More often than not, the addition of area rugs to a home is just the thing you need to tie the interiors together! For years to come, the colour, texture, and pattern of your rug can be matched with a wide range of household linens and diverse styles of interior decor. The overall condition and appearance of area rugs, however, greatly depends on the level of maintenance given to them. In other words, shabby area rugs are going to drag the whole room down if you don’t clean and maintain their luxurious look.
A lifeless looking rug is typically owed to dust, dirt, and stains sitting on the surface over a long period of time. Moreover, these decorative floor pieces are prone to wear and tear if not cleaned in a timely manner. So, if you want your area rugs to stand the test of time, you’ve got to give them some T.L.C.!
In this article, we will share a simple, step-by-step guide on how to clean rugs, followed by some crucial tips on how to keep them looking new and luxurious! First, let’s get you prepared for the cleaning process.
For people who suffer from allergies (and even some who don’t), cleaning a dusty rug is a major trigger for sneezing, coughing, breathing difficulty, and the likes. Apart from this, dust can also cause skin or eye irritation; therefore, it’s important to use the right protective gear when cleaning area rugs. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dust mask
- Protective eyewear
- Kitchen/rubber gloves
- Long-sleeved t-shirt
Once you’ve got your gear in place, gather up the following items for the cleaning job:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Soft-bristled brush
- Liquid dish soap
- White vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
- Clean cloths/towels
- (Old) large bath towel
How to Clean Area Rugs
Follow the step-by-step guide below for a safe and effective clean of your favourite area rugs.
Step One: Get the Dust Off
Take the rug outside and pat off as much dust and debris as possible. Do this on both sides using just enough force to dislodge dirt trapped among the fibres. This is when the mask will really come in handy because a lot of the debris will become airborne as you dust the rug. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to remove debris from both sides of the rug.
Step Two: Vacuum the Rug
Depending on the type of rug you have, there are different vacuuming techniques and attachments that are recommended for a safe and effective clean. Here’s a brief guide to vacuuming different types of rugs:
Tufted & Woven Rugs
- Before you start vacuuming, check for peeling on the underside of your tufted rug. If you find peeling, this means the weave is weaker and therefore, requires cautious cleaning.
- Use your fingers to brush the pile back and forth to figure out the direction; you will notice some resistance while the pile will appear darker when brushed against its direction.
- Avoid using pressure or repeatedly vacuuming over areas that are peeling on the underside.
- Use a regular brush attachment.
- Vacuum tufted and woven rugs diagonally (perpendicular to the pile direction); vacuuming against the pile will stress the fibres while moving in the same direction will lead to an ineffective clean as the pile gets flattened over dirt and debris.
- Woven rugs typically have a fringe that should not be vacuumed (with the beater bar) as the strands may get damaged; use the hose (nozzle) to clean the fringe.
- Whether it’s a low pile or high pile rug, turn off the vacuum cleaner’s beater bar before you clean a shag rug.
- Vacuum the underside of the rug first (you can use the beater bar for this); flip it over and proceed to vacuum the top.
- Use an appropriate attachment that ensures the metal part of the head does not make contact with the pile.
- Vacuum in different directions for an effective clean.
Flat Weave Rugs
- Flip the rug and vacuum the underside thoroughly before vacuuming the top.
- Use a regular brush attachment for flat weave rugs.
- Turn off the beater bar when vacuuming close to the fringe; use the hose to vacuum the strands.
In this step (vacuuming), the goal is to remove pet hair, dust, and other debris that could not be removed with merely patting the rug. Be sure to vacuum both sides for a thorough, deep clean of the rug.
Step Three: Shampoo and Scrub
While there are rug and carpet shampoos available on the market, you can easily make your own cleaning solution with some common household products. If you choose to use a store-bought product, the instructions on how to use the shampoo will be written on the label. To make your own cleaner, fill half a bucket with warm water and mix in approximately half a cup of liquid dish soap (or as much as it takes to create a sudsy solution).
Apply the cleaner to the rug using a soft-bristled brush or sponge; dip the tool in your homemade cleaner and remove excess water before (gently) working it into the rug. Allow the cleaner to sit for 10 minutes. Dampen a towel or cloth with fresh water and wipe over the rug to remove as much soapiness (a thorough rinsing will be done later).
NOTES: Avoid using hot water as it may fade and/or warp the rug. Do a colour fastness test on an inconspicuous area before shampooing your rug.
Step Four: Remove Stains
Rug stains caused by dirt are fairly easy to remove using a simple homemade cleaning solution. To make this cleaner, combine 1 part warm water, 1 part white vinegar, and a cap of liquid laundry detergent; mix well. Pour a small amount of the solution over the stain and blot it with a clean sponge. If you need to use a minimal amount of pressure to rub the area, do this in the direction of the pile so that the fibres are not stressed. Wait for 10 minutes before you wipe over the stain with a damp towel.
NOTE: If the stain persists, spot clean the area with hydrogen peroxide (1 part) and water (5 parts).
Step Five: Rinse > Dry
Rinse off the cleaning solution(s) by holding the rug upright under running water. Reduce the water pressure to half (if you don’t have an in-built low-flow regulator) and allow it to run in the same direction as the pile. When the soapiness runs out, it’s time to dry your area rug. To do this without damaging or warping the rug, use the following drying techniques:
- Hold the rug upright, end to end, and allow water to drip down
- Shake it from side to side to remove as much water as possible
- On a flat surface place an old, large bath towel over the rug
- Roll it up (not too tightly), hold it for a few seconds, and then unroll
- If you have a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, use it to remove as much moisture as possible
- Dry the rug in a shady outdoor area, preferably draped over a railing or fence; avoid hanging as this may cause the rug to lose shape
Tips to Keep Area Rugs Clean and Luxurious
Whether it’s a brand new rug or one that has just been deep cleaned, the key to maintaining your area rugs‘ luxurious appearance is regular cleaning. Often times, daily household cleaning excludes vacuuming of rugs which, in turn, leads to dust accumulation and the appearance of dullness. Here are some quick tips to maintain area rugs and keep them clean:
- Vacuum daily, or every alternate day
- Pat dust outside every week
- Clean underside every 2-3 weeks
- Sprinkle baking soda and vacuum after 1 hour to freshen up rugs
- Soak up spills with paper towels immediately
- Use a stain remover (like hydrogen peroxide) and white cloth to lift stains as soon as they occur
- Clean underneath the rug before vacuuming it
- Take the rug out of the room when cleaning up cobwebs or spring cleaning your home to avoid dirt and stains
- Place rugs where there is less foot traffic
- Choose low pile rugs if you have pets
- Consider having your area rugs cleaned professionally at least once a year
Although area rugs complement home interiors very easily, remember that they can also do the exact opposite when left dirty! An article from Homely says “A rug can dramatically change the look and feel of your home”. So, keep your lovely rugs clean and luxurious for years to come with the cleaning guide and maintenance tips above.
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