One of the most popular and stylish accessories in a household is definitely a clean area rug. It makes the home look and feel inviting and cozy. However, although area rugs beautify the entire home, they are also exposed to enormous wear and tear. Truth is, it all happens so gradually that most people don’t even notice that odors, dirt, dust, oils (due to heavy foot traffic), mud, spills, and pet accident residues get trapped in the area rugs and settle deep into the rug’s foundation. Undoubtedly, such a day-to-day strain calls for a proper area rug cleaning routine, to prevent premature wear of your rug, and here’s all you need to know to always have a truly clean area rug with the brightness it deserves.
1. Vacuum it
Large rugs need to be regularly vacuumed to remove dirt; the exact same thing as with carpets. For reversible rugs, make sure you vacuum both sides, to remove grime and grit that could send your rug to the rug-ER. However, avoid vacuuming the rug’s fringe to prevent damage.
Note: If you have a pet at home, although super cute and adorable, chances are you are also dealing with their pet hair being all over the place, your rug included. Given that pet hair is, sometimes, not completely vacuumed, brushing out with a stiff brush in the direction of the rug’s nap will probably get the job done efficiently.
2. Shake it
One of the oldest methods used by housewives across the world is dusting. This involves getting your rug outside (if you have a balcony), especially on a sunny day, invert it, and then start vibrating its back. A rug beater is particularly useful for this phase as it will make your task much easier. When you do that, you will see that dry soil is loosened and falls out of the rug. If you don’t have a balcony, you can do that in your backyard.
3. Hand-Wash it
Fill a small bucket with lukewarm water and a carpet detergent, and, with the help of a stiff brush, sweep your rug with the carpet cleaning solution. Alternatively, you could use white vinegar (half the amount of water you use, e.g. for 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of white vinegar) or clear household ammonia (approx. 2 tablespoons per cup of water).
It is important to dust your rug first because the water and soap create a kind of sticky sludge to the foundation and the fibers of the rug. The result? Rugs that lack brightness and shine, when dry. Think of dry dirt as a sandpaper gritting the foundation of your rug.
4. Send the rug to a trusted rug cleaner
Rugs get dirty and not even regular vacuum cleaning can prevent the inevitable. To be able to maintain a clean rug looking at its best for long, seek for professional rug cleaning services, at least every a couple of years. A professional rug cleaner, such as Love Your Rug Professional Area Rug Cleaning, will remove the rug from your premises, give it the treatment it deserves as per its type (Persian, Oriental, Silk, Wool, etc.) with professional tools and means, and deliver it clean and fresh in a timely manner. You can also ask them to cut, resurge, or bind your carpet is it needs some repair of that sort.
5. Wash it in the Washing Machine
For small rugs, ideally braided or woven ones, it is a good idea to place them in a mesh laundry bag (a zippered pillow case will also do) and wash on a gentle cycle in cool water, minding rinsing to be thorough. Before you do that though, always check the labels to see if they are washable. Tumble dry (always on a low setting) and pay attention to any stitching breaks, both before the cleaning and after it. If you spot any break, address a professional rug cleaner to get it repaired for you. Before you put it back to place, make sure it is thoroughly dry.
6. Powder it
Clean your hair-on hides, sheep skin, and fur rugs by shaking unscented talcum powder of them. Leave for a few hours, brush the powder through the hair, and shake it out. Depending on the length of the fur, you may need to repeat this process a couple more time until your rug is clean.
For the back of the rug, dip a clean cotton cloth in lukewarm water-soap solution and wipe off any spills or dirt. Rinse with another cotton cloth that you would have dipped in clean water (only water-no soap) and let it dry completely before you replace the rug on the floor.
7. Remove its Stains
Soft Drinks & Alcohol – Apply to the stain a solution that is made of: 1 quart of warm water, 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent, and ¼ teaspoon of white vinegar. Always BLOT and NOT RUB. The same solution could be applied to tea and coffee stains (for stubborn stains though, use a commercial spot carpet cleaner).
Gum– Start by peeling off as much as you can, and then freeze the gum with the use of some ice cubes placed in a plastic bag. This will harden the gum and will make scraping it off with a dull knife or a spoon easy. If required, you can use a dry solvent spot cleaner after you vacuum the rug. The same goes for Melted Wax stains.
Paint– Latex and Acrylic paint, use the solution described before while the stain is still wet. For persistent stains, dab with rubbing alcohol or sponge with odorless mineral spirits (for oil-based paint), always paying attention not to allow the solution soak through to the backing.
Tomato Sauce– Use a sponge to wet the rug with cool water. Dab it with the solution used before and rinse with another solution containing 2 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar. Blot carefully until completely dry.
8. DIY Deep Carpet Cleaning
Although nothing compares to the cleaning effect you get from a professional rug cleaner, using an extraction machine will bring you the closest to a professional steam cleaning work. It sure is a perfect way to get your carpets clean. Rent a machine (supermarket models are not as powerful as from rental companies) and always test the cleaning solution before you use it. Pour just a couple of drops into a saucer and let it evaporate (you may want to use a hair dryer to speed things up). Has the dried residue remained sticky? Then you need to switch cleaners. Dry the rug(s) using air-conditioning or fans.
9. Get Rid of Wine Stains
Wine stains are a BIG trouble. They won’t come off easily and it requires super extra care when using detergents to avoid damage. A quick and effortless way to remove such stain is shaving cream that can get the job done in a heartbeat, without damaging the rug. Just apply the shaving cream with a shaving brush (an old one will do) and leave for a few minutes. Then, with a damp, clean rug with it up and that’s about it!
10. Maintain it
Your rug area can be protected against too much wearing. So, besides regularly vacuuming, you can also place a rug support underneath the rug (a small tile is also great), especially if you have furniture on it. Ideally, put the support where the legs of the furniture rest. That way, the furniture won’t indent the rug severely. Also, having a no-shoes rule inside the home will also save your rug area from unnecessary heavy foot traffic. Finally, flip it over, if your rug is reversible, every 6 months.