Area Rug Cleaning Tips

Area rug on floorIt’s the consummate circle of life, right? Make things clean, get things dirty. Scrub, rinse, repeat. There are no exceptions to this inevitability with the area rugs in your home. Dust, dirt, sand, animals, moisture, spills and foot traffic all have an impact on the appearance and condition of your rugs. We’ll cover a few handy area rug cleaning tips to preserve the life of your floor coverings.

Utilize Area Rug Pads

Having the proper foundation underneath your rug will keep it secured in place, help it retain its original appearance, prevent premature aging and protect your floorboards underneath. Use the proper pad, whether you’re talking about area rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting.

Rotate Your Area Rugs

At least once a year, rotate your rug to ensure even wear. Sunlight can cause rug fading and foot traffic causes considerable wear to rugs. Rotating the rug will help avoid excessive fading and deterioration.

Vacuum Frequently

Vacuuming is an essential part of preventative rug maintenance. Embedded dirt and sand act as abrasives and can break down the fibers of your rug with the help of foot traffic. Your rugs should be vacuumed at least once a month. (Once per week is ideal, but may not be realistic.) If you’ve got a wool rug, it’s okay to use a beater bar/rotating brush vacuum on the back of the rug. A suction attachment should be used for the front for a gentle yet effective approach. For synthetic area rugs, you’re safe to use the beater bar/rotating brush vacuum on both the front and the back. Be very careful not to vacuum fringes and tassels. These thin threads can get easily sucked into your vacuum and become damaged. Sweep underneath them with a broom and then fluff by hand. If your rug is small and easy to handle, shake it off outside to remove these particles.

Act Fast When Spills Occur

You’ll preserve the life of your area rug by cleaning up spills immediately when they occur. If spot is liquid, blot using a dry, clean cotton towel by pressing down from the outside of the spill, pressing toward the center. Repeat this several times, folding your towel to access a clean section onto which you can continue blotting until you’ve absorbed as much moisture as possible. Be careful never to rub in a circle. This can cause permanent damage to your rug as it breaks down the fibers and pushes the spill further inside the rug. If you’ve got a milk spill, rinse the area thoroughly with water and mild detergent to prevent souring. If you’re dealing with red wine spills, blot with equal parts Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide. We’ll cover additional stain sources in future posts.

Be Wary of Carpet Shampoos

While shampoos and sprays can be perfectly helpful in your home, do be aware that these solvents can fade or damage certain rugs. Carpet shampoos are typically made for synthetic wall to wall carpet, not wool area rugs. Be sure to read the product label before applying any spot cleaners or shampoos, and make sure to thoroughly rinse the product from your rug after use. If any soap residue remains, it will attract even more dirt. Before applying cleaners or shampoos to your rug, spray a very small section and blot with a damp white cotton towel to ensure the colors don’t bleed. If you’ve accidentally damaged your rug through over-the-counter cleaners, contact a professional service for guidance.

Roll Rugs When Moving or Storing

Take note that rugs should always be rolled, never folded. When transporting, placed your rolled rug on top of furniture so as not to crush or damage. Any creases that occur in your rug during storage or transport will ease after it’s laid flat. If you’ve got a stubborn corner sticking up, place a chair or heavy object over it for a couple days to flatten it out again. For long-term storage, you need to have your rug professionally cleaned and wrapped in a clean breathable material.

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit our contact page, or call 314-227-3928.


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