How to Clean a Rug the Right Way

An area rug can add so much to a room. They add comfort, warmth, and decoration. They add a stylish touch wherever they are placed, and they can help to define areas and spaces.

There are so many different colors, shapes, and styles to consider. Most homes have one or more area rugs on display for the homeowners and their guests to enjoy. However, due to their placement in high traffic areas, they often get soiled or stained.

Many people don't know the proper way to clean these area rugs, but learning how to clean a rug is simple. Read on to learn strategies for area rug cleaning and for keeping your rugs looking new for years to come.

Regular Maintenance


No matter how big or small your area rug is, it will need regular, ongoing maintenance for it to look its best.

The simplest maintenance you can do to rugs - or carpets for that matter - is to vacuum them. This should be done at least once a week, but vacuuming more frequently than that certainly won't hurt either.

Spot Cleaning

Spot Cleaning

From time to time, your area rug may also need some spot cleaning.

If you spill something small on your area rug or track dirt on it, you'll want to dive into cleaning the problem right away. A spill will be much more difficult to remove if you give it time to dry; try to attack it while it is still wet. These rug cleaning tips say the sooner you start cleaning, the better.

When spot cleaning, you should start first with water only. No matter what your area rug is made of, water will not cause any damage. If more power is needed, you can always try carpet shampoos and stain removers later.

Many people believe that scrubbing a mess on the rug will be the best course of action but this is altogether false. This will only force the spill deeper into the fibers.

The key is to blot. Blotting the spill with a clean, wet rag will help to transfer the mud or liquid from the rug into the rag. As the rag gets dirty from the absorption of the problem, use another part of the rag or a new rag to continue.

You will likely need to blot over and over for a long time to see the results you desire. However, patience and perseverance will pay off. The blotting method should work for water-based spills such as spills from alcoholic beverages, foods, soda, pet accidents, dirt, wet latex paint, and more.

Removing Sticky Spots

Removing Sticky Spots

Sometimes things like gum, wax, or glue may end up on your area rugs. These types of sticky stains will require a method other than blotting. Because these stains are soft solids, you will benefit from hardening them first.

The best way to do this is through freezing. Put some ice cubes in a plastic bag or use an icepack. Set your ice cubes or icepack on the stain and allow the spill to harden. Once it has hardened, you can scrape off the spill with a spoon.

Further blotting with water or a small amount of rubbing alcohol should take care of the rest.

How to Clean a Rug: Annual Cleaning

The above tips are great for ongoing maintenance and to clean up spills, but your area rugs will also require annual cleaning. If they are in high traffic areas, you may want to give them a thorough cleaning several times a year. When it comes to learning how to clean a rug, annual cleanings are important, too.

There's a simple method to determine whether or not your area rugs are due for a deep cleaning. Simply pick up a corner of your rug and let it flop back down. If you can see dust coming off of it, it's time.

clean a rug

Small Area Rugs

If the area rugs in your home are small, it's easy. Most area rugs are made to be washed in the washing machine. Toss them into your washer one at a time. Use a delicate cycle and wash them in cold water.

You can also run area rugs through the dryer in most cases, but they will also dry quickly if you choose to air dry them outside. Check the rug's label for rug-specific washing instructions.

Large Area Rugs

If your area rug is too large for your washing machine, you will need to attack this task a little differently.

First, vacuum as usual, but if you can, flip the rug over and vacuum the back, too. This will remove the surface dirt before you proceed to the next step. If possible, also bring the rug outside and throw it over a railing or fence. You can then beat the rug with a bat or broom handle to remove even more of the dirt it has captured since last time.

Cleaning Materials

The next step is the most important part of an annual cleaning. If your rug is made of cotton or synthetic fiber, you can shampoo it; if it is wool, you'll be washing it instead.

Either way, the process is the same. Cotton and synthetic fiber rugs should be shampooed with carpet shampoo and wool rugs should be washed with a mix of cold water and laundry detergent made specifically for wool.


Before you clean the entire rug, dampen a sponge with the cleaning product and test a small area to make sure the colors don't run. If they do, you should take your rug to a professional cleaner.

However, if they don't, you can move forward; continue washing the rug in small sections. You can scrub a cotton or synthetic rug with a soft bristle brush, but a wool rug should only be cleaned with a sponge.


After you have cleaned the entire rug, repeat your cleaning process with a clean bucket of water to remove the soap. Be careful not to get the rug too wet, and blotting will help with the soap removal.


Finally, try soaking up the remaining water with towels and then let your rug air dry. You'll be amazed at how much cleaner it looks with just a little effort!

Happy Cleaning

These area rug cleaning tips will help you learn how to clean a rug and you'll love how newly cleaned rugs look in your home. Put annual cleanings on your calendar and you'll never have to worry about your area rugs getting too dusty. Good luck and happy cleaning!

If you are interested in learning more about all types of home design and home improvement, check out the rest of our site.

I am Vera Watson. Drawing The House is a dream that was conceived when I saw a niche in consumer guide on almost everything in our homes. My main aim is to help you save money by testing the products you need and recommending you the best of them all. I believe in the family as an institution and the first way to make a family happy is providing the best for them.

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