Can you clean a rug yourself? Yes, you can, as long as you know what you’re doing. That’s where we come in.
Below, we cover in detail the steps required for cleaning an area rug. We’ll also teach you what materials you need, how often to clean a rug, and how to tell if your rug needs a deep clean.
Then again, is it worth it to clean a rug yourself? We’ll answer that, too. Find all these answers and more in this guide on how to clean a rug.
How To Tell If Your Rug Needs Cleaning
Typically, area rugs only need a deep clean once a year. But, besides marking your calendar, here are a few ways you can check.
Try rubbing the palm of your hand in a circular motion on the face of the rug for about 10 seconds. If your hand looks visibly dirty after this, the rug needs a deep clean.
Alternatively, hold up one corner of the rug and give it a gentle kick. If you see a big poof of dust, that’s another sign that it needs a deep clean.
1. Read the Instructions
Before anything else, see if you can locate the instructions for your particular rug. You might find this information on the tag, in a booklet that came with the rug, or online.
Please note: while the steps in this guide are generally correct for most rugs, they’re not specific to any actual rug you may have at home. Some rugs have particular care instructions that won’t match the general advice here.
Washing a rug incorrectly may ruin it. Still, if you can’t find the instructions, we’ll teach you how to be careful so you won’t ruin your rug.
2. Gather Your Materials and Set Up
Hopefully, you found the instructions so you can choose the appropriate rug shampoo. If not, you should still try to identify what the rug is made of. Then you can at least find a shampoo specifically made for that material.
Next, you’ll need somewhere to hang up the rug to dry. Rugs are much heavier than clothes so a standard clothesline will not be strong enough to handle it.
You need a thick rope anchored onto something strong, like thick tree branches. Or, you can hang it over a fence or a handrailing. If you don’t have access to anything like this on your property, get your rug professionally cleaned instead.
Beware of hanging the rug on metal or it can rust and stain the rug. And clean your fence before hanging a rug on it.
Other Materials You Need
You’ll also need these materials:
- A broom or a rug beater
- Some large buckets (5-gallon)
- A sponge or scrub-brush, depending on what type the rug is
- Towels for drying
- An electric fan (optional)
In addition, you’ll need a large, clean area for cleaning the rug that won’t leak cleaning chemicals onto your grass or your neighbor’s property. One good option is to do it on a tarp over your driveway so it drains into the street.
3. Vacuum and Beat the Rug
Next, it’s time to remove as much dirt as possible from the rug. Thoroughly vacuum the face of the rug.
Do this slowly and repeat several times, emptying the vacuum of dirt as necessary. Then, flip the rug over and repeat this on the backside.
Lastly, take the rug outside and beat it. Beat any remaining dirt out of it with a broomstick or a rug beater.
4. Test For Colorfastness
Before you wash, you need to test for colorfastness. Put a small amount of cleaning solution mixed with water on a corner of the rug.
Now, wrap a towel around it and squeeze it with your hand. If some color bleeds onto the towel, try a different shampoo.
And if the color doesn’t bleed, wait for the area to completely dry, anyway. The shampoo may still affect or remove color gradually, like bleach.
If you try several cleaners and the color keeps bleeding or fading, you need professional help. Contact professional cleaning services in your area or a dry cleaner that does rugs.
5. Wash the Rug
Now, you’re ready to wash. Here are the instructions depending on the type of rug you have.
Cotton or Synthetic Fiber Rugs
In your chosen cleaning area, thoroughly soak your rug with the hose. Mix the shampoo with water according to the instructions.
Dip a soft-bristled brush in the diluted solution and gently scrub the solution into the rug. Do this in one small section at a time until the whole rug is scrubbed. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it with the hose.
Before you wet the rug, rub it with your hand to figure out the orientation of the fibers. That is, you’ll need to wash with the grain, not against the grain.
Only use a cleaner that is specifically made to clean wool. Mix the shampoo according to the instructions and dip a sponge in it.
Wring the sponge so that it’s damp, not dripping. Use the sponge to wipe the surface (with the grain), one small section at a time.
To rinse, fill a bucket with plain water. Then, repeat this same process, wiping the rug down with the plain water as you did with the cleaning solution.
6. Dry the Rug
Towel dry the rug as much as possible. Hang it up to dry and set up the fan to blow it dry. It helps to do this on a hot summer day.
7. Consider Professional Cleaning
As you can see, this is a lot of work. And there’s a lot that can go wrong.
So, after reading all these steps, consider if it’s worth it or even possible for you to clean the rug yourself. It might be best to skip the whole thing and hire a professional.
Follow These Steps to Clean a Rug the Right Way
Are your rugs looking kind of dingy? Then use the steps in this guide to clean your rugs the right way.
Also, don’t just keep this valuable info to yourself. Share this with your friends and family so that they can learn the right way to clean a rug, too.
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