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Rugs are much more than just floor coverings, they are essential elements that can truly elevate the look and feel of your home. They visually define different areas within a room, creating a sense of order and separation.

How To Clean Rugs?

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Rugs act like filters, trapping dust, allergens, pet dander, and other contaminants that can trigger allergies and respiratory problems.

Deep cleaning rugs is an effective way to remove embedded dirt, stains, and allergens, restoring the rug's appearance and hygiene. Cleaning rugs depends on several factors, including the material, size, and level of soiling.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

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Make sure you have everything you need to effectively and safely cleaning a rug. Ensuring you have the appropriate tools not only simplifies the task but also helps preserve the integrity of your rug. You should also consider reading and following the instructions on the cleaning products to achieve the best results.

Some must-have supplies are:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Carpet or rug cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Soft-bristle brush or sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean towels or rags
  • Scrub brush
  • Gloves

Step 2: Check The Rug Material

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Most rugs come with care labels attached. Check for a tag or label that provides information about the rug's material and recommended cleaning instructions. This label is found on the back of the rug.

If there is no care label or if it is unclear, refer to any documentation or information provided by the rug manufacturer. Common rug materials include wool, synthetic fibers (such as nylon or polyester), cotton, silk, jute, sisal, and more.

Wool rugs are more resilient, while delicate fibers like silk may require extra care. Adjust your cleaning approach based on the material to prevent damage while cleaning the rug.

Step 3: Remove Furniture

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Furniture blocks access to large portions of the rug, leaving them untouched by cleaning efforts. You may miss hidden dirt, dust bunnies, and even lurking stains trapped underneath. Before starting the rug carpet cleaning process, plan where you will temporarily move the furniture.

Be cautious when moving furniture to avoid injury and damage to the furniture or floor. Lift heavy items rather than dragging them to prevent scratching the floor or damaging the rug.

Step 4: Remove Loose Dirt

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This procedure helps ensure that the cleaning solution can penetrate the fibers more effectively.

You can use any of the following ways:

  • Beat the dust: Hang your rug outdoors, drape it over a clothesline, or lay it flat on a hard surface. 
  • Use Vacuum Cleaner: Use the appropriate attachment for your rug type a beater bar for thicker rugs, and a smooth upholstery tool for delicate ones. 
  • Creative tools: For stubborn dirt clinging to corners or crevices, use a crevice tool or the edge of the vacuum cleaner nozzle.

Many rugs harbor dirt on the underside too. If accessible, flip the rug and repeat the beating and vacuuming process. This ensures a complete clean from top to bottom.

Step 5: Prepare Cleaning Solution

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For a general cleaning solution, you can often mix gentle liquid dish soap (like Dawn or Joy) with lukewarm water for synthetic rugs. Use a weaker concentration for natural fibers. Vinegar diluted with water can also be an effective option for some materials. Remember to always test any solution on a hidden spot first to ensure colorfastness.

If you prefer store-bought options, choose a rug cleaner specifically formulated for your rug type. Follow the dilution instructions carefully, and avoid harsh chemicals that might damage the fibers.

Step 6: Test in a Small Area

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Just like a doctor performs a patch test before administering a new medication, testing on your rug ensures its safety and compatibility with your chosen cleaning method. This simple check can save you from discolorations, damage, and heartache.

Start by locating the inconspicuous area of the rug prepare a small amount of your cleaning solution according to the product instructions and allow it to dry completely.

Once dry, examine the test area thoroughly. Look for any signs of color bleeding, fading, or texture changes. If everything looks pristine, you're good to go! Proceed with cleaning the entire rug with confidence.

Step 7: Apply Cleaning Solution

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Use a clean sponge, soft-bristle brush, or a clean cloth and apply the cleaning solution. You can also use a spray bottle for a more controlled application. Apply the cleaning solution evenly, ensuring that you cover the entire surface. Focus on areas with visible stains or high traffic. 

For Everyday Stains:

  • Spot cleaning: Blot up spills immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth. Use appropriate stain removers based on the culprit (coffee, wine, pet accidents). Test on an inconspicuous area first!
  • Baking soda: Sprinkle and let sit for 30 minutes to absorb mild odors. Vacuum thoroughly.

For Deeper Cleaning:

  • Shampooing: Choose a gentle rug shampoo and follow the instructions carefully. Test for colorfastness first. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and avoid over-wetting.
  • Professional cleaning: For delicate rugs, valuable pieces, or stubborn stains, enlist the expertise of professional rug cleaners. They have the knowledge and equipment for optimal results.

Step 8: Scrub Gently

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Gently scrub the rug with a scrub brush or the soft side of a sponge. Work in circular motions or along the natural direction of the rug fibers. Be cautious not to scrub too aggressively to avoid damaging the fibers.

Step 9: Allow Dwell Time

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It is the time required for the cleaning solution to sit on the rug fibers before agitation or extraction. The cleaning solution needs time to penetrate and loosen up dirt, dust, grease, and stains embedded in the fibers.

Without dwell time, it simply slides over the surface without doing its job. Different solutions have different recommended dwell times specified in the instructions, so keep the timer according to your rug material type.

Step 10: Rinse the Rug

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If your rug is small enough and washable, you can rinse it thoroughly with a hose using clean water. Continuously flush clean water through the rug, washing away loosened debris. This might involve specialized machines or even handwashing techniques.

For larger rugs or delicate materials, use a bucket of clean water and a sponge or squeegee to remove the cleaning solution. Rinse repeatedly until the water runs clear. Use lukewarm water for rinsing, never hot water.

Step 11: Dry Completely

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Never leave a wet rug to its own devices. Hang it outdoors in a shady spot with good air circulation. Rotate it regularly to ensure even drying. For indoor drying, lay it flat on towels and change them frequently. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, which can damage the fibers.

Regularly check the rug during the drying process to assess its moisture level. Touch the rug to feel for any remaining dampness. If moisture is detected, continue the drying process until the rug is completely dry.

Step 13: Vacuum Again

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Even after the initial cleaning and drying, there might be some remaining dirt, dust, or debris on the rug's surface. Vacuuming again helps to lift and remove any leftover particles, ensuring a more thorough cleaning. This step is particularly important for rugs with longer or shaggier piles, as it helps to maintain their plush and luxurious feel.

Final Thoughts

While some rugs can be deep cleaned at home using specific techniques and cleaning solutions, professional cleaning is highly recommended for valuable rugs made from delicate materials or those with deeply ingrained dirt or stains.