Rugs need to be vacuumed regularly to ensure it looks its best. However, once a year, they should be deep-cleaned to maintain hygiene. Always consult your rug’s care label to see if it should be dry-cleaned, hand-washed, or only spot-cleaned.
Most rugs come with a care tag or instructions so you know exactly how it should be cleaned, but the good news is most area rugs can be cleaned without calling in the professionals. If the rug is small enough, you can wash the whole thing, but if it’s too large and unwieldy, a spot clean is a better choice.
- A vacuum
- A soft bristle brush
- Carpet shampoo or liquid dish soap (depending on your rug)
- A bucket
- A hose
Step 1: Remove All Excess Dirt / Vacuum
The first step to cleaning any rug is to vacuum. A thorough vacuum will help loosen up dirt and debris that can get in the way when you’re scrubbing. If you’re planning on taking the rug outside to clean, flip it over and vacuum the underside as well.
Step 2: Take It Outside (Optional)
If you decide to take the rug outside to clean, unroll it and prop it up on a fence or porch railing. With a broom, whack the back of the rug to see if more dirt comes out. Keep whacking the rug until you cannot see clouds of dust and dirt anymore. However, if your rug has a latex backing, do not whack it too hard, or it may damage the latex.
Step 3: Do a Spot Test
A mild dish detergent mixed with warm water is a safe cleaner for most rugs, but if you are hunting for something a little stronger, check your rug’s label to ensure your solution is safe. A small corner is a good place to spray and ensure that your rug’s colors won’t run and the cleaner won’t leave behind any discoloration.
Step 4: Scrub Visible Spots
With either a soft sponge or bristled brush, loosen up any caked-on stains. Then, create a lather with your cleaner. Once you start to see suds, let the cleaner sit on the carpet for a few minutes depending on the severity of your stain.
If you’re attacking a pet stain, you may want to keep your enzyme-based cleaner on for up to 30 minutes to eliminate any stubborn smells too.
Step 4: Rinse the Rug
If you are taking your rugs outdoors to clean, this step is simple. Using a garden hose or a large bucket of water, hose down the entire rug until all of the runoff is entirely clear. It does not only gets rid of excess chemicals on your rug but also has the added benefit of cleaning the rest of the piece at the same time.
For indoor spot cleaning, blot the carpet cleaner up with a rag and warm water once you’ve removed the stain. This will prevent crusting or discoloration from a carpet cleaner that’s been left on too long.
Step 5: Allow the Rug to Dry
Use a towel to soak up as much of the excess water as possible. Let it air-dry outside on a drying rack. This may take 24 hours or more. If you cannot leave the rug outside for a long time, move it to your room to continue air-drying. Once one side is dry, flip it over to allow the underside to fully dry.
If you spot cleaned indoors, leave the rug untouched until it’s entirely dry.
Step 6: Vacuum the Rug Once More
Once your rug is fully dry, it’s time for a final vacuum. This can help get up soft fibers or hairs that may have loosened during the cleaning and drying process and bring your rug back to its original shape.