How to Clean an Area Rug to Keep It Looking Its Best

The right area rug pulls a room together. It creates a harmonious synergy of color in your design scheme while adding visual flair with pattern or texture. But because of its very nature, a rug needs regular maintenance to keep looking its best. If you’re wondering how to clean a rug, it’s easy when you keep in mind some simple guidelines. 


  • Read labels

Different materials call for different types of care and cleaning methods. How to clean a wool rug, for instance, wouldn’t be the same as how to clean a sisal area rug. Read the manufacturer’s tag on your rug, which should list the type of material used as well as the recommended cleaning directions. Following the instructions ensures you’ll get good results without damaging the rug.


  • Rug size matters, too.

Figuring out how to clean a large area rug shouldn’t be daunting. You can simply treat it like a carpet and vacuum out the dirt. If your rug is smaller (and machine washable), you can pop it in a mesh bag or pillowcase and launder it at home. Otherwise, take your rug outside and beat out the dirt.


  • Invest in a rug brush.

This is a handy tool to have on hand. Use it to clean a shag area rug if the long shag gets caught in your vacuum cleaner. Sprinkle the shag with baking soda, let it sit for about a half-hour, then shake the rug and brush it out. A brush can also get those stray dog or cat hairs your vacuum misses on flat or short pile rugs. 


  • Vacuum carefully.

Regular vacuuming with a rolling brush may not be best for rugs because it can be too rough on the fibers. Instead, use the gentler technique of suctioning dirt away with the vacuum nozzle. 


  • Be careful with decorative elements.

You don’t want to damage tassels or fringe on your rug. Take care to avoid vacuuming your rug near them. You may also want to gather fringe together in small groups with string if you wash the rug in a machine to avoid tangled fringes.


  • Be proactive with spills.

Don‚Äôt let a wine spill become an unsightly stain. Treat a spill as soon as possible, within the care guidelines for your rug. You may use a carpet spot cleaner, rubbing alcohol, or a mix of dish soap, vinegar and water, depending on the type of stain. No matter what cleaning technique you use, blot‚ÄĒnever rub‚ÄĒthe stained area.¬†


  • Protect your flooring when you clean the rug.

This is a necessary step on how to clean an area rug at home. If your rug is too big to machine wash or take outside, lift it up and place a towel, blanket or another protective layer underneath so your flooring remains safely covered during cleaning. Also, if you wash your rug or spot clean a stain, don’t put the rug back onto the floor until it’s thoroughly dry.


  • Use carpet cleaner wisely.

Determining how to clean an area rug with a steam cleaner depends on the rug material, of course. Follow all instructions, both for your rug’s care and for the carpet cleaner. Alternatively, consider if using a dry solvent is an option to clean the rug if you don’t want it to get wet.


  • Err on the side of caution.

While you may want to clean your area rug at home, it may not be possible if your rug is vintage or made with delicate fibers. In those cases, seek out a dry cleaner who specializes in rug cleaning. If you are cleaning your own rug, always spot test any cleaner you’ll use to make sure it won’t damage the rug.


  • Rotate rugs regularly.

Sometimes rugs are placed in such a way that only certain parts of it get a lot of foot traffic‚ÄĒthink of a bedroom rug that‚Äôs partially under your bed, for instance. To avoid uneven wear, rotate the rugs at least once a year, perhaps as part of your spring cleaning.


  • Set up a cleaning schedule.

Basic vacuuming, washing or beating the rug should be done once a week, ideally, at the same time you’re mopping or vacuuming your floors. This takes care of the usual dirt and grime that can build up during daily life. Every four to six weeks, flip smaller area rugs over and clean that side, too. About once a year, either deep clean your rugs or take them to the dry cleaner. 

It‚Äôs easy to integrate rug care into your cleaning schedule. It‚Äôs even easier to find beautiful area rugs at Elegant Strand. Our rug collection features distinctive designs with attractive colors and a luxurious feel. Incredibly plush and durable, thanks to exceptional construction, you can choose from subtle patterns or powerful abstracts. Browse Elegant Strand‚Äôs selection of sophisticated rugs‚ÄĒthese rugs add immediate impact to your space.