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How To Clean A Rug? [Guide To Keeping Your Carpets Spotless]

By: Susie
Updated On: December 5, 2023

It’s incredibly common these days to invest time and money in handpicking a beautiful rug to enhance the decor of your home.

But sooner rather than later, the novelty can swiftly become overshadowed by an unsightly stain or layer of dust, dulling its once vibrant colors.

Learning how to clean a rug in the comforts of your own home can breathe new life into your floor coverings and significantly extend their lifespan.

This informative yet easy-to-grasp guideline isn’t rocket science but an effective guide filled with practical knowledge about rug cleaning.

Trust me; you don’t necessarily need high-tech machinery or costly professionals; just some patience paired with these actionable steps can save your favorite piece from becoming a victim of abandonment due to dirt or stains.

Knowing the right techniques could mean the difference between preserving the beauty of your rug for years to come and having to replace it prematurely.

Avoiding Common Mistakes During Rug Clean-up

Cleaning your rug might seem like a no-brainer at first glance, but many folks underestimate the significance of a systematic approach.

Avoiding Common Mistakes During Rug Clean-up

Just jumping in with whatever cleaner you have on hand and a gallon of water can cut short the life of your beloved floor covering.

To preclude such blunders, here’s some critical advice you ought to keep in mind for your rug’s clean-up.

Detergents to Avoid

When you notice a smudge or mark on your rug, it’s tempting to reach for the nearest bottle of soap or detergent, but caution is key.

Most commercial cleaners contain aggressive chemicals that can damage or discolor your rug’s fibers.

Bleach-based cleaners are notorious culprits that can cause irrevocable color loss. Even those labeled as gentle or natural often contain optical brighteners that can lead to gradual yellowing after repeated use.

Similarly, avoid using laundry detergents as they may potentially create sudsy residues that are hard to rinse out.

Instead, opt for mild liquid dish soap or specialty rug cleaners safe for handwashing applications.

The idea is to clean without stripping away the natural oils from the rug fibers that make it resilient.

The Risk of Over-saturation

While it may seem like more water would only aid in removing stubborn dirt and grime from your rug, remember that moderation is essential here, too.

Over-saturating your rug can lead to several issues, including color bleeding, shrinkage, and mildew buildup due to inadequate drying.

If using a large amount of water during cleaning isn’t avoidable considering the extent of dirt captured in it, consider professional cleaning services who will have the proper equipment and expertise required for thorough drying.

When cleaning at home, it’s best practice to use as little water as possible on both synthetic and natural fiber rugs.

After applying a mild soap solution with light brushing, a rinse using lukewarm water should be performed to prevent soaking the rug fibers.

A happy rug is not necessarily a soaked one! Use just enough water to get the job done, and this will safeguard your cherished adornment against undesirable repercussions.

Also Read: How To Wash Lovesac Cover? [Easy Cleaning Guide For 2024]

How To Clean A Rug: 11 Best Ways

If you’ve ever wondered how to properly clean your rug without compromising its beauty and integrity, you’ve come to the right place.

Cleaning a rug is more than just another chore; it’s an activity that requires attention to detail and the utilization of the right techniques to get satisfactory results.

Let’s unpack some actionable, easy-to-follow steps toward giving your rug a thorough clean.

Clear furniture and objects off of the rug

Before embarking on your cleaning journey, it’s imperative that you clear all furniture and objects off of your rug. This step sets the stage for what comes next.

  • Not only does this prevent potential damage to items on the rug, but it also allows access to all areas of the rug for an evenly cleaned masterpiece.
  • Remember to be careful when moving furniture around, considering how heavy some pieces might be. This action can also prevent any injuries from falling over bulky furniture.
  • Consider if you’ll need help moving some heavier items. You may need to employ a dolly or slider for easier movement.
  • Take this opportunity to dust any small falls or debris off so you’re starting with a somewhat clean slate.

Vacuum both sides of the Rug

Believe it or not, vacuuming both sides of your Rug is not as crazy as it sounds.

Sure, perhaps only one side gets human traffic, but cleaning both sides is crucial for getting rid of hidden dust particles that could end up damaging your Rug over time.

  • Always start with a less visible side first; this way, minor dirt won’t drop onto a freshly cleaned front.
  • Vacuum in long, straight lines instead of random patterns for a more even, clean
  • Catch often overlooked areas like fringes; fringes tend to gather dust due to their texture.
  • Regularly emptying the vacuum bag prevents excess dirt from redistributing back onto cleaned areas.

Spot clean stains

Dealing with stains promptly is essential if you want to keep your rug in pristine condition.

Different types of stains respond to different treatments, so make sure you take note.

  • Coffee or tea stains? Get yourself some white vinegar mixed with warm water.
  • Got ink on your rug? Hairspray applied directly onto the stain can help break it down
  • Household items such as baking soda can be used for a variety of spills – apply generously and let it absorb the spill before vacuuming.
  • If a pet has had an accident on your rug, an enzymatic cleaner will help break down the stain and eliminate the smell

Remember not to rub the stain, as this may push it deeper into the fibers of your rug.

Mix a mild soap with warm water

The next crucial step is preparing a cleaning solution for your rug. Remember, harsh chemicals are not always necessary or safe for certain types of rugs.

