Keep Your Area Rugs Looking Their Best

1. Basic Rug Care & Maintenance
Much like carpet, area rugs need to be cleaned regularly. It is essential to have a good vacuum and use it to pick up dust and dirt on a regular basis. To help prevent rug stains, clean-up spills immediately when they happen. Specific rug care is determined by size, construction, and material. Care for large-size area rugs as you would wall-to-wall carpet.

2. Cleaning Special Types of Rugs
Special types of rugs require special cleaning care. To properly maintain and care for your specialty rugs, please follow these valuable tips:

2.1. Woven or Braided Rugs
Check rugs for stitching breaks before and after cleaning. Check labels to determine whether small braided rugs are washable. If they are, place them in a zippered pillowcase or mesh laundry bag. Wash in cool water on a gentle cycle, rinsing thoroughly. Tumble dry on a low setting. Place large braided rugs on a vinyl or concrete floor or place an old blanket beneath them. Sponge commercial carpet-cleaning foam over the surface and rub it in according to the product directions. Finish by rinsing or vacuuming. Dry thoroughly before replacing the rug on the floor.

2.2. Handmade, Hand-knotted, Antique, and Oriental Rugs
Vacuum a new Oriental rug as you would carpet and wool area rugs. Use special care with delicate vintage or antique rugs. Protect them from the vacuum by placing a piece of nylon screen over the rug and weighting it down with books or bricks. Vacuum over the screen. Or, tie a piece of nylon mesh over the vacuum attachment and change the mesh frequently as dirt accumulates. Have these rugs professionally cleaned once a year. Rotate rugs to ensure even wear; direct exposure to sun will cause fading.

2.3. Fur, Sheepskin, and Hair-on Hides Rugs
Shake unscented talcum powder on fur, sheepskin, and hair-on hide rugs and leave for several hours. Brush the talcum powder through the hair, then shake it out. Repeat this process several times, depending on the length of the fur.

To clean the back of such a rug, use a clean cotton cloth dipped in lukewarm soapy water. Wipe off any dirt or spills. Rinse with a cloth dipped in clean water and allow to dry completely before putting back in place.

2.4. Coir, Sisal, Rush, and Grass Rugs
Rugs made from these natural fibers feature an open weave that allows dirt to sift through to the floor beneath. Vacuum frequently, removing the rug occasionally to vacuum the floor, as well. Many of these rugs are reversible; if so, flip every time you vacuum for even wear.

To clean stains or discolorations on a room-size natural-fiber rug, leave it in place. Protect the floor beneath it with a plastic drop cloth and towel. Scrub the stains with a soft brush dipped in soapy water. Rinse with clear water. Place a towel over the wet area. Blot the cleaned spot as dry as possible. Use a portable fan or hair dryer to speed drying. Move small rugs to a protected table or counter to clean. Water weakens the fibers, so work quickly and dry thoroughly to extend the life of these rugs.

3. Stain-Removal Guide for Rugs
Time is of the essence when your rug becomes stained. Remember to blot -- not rub -- the stain and remove moisture from spills as quickly as possible.

  • Alcohol and Soft Drinks: Use a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent, 1 quart of warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. Apply to the stain, rinse, then blot dry.
  • Coffee or Tea: Using the detergent mix above, apply to stain, rinse, and blot. If a stain remains, use a commercial spot carpet cleaner.
  • Urine, Feces, and Vomit: Apply detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner, rinse, and blot until dry.
  • Fat-based Stains: For foods such as butter, margarine, or gravy, use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaner.
  • Gum: Peel off what you can, then put ice cubes in a plastic bag and harden the gum, scraping the gum off with a spoon or dull knife. Vacuum and use a dry-solvent spot cleaner if needed.
  • Melted Wax: Use the same treatment as gum, hardening it with ice cubes in a plastic bag and scraping. Dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot to remove any remaining wax.
  • Paint: For acrylic and latex paint, while the stain is still wet, spot-clean with the detergent solution. If color remains, dab with rubbing alcohol. For oil-base paint, sponge with odorless mineral spirits, being careful not to soak through to the backing.
  • Tomato Sauce: Sponge with cool water, dab with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse with a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups of water and blot until dry.

4. Professional Rug Cleaning
Have your rugs professionally cleaned every few years. And, as with any flooring product, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance suggestions and cleaning products.