Who doesn’t love area rugs … those beautiful little works of art that bring color, cohesiveness, and comfort to our homes? We integrate rugs into almost all of our designs, and we do get a lot of questions from our clients regarding proper rug care. So today we decided to gather our tips and tricks for the care and cleaning of rugs to share with you all.
Basic Care of Your Area Rugs
A rug’s size, its construction, and the materials from which it’s made will all determine the best way to clean it. Most rugs should be cleaned similar to the way you clean your carpets, which means that most area rugs benefit from the following care routine:
- Vacuum large area rugs to remove dirt: As with carpet, regular vacuuming is the most important cleaning step you can take. If a rug is reversible, remember to vacuum both sides. Vacuuming removes grit and grime that can prematurely wear out your rug. But be careful not to vacuum any fringe edges, and be sure to disable the ‘beater bar’ when vacuuming a shag rug to prevent tangling those long fibers.
- Brush out pet hair: A vacuum will sometimes leave pet hair behind; just use a stiff brush to remove the hair, and always brush in the direction of the nap of the rug.
- Turn rugs every year: Turn your rugs once or twice per year to even out the wear from foot traffic (wear and tear) and sunshine (fading).
- Shake small area rugs: If your rug is small enough, you can take it outside and shake it or beat it vigorously to remove the dirt and grit.
How to Clean Sisal, Rush, Grass & Coir Rugs
- These rugs are made from natural fibers that feature an open weave, allowing dirt to sift through to the floor beneath; they are popular as welcome mats and in mudrooms. Vacuum them frequently, and don’t forget to remove the rug occasionally to vacuum underneath. Many of these rugs are reversible, so flip them each time you vacuum for more even wear.
- To clean stains or discolorations on a large natural-fiber rug:
- First protect the floor beneath it with a plastic drop cloth and towel.
- Scrub the stains with a soft brush dipped in soapy water.
- Rinse with clear water.
- Place a towel over the wet area and blot the spot as dry as possible. You can use a portable fan or hair dryer to speed drying.
- Water weakens the fibers, so work quickly and dry thoroughly to extend the life of these rugs.
- To clean small rugs, move to a protected table or countertop to clean, following the instructions above.
- Some natural fiber rugs are constructed in squares that are sewn together. If possible, buy a few extra squares or a smaller size of the same rug. Then, if the rug square becomes irrevocably stained, clip the threads that hold it in place and replace it with a new square. You can hand-stitch the square in place with heavy-duty carpet thread.
How to Clean Woven or Braided Rugs
- Check your rug for stitching breaks before and after cleaning; repair, if needed, to prolong the life of your rug.
- Check the rug’s label to determine whether small braided rugs are machine washable. If they are, simply place them in a zippered pillowcase or mesh laundry bag, wash in cool water on a gentle cycle, and then rinse thoroughly. You can then tumble dry on a low setting.
- To clean larger braided rugs:
- First, place them on a vinyl or concrete floor – or place an old blanket beneath them.
- Sponge a commercial rug cleaning foam over the surface and rub it in according to the product directions.
- Then finish by rinsing or vacuuming.
- Dry thoroughly before replacing the rug on your floor.
How to Clean Hand-Knotted, Antique, and Oriental Rugs
- Antique and Persian runners are popular choices in kitchens and other high-traffic areas, so they might need more attention than your other rugs.
- You should rotate these rugs regularly to ensure even wear, as direct exposure to the sun will cause fading.
- Vacuum an Oriental rug as you would carpet and wool area rugs.
- Use special care with delicate vintage or antique rugs.
- Protect delicate rugs from the vacuum by placing a piece of nylon screen over the rug, weighing it down with books or bricks, and then vacuuming over the screen.
- Alternately, try tying a piece of nylon mesh (you can find these in craft stores) over the vacuum attachment to offer protection to a delicate rug. Be sure to change the mesh frequently as dirt accumulates.
- Have your hand-knotted, antique or Oriental rugs professionally cleaned once per year.
How to Clean Fur, Sheepskin, and Hair-on Hides
- Shake unscented talcum powder on fur, sheepskin, and hair-on-hide rugs, and leave for several hours.
- Brush the talcum powder through the hair, and then shake it out.
- Repeat this process several times, depending on the length of the fur.
- To clean the back of the rug, use a clean cotton cloth dipped in lukewarm soapy water, and wipe off any dirt or spills. Rinse with a cloth dipped in clean water and allow to dry completely before putting back in place.
How to Remove Different Types of Stains from Rugs
Time is always of the essence when a rug becomes stained. Please remember to blot (not rub!) the stain and try to remove moisture from spills as quickly as possible.
- Alcohol and soft drinks: Mix together 1-quart warm water, 1 tsp liquid dish detergent, and 1/4 tsp white vinegar. Apply to the stain, then rinse and blot dry.
- Coffee or tea: Use the detergent mix above. Apply to the stain, rinse, and blot dry. If a stain remains, use a commercial spot carpet cleaner.
- Fat-based stains: For foods such as butter, margarine, or gravy, use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaner.
- Gum: First peel off whatever you can. Next, put a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and place on top of the remaining gum to harden it. You should then be able to scrape the gum off with a spoon or dull knife. Afterward, vacuum and use a dry-solvent spot cleaner if needed.
- Paint: For acrylic and latex paint, spot-clean with the detergent solution while the paint is still wet. If color remains, dab with rubbing alcohol. For oil-based paint, sponge with odorless mineral spirits, being careful not to allow it to soak through to the backing.
- Tomato sauce: Sponge up the sauce with cool water, then dab with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse with a solution of 1-cup white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Blot until dry.
- Urine, feces, and vomit: Apply detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner, rinse, and blot until dry.
- Melted wax: Use the same treatment as gum, hardening it with ice cubes in a plastic bag and scraping. Then dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot to remove any wax residue.
We hope these tips will help you care for the rugs in your home so that you can enjoy them for many years to come! Do you need help choosing area rugs or any other design elements for your home’s interior spaces? Give the team at AHT Interiors a call at (770) 887-7612.
Images by AHT Interiors.