The Definitive Guide to Cleaning Area Rugs

The Definitive Guide to Cleaning Area Rugs


Area rugs are a beautiful addition to just about any room. However, it is the unfortunate truth that even the most well cared for area rugs eventually become dirty or suffer from spills or other unwanted stains. Depending on the type of rug you have, you might find the best way to clean a rug is much different for you than it might be for someone else. Read on to learn all about how to clean area rug varieties of all different types. Soon, you will have no trouble getting through even the toughest of stains and keeping your rugs looking their best throughout their time in your home. Cleaning an area rug has never been so easy!

How to Clean Area Rugs

How to Clean Area Rugs

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There are several different ways in which an area rug might become dirty. Unfortunately, depending on where you place your rug in your home, you may find that some of these problems arise more often than not, even when you try your best to keep your rug clean. Different types of stains require different cleaning methods, but for the most part, there are a few solid steps you can take in order to get started cleaning your rug, no matter what type of material it is made out of and what may have been spilled on it. If you are wondering how to clean rugs in general, read on to learn how to clean rug varieties no matter what they may be.


How to Vacuum an Area Rug

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Whether you are dealing with ground-in dirt, pet stains, spilled wine, or any other type of cleaning problem when it comes to your area rugs, the first step you must take in cleaning a rug is simply to vacuum it. You will be surprised to see just what a different a simple vacuuming can make, even when you feel like you are faced with a massive cleaning job. Vacuuming your rug on both sides will get rid of any loose dirt that might be near the top of the fibers, and it also might lift out part of the stain that has not set in yet. No matter what type of rug you have, you should always vacuum it first before you take any other cleaning steps. If you are wondering how to clean an area rug, this is the best way to get started.

Testing on a Small Section of Rug First

Are you still wondering how to clean a rug? Again, no matter what type of rug you have, if this is your first time washing it, you will want to be sure to test it for colorfastness. Many modern-day area rugs are treated for colorfastness, which means that most cleaning chemicals will not remove the colored pigments from the material. However, if you are cleaning a much older or more delicate rug, you might want to be careful so that you do not accidentally bleach out some of the rug’s color or make it run. Always test your cleaning solutions on a small, out of the way corner of your rug before you proceed with the rest of the cleaning steps. also offers a few other useful steps to take for cleaning just about any type of area rug.

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How to Clean Wool Rugs

How to Clean Wool Area Rugs
Rug Pictured: Safavieh Heritage Area Rug Collection

Are you looking for information on how to clean wool area rugs? If so, these tips are here to help you. Cleaning a wool rug does not have to be a complicated process. It is important to understand how to clean wool rug varieties as opposed to other types of rug materials before you get started. Follow these simple tips to have a clean wool rug in no time:

  • Dip a sponge in cold water that contains rug shampoo. Squeeze out the excess, then sponge-clean the rug from top to bottom, including the fringe.
  • Always sponge in the direction of the rug’s nap.
  • Rinse the rug clean with cool water, then dry right away. Be sure to blot out any extra water and hang your rug to dry for as long as possible to prevent mildew.

What about how to clean a wool area rug that simply needs a spot treatment? Check out these tips for keeping stains out of your wool rug:

  • Right after a stain happens, spread baking soda over the stain, and then vacuum your rug. This is a great way to deal with pet stains while getting rid of odor as well.
  • If this does not remove the stain, dilute ½ cup white vinegar with 2 cups water and ½ tsp dish liquid, then scrub the stain with a clean sponge. This works wonders even on red wine stains. Check out this post for more tips on getting wine out of your wool rug.
  • Finally, try blotting the area with cold, clean water. If the stain is not very significant, this may work. Mud and soil can easily be removed using this method.

How to Clean Shag Rugs

How to Clean Shag Area Rugs

Rug Pictured: Safavieh California Shag Area Rug Collection

If you want to know how to clean shag area rugs with varieties that have long, fluffy piles, you may need to change your cleaning method just a bit. Although cleaning shag rug fibers may be similar to the method used for cleaning wool, it is a little bit different as well. Read on to learn how to clean a shag rug in no time:

  • If you are cleaning wine out of your rug, try this method for how to clean a shag rug. Combine 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap with 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and dilute it in two cups of warm water. Sponge the stain with just a little bit of the solution at a time until it lifts.
  • For pet stains, try using an alcohol-free wipe, like a baby wipe or similar product, to lift as much of the stain as possible right after the accident takes place. If you wait too long, however, this method may not work.
  • Sprinkling a stain with baking soda and then vacuuming can work with a shag rug, but it may be less successful with a high pile rug. Cleaning shag rugs can be complicated because of this.
  • If all else fails, take your shag rug to a professional cleaner who will hand-wash it in a shallow rug pool and slowly work the stain out of the pile. You can also try this at home by soaking your rug in a large, shallow tub of soapy water. Be sure to test your soap solution on a corner first before you try this.
  • Cleaning at home may be cheaper than using a professional. Learn about the average cost of cleaning rugs professionally.
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How to Clean Jute Rugs