  • A squirt of dish soap in a bucket of warm water works wonders
  • Always be cautious not to use too much soap – it can leave a residue that attracts more dirt
  • If you’re unsure about what soap to use, consult with professional cleaners or research online for guidance specific to your type of rug

Explore More: 10 Best Dust Ruffles Of 2024 [Keep Your Bed Stylish & Clean]

Test the cleaning solution for colorfastness

Before diving in and applying our soapy solution liberally, we must test it first to prevent any unwanted surprises.

  • Find an inconspicuous spot on your rug, perhaps under furniture or in a corner that’s typically hidden
  • Apply a small amount of the solution and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes
  • Blot dry; if there’s no marked discoloration, you’re good to go. If there’s color bleeding, then consider using another soap or perhaps consult professionals

Gently Scrub the Rug with the Soap Solution

Just like washing your car or doing your dishes, giving your rug a gentle scrub can lead to impactful results.

You don’t need a forceful touch; in fact, hard scrubbing might ruin the texture of your rug by breaking down the delicate fibers.

  • Start by dipping a soft-bristled brush or non-shedding sponge into your mild soap solution.
  • Do light, gentle strokes. Imagine you’re petting a cat. You aim to avoid squashing the texture and vibrancy of rug fibers.
  • Move systematically across your rug surface: Don’t miss spots by jumping all over. Working in small sections ensures every portion gets some love.
  • Don’t neglect stubborn stains, but don’t be too aggressive either: it’s about patience more than force in these scenarios.

Rinse The Rug Thoroughly With Water

Rinsing gets rid of all that gritty dirt and soap solution; it’s like wiping the slate clean for a fresh start.

  • Use lukewarm water during the rinsing process. Extreme temperatures could damage sensitive fibers or cause color bleed.
  • Try to rinse repeatedly until suds are no longer visible when you agitate the rug. This ensures that the soap solution has been completely rinsed off.
  • For larger rugs, perhaps consider using a garden hose for ease and convenience.

Remove Excess Water With a Squeegee or Towels

Excess water is your enemy post-rinsing because it makes rugs heavier, hampers the correct drying process, and can lead to mildew formation.

  • Press towels down gently rather than rubbing them on your rug’s surface – this will help you absorb as much water as possible without harming fibers.
  • A window squeegee works wonders on flat-weave rugs. Run it across the surface to squeeze out that stubborn excess water easily and efficiently.
    Innovation 101: Think outside the box; consider using water-absorbent microfiber cloths or a clean sponge mop for larger or thicker rugs.

Also Read: How To Place A Rug Under A Sectional Sofa [23 Ideas With Images]

Lay the Rug Flat to Dry, Avoiding Direct Sunlight

Now that your rug has been thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to let it dry. What’s crucial to remember here is that you don’t just leave it out to dry anywhere.

  • It’s recommended that you lay it flat for even drying. This ensures that the texture and shape of the rug remain consistent throughout.
  • Try placing several absorbent towels underneath the rug so they can soak up as much water as possible to facilitate the drying process.
  • Avoid putting your rug out in direct sunlight; sun-drying may cause the colors of your rug to fade or bleach out and potentially shrink by causing fast water evaporation.
  • If possible, opt for a shaded and airy spot outside or a bright indoor space with good airflow.

Vacuum or Brush the Rug Once Dry

After your rug is completely dry, there’s one last step before putting it back into rotation: a final vacuum or brush.

  • This step helps remove any leftover soap residue and fluffs up fibers that might have been pressed down during the cleaning process.
  • Run a vacuum over the top for best results. If your vacuum has adjustable settings, ensure you use the appropriate one for your type of rug.
  • If vacuuming isn’t an option, using a stiff brush in the direction of the carpet pile will also do the trick.

Air Out the Rug to Ensure It’s Completely Dry

Before declaring victory in your war against dirt and grime, give floorcovering one last chance to air out.

Even if the surface might feel dry, moisture could be trapped deeper down.

  • This step prevents mildew growth, which not only smells bad but can also damage fibers over time.
  • Choose a well-ventilated area free from foot traffic. Your garage or an unused room would be ideal locations. Letting stay there overnight should do the trick.

By following these steps closely, you’re sure to keep your rug looking fresh and vibrant and, more importantly, elongate its lifespan considerably.

Explore More: 30 Best Places To Buy Rugs Online In 2024 [Affordable & Premium]

FAQs About Cleaning The Rug

How often should I clean my rug?

It’s recommended to vacuum your rug once a week and do a deep clean once every 12-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic it experiences.

Can I use any soap to clean my rug?

Not all soaps are created equal. Avoid bleach-based or highly alkaline cleaners, which might damage or discolor your rug. Opt for mild detergent or specialty cleaners safe for rugs.

Can I machine wash my rug?

This depends on the size, make, and material of your rug. Check its care label instructions before throwing it in the washing machine.

What if my rug gets a wine or juice stain?

For tough stains like wine or juice, use a cloth to blot out as much of liquid as possible, then spot treat with mild detergent before proceeding with general cleaning.

Should I hire professional cleaners for my expensive rugs?

If you have an antique or expensive rug that requires special care, it might be best to rely on the services of professional cleaners who have experience handling delicate items.


Cleaning a rug can be a manageable DIY task if you’re armed with the right knowledge and tools.

Follow the steps shared in this guide, ranging from preparation, choosing the right cleaning solution, scrubbing and rinsing, to drying and airing out to give your rug the best care possible.

Regular maintenance will not only keep your rug looking tidy but will also ensure it remains a beautiful addition to your living space for years to come.

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