to clean your area rugs. However, this method will only work if you live in a house and have enough garden space. The equipment and materials you will need to tackle this job include a vacuum cleaner, soft-bristle brush, liquid dish soap solution, cleaning detergent, and rug shampoo. Then follow the steps below.

  • Place your rug flat in your garden on a clean surface (you can lay a tarp or nylon screen in advance to prevent it from sitting directly on your garden surface).
  • Vacuum your area rug well on both sides to eliminate as much dust as you can. Then rinse it down by using a hose.
  • Make a liquid dish soap solution (warm water and mild dish soap) or get a rug shampoo and start to gently rub the rug surface using the brush.
  • Pass through the entire rug surface and leave the solution to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse your area rug off with the hose and then try to as much excess water as you can.
  • Hang the wet rug over a fence and let it air dry.
  • When the rug is completely dry you can use a fabric spray to make it smell even better.

It is important to note that you should not use this cleaning method on oriental rugs, ornamental rugs, antique area rugs, designer rugs, or very expensive rugs. Also, if you use a commercial cleaning solution, always test it on a tiny area first before applying it to the entire rug surface.

Steam clean area rugs - DIY

If you have a large rug which you cannot move outside, then you can clean it using a steam cleaner. There are various kinds of machines you can rent, ranging from small lightweight to large cleaners. For this project, you will also need stain remover and carpet shampoo suitable for your rug, gloves, and clean towels or a clean cloth. Then follow the steps outlined below.

  • Give your rug a good vacuum before you start steam cleaning.
  • Apply a stain remover and then using a cloth or dry towels, wipe the solution into the middle.
  • Add warm or cold water (check the instructions) to the machine's tank.
  • Then put a carpet shampoo (or another cleaner) into the reservoir and you are ready to start the actual cleaning.
  • Run the machine and clean the rug using long slow strokes.
  • Let the rug completely dry before you put it back in its place.

Steam cleaning is normally very effective in removing dust, dirt, residue as well as various stains. However, you must make sure that your rug is suitable for such kind of cleaning. For example, it might be not a good idea to steam clean an Oriental rug. They are typically coloured with vegetable dye which may easily fade when using wet cleaning techniques.

Get rid of rug stains

Professional carpet cleaning services are usually great at removing various types of spots from rugs and carpets. However, there are some DIY cleaning options that in some cases may help you achieve good results. Here is what you can do to remove stains from your area rug.

  • Coffee, tea, alcohol, and soft drinks stains. You can treat such stains with a homemade cleaning solution. To make it, you will need 1L of warm water, a half tablespoon of liquid dish soap and a few drops of white vinegar. Combine all the ingredients and apply the mixture to the affected areas. Make sure not to use too much of the solution or to the point where it soaks through to the carpet and the floor underneath. Allow your DIY cleaner to sit for a couple of minutes, and then rinse and blot dry the excess water.
  • Greasy and food stains. For such kinds of stains, it might be better to use a commercial carpet cleaning solution. There are numerous options on the market, ranging from powders to liquids, sprays, and foam. When shopping for a carpet cleaner, be sure it is appropriate for your type of rug. Keep in mind that many products include harsh chemicals that can harm the rug fiber. Always start with a tiny area. The other thing you need to look for is a cleaner that is formulated specifically to remove oily or food stains. Be sure to follow strictly the label directions.
  • Pet urine stains. These are some of the most difficult stains to deal with, especially when they have been sitting on the rug for longer. DIY and commercial cleaning solutions are frequently ineffective at removing pet urine stains. Furthermore, using standard carpet shampoo and hot water may activate the bacteria in the urine that causes a bad odor and spread it throughout your home. Hiring expert cleaners is usually the best approach to get rid of pet urine stains and odors.

How to clean specific types of rugs?

different types of area rugs in store

Area rugs can vary in size, style, and material. There are natural fiber rugs, such as those made of sisal or wool, as well as synthetic fibers rugs, which are made of nylon, polypropylene, and polyester. While synthetic rugs might be easily washed or steam cleaned, the rugs made of natural material usually require special cleaning care.

How to clean wool rugs?

  • You should regularly vacuum your wool rug in the direction of the pile.
  • You should address any spills right away to prevent staining. Get a dry cloth and firmly press into the stain to help lift it up. Do not rub the stain.
  • Call a professional carpet cleaning company if you have to remove stubborn stains from wool rugs.

How to clean cotton rugs?

  • Cotton rugs, like any other kind of rugs, require frequent vacuuming.
  • Some small rugs made of cotton can be simply cleaned in the washing machine by using gentle laundry detergent and cool water.
  • You can also wash these kinds of rugs with the help of a garden hose
  • They can be also steam cleaned or spot cleaned.

Frequently asked questions

How to clean a large area rug?

If your area rug can be steam cleaned, then you can rent a steam cleaner machine and tackle the job yourself. If you have to deal with any special type of material such as a wool rug, sisal or rush rugs then it is better to call a professional carpet cleaning company.

How often do you need to clean your area rugs?

Ideally, you should vacuum the rugs in your home two times a week. You also need to give them a deep clean once a year, even if they are not visibly dirty.

How to clean outdoor rugs?

You can clean your outdoor rug with a garden hose, dish soap and soft-bristled brush. If the rug is very dirty you can hire professional cleaners to do the job for you.

How to clean a shag rug?

Shag rugs typically come with specific cleaning instructions. Make sure to check them and use the recommended technique. To clean stains you can use a dry shampoo. If there are any stubborn spots you may want to hire expert cleaners to deal with them. When it comes to vacuuming, it is best to use a machine which is specifically designed for a shaggy rug.

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