How to Clean Jute Area Rugs

Rug Pictured: Kaleen Kenwood Area Rug Collection

Jute rug cleaning can be much different than dealing with wool or other fibers. Jute is a very popular material when it comes to rugs, but unfortunately, it traps dirt very frequently and can stain badly if not cleaned the right way. For the best tips for how to clean a jute area rugs, read on:

  • If you catch a spill right after it happens, use a brush with soft bristles (or a toothbrush, for smaller stains) and just a little bit of water to scrub out the spill.
  • If mud or food is caked into your rug, scrape it first with a knife, then scrub it with a dry, stiff brush. Vacuum your rug when you are finished to remove missed bits and pieces.
  • When you are finished cleaning with water, be sure to dry your rug quickly with a blow dryer. You might also be able to use a fan to dry your rug. It is important not to let it sit and be wet for a long period of time.
  • Try to remove stubborn stains and odors in your jute rug by using dry cleaning powder. Start by spreading the powder over your rug, and then use a dry, stiff brush to scrape away any stains from the fibers of the rug. Again, vacuum following this procedure.

How to Clean Sisal Rugs

How to Clean Sisal Area Rugs

Rug Pictured: Safavieh Natural Fiber Area Rug Collection

Sisal is a unique product that has become quite popular in the world of area rugs in recent years. Most of the time, sisal is actually a blend of part sisal, a fiber made from the plant of the same name, and part wool. However, in some instances, sisal area rugs are made entirely out of sisal. In either situation, cleaning sisal rugs can be done in method similar to the one used when cleaning jute. Check out the following tips for how to clean a sisal rug the right way:

  • Because sisal rugs are made out of a rough fiber, they are prone to trapping loose dirt and other contaminants during the course of regular use. Your rug may look dirty or worn-out if you do not perform regular vacuuming maintenance. Be sure to vacuum a sisal rug very frequently to keep it looking fresh.
  • When you vacuum your rug, be careful not to let the vacuum catch the edge of the sisal rug for too long. It can pull apart the binding and cause your rug to fall apart.
  • Do not use water on a sisal rug, and never steam clean this material.
  • Blot spills with a clean, white cloth if you catch them immediately after they take place.
  • If you spill wine or other liquids, try blotting with a clean cloth that is slightly damp with club soda in order to remove these stubborn stains.
  • Otherwise, scrape solids with a nail file in order to remove them from the natural fibres of your sisal rug.
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How to Clean Cowhide Rugs

How to Clean Cow Hide Area Rugs

Rug Pictured: Safavieh Cow Hide Area Rug Collection

If you are decorating a rustic space or just looking for the perfect addition to a country-style living area, you may have a cowhide rug as the centerpiece of one of the rooms in your home. Cowhide rugs can be difficult to clean, but with the right materials, you should have no trouble. Follow these tips for how to clean a cowhide rug:

  • Brush loose dirt from your rug with a stiff bristle brush or a broom. Brush in the direction of the hair growth in order to keep from losing too much of the hair.
  • Blot liquid spills with a sponge, but never scrub or wipe. Try not to use water to clean spills if possible. If you must, use a very slightly damp cloth or sponge, and dry your rug as quickly as possible.
  • Scrape solid material away with a knife in the direction of hair growth.
  • Stubborn stains can be removed with a slightly damp cloth and mild rug shampoo. Be sure not to overload your cowhide rug with too much shampoo or water, however.

How to Clean Braided Rugs

How to Clean Braided Area Rugs

Rug Pictured: Safavieh Braided Area Rug Collection

Braided rugs are beautiful, traditional centerpieces of many country homes. Most braided rugs are handmade, and because of this, they must be cleaned carefully in order to avoid unwanted damage to your rug. Check out these tips for how to clean a braided rug correctly to keep it safe for years to come:

  • For regular cleaning, beat your braided rope rug outdoors to loosen dust and dirt from the fibers.
  • For spot-cleaning stains, use a combination of 1 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar to scrub your rug until the stain lifts. Do not use soap or shampoo on a braided rug.
  • Hose down your rug for a full cleaning at least once a year. Hang it to dry in the sun if possible, and be sure to let it dry thoroughly.
  • For solid spills, scrub with a stiff, dry scrub brush to remove as many dirt particles as possible before washing with vinegar and water, or blotting with cold water only.

By now, you should have a firm understanding of the different types of area rugs that are the most popular today, and how best to clean these materials. Each different type of rug material must be cleaned in a different way, and it is important to be sure of what type of rug you own before you get started trying to remove a difficult stain or get ground-in dirt out of your rug. When you know what type of material you are working with, however, it is very easy to keep your rug clean and looking great for years to come.