How to Clean a Rug: Area Rugs, Oriental Rugs, and More
Could your area rug use a deep clean? Learn how to clean a rug yourself and you can bring all your floor coverings back to life whenever you like. Area rugs may bring a room together, but they also takes a beating, from foot traffic to pets and spills. After a while, vacuuming just isn’t enough to get it truly clean—and that’s when knowing how to do it yourself comes in super handy.
Area rug cleaning is a project you can easily take on yourself. There’s no need to hire professional rug cleaners for the task—unless your rug is extremely delicate (for example, an antique rug, Persian rug, or oriental rug).
Note: There’s no need to clean rugs on a schedule. Instead, you should just clean the rugs when they are visibly dirty or have an odor. Read on to find out how to refresh those well-worn area rugs so they look as good as they did when you first unrolled them.
1. Gather Your Tools and Supplies
Here's exactly what you'll need to have on hand to complete a successful area rug cleaning:
- Rug shampoo (or mild dish soap)
- Soft-bristle brush or sponge
- Rubber gloves
- Garden hose
- Wet-dry vacuum
2. Remove Dirt and Debris
Thoroughly vacuum on the rug on both sides. You want to make sure every last bit of debris is gone. If you have pets, use the brush attachment to get any lingering stray hairs.
3. Mix Your Cleaner
When it comes to the actual cleaning solution, you can use a rug shampoo like this one from Bissell. Whatever shampoo you choose, follow its specific directions (found on the bottle) for mixing.
Alternatively, you can also use mild dish detergent mixed in a bucket with warm water. Do not use hot water as it can shrink the rug or cause fading.
4. Do a Color Test
Before you start scrubbing, make sure the cleaner doesn’t cause the colors to run. Test the solution on the corner of the rug to make sure it is colorfast. If the color doesn't bleed, it's safe to move on to the next step.
5. Wash the Rug
Using a sponge or soft-bristle brush, work the cleaning solution into a lather on the rug. Let the cleaner sit on the rug for a five minutes before you start rinsing. Anything less than that and you'll shortchange the cleaning process. Give it those five minutes to set in and start lifting away dirt.
6. Rinse the Rug
Rinse the soap out of the rug using a garden hose or buckets of clean water. Make sure all the cleaning solution is completely removed from the area rug and the runoff water is crystal clear.
7. Remove Excess Water
At this point, you’ll want to get rid of as much excess water in the rug as you can so it will dry faster. You can use a wet-dry vacuum if you have one, or use a squeegee in the direction of the nap.
8. Let the Rug Dry
The next-to-last step to clean an area rug is simply letting it dry. Lay the rug flat and allow the top of the rug to dry completely. Then, flip it over to let the bottom side dry. Fans can help speed up the process. Make sure the rug is fully dry before you return it to the room.
9. Vacuum or Brush Out the Rug
During the cleaning process, threads and fibers can get compacted and squished. Revive them by running a vacuum over the now-dry rug, or brush them with a soft-bristled brush. Now you're finished, and can enjoy your freshly cleaned carpet. You know how to clean an area rug yourself, and you can complete the job whenever you like.