Rugs are often expensive and delicate, which can make them a challenge to keep clean and in good condition. Understanding how to properly clean and maintain your rugs can save you a good deal of money in the long run. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to clean your rugs without damaging them.
Maintaining a Clean Rug – The simplest way to keep your rugs clean is by vacuuming them regularly, at least once per month, or more often if you have kids, pets, or heavy traffic. The trick is to vacuum the back of the rug first. By cleaning the back first, the beater bar on your vacuum cleaner will help push ground-in dirt up to the top of the rug. The beater bar can be used on synthetic rugs only. For wool rugs, you must rely only on suction. Be sure to avoid vacuuming tassels or fringes. They will get caught in the beater bar or torn up by the suction. Simply fluff them up a bit by hand.
Rotate your rugs after vacuuming to avoid uneven wear and tear. Furniture can leave impressions or uneven fading, while foot traffic can wear what looks like a path on your rug. If you are moving, be sure to roll the rugs up for transport. This will stop lines and creases from forming on them. This rule also applies when transporting for other reasons, such as dry cleaning or steam cleaning.
You should also periodically clean your rugs with a vinegar and water solution to restore their original color and shine. Mix one cup of vinegar to three cups of water and use it to dampen a sponge. Use the sponge to carefully blot it while going in the direction of the pile. Allow it to dry indoors, as the sun can bleach the colors.
Steam cleaning or shampooing your rugs will certainly get them clean, but keep in mind that these methods are not effective at removing any type of insect infestation. For bug problems, sprinkle some borax on the rugs. The borax should stay on the rug for 20 minutes before you vacuum. That will give it enough time to destroy all of the insects, larvae, and eggs. If you have pets, do not let them in the room while you are working, as borax can irritate their airways if they inhale any of it.
Treating Spots and Stains – Clean any spots or stains as soon as they occur, however, you must test the rug for colorfastness first by dabbing with a damp, white towel. Before proceeding with a treatment, read the rug’s tag first to determine whether it is made from wool or synthetic materials. You cannot use commercial spot cleaners or shampoos on wool rugs. If you do use a shampoo or spot cleaner, you must remove all traces of soap residue. Soap residue actually attracts dirt. Be sure to lift the rug off of the floor to dry to avoid water damage to your floor. Smaller rugs can be draped over a chair with a fan blowing on them to dry.
It is important to blot any spills before cleaning with a clean, white, cotton towel working from the outside edges to the middle. Be sure to press hard to blot up as much liquid as possible. Be sure to work in a straight line. If you use a circular motion, you can actually damage the fibers of your rug.
Mild stains or mud can usually be cleaned by simply blotting and vacuuming. Other stains will require some use of chemicals to remove them. When using chemicals, you will want to choose a mild acid to remove the stain and a mild dish detergent to clean debris and disinfect.
If the spill is from a perishable food or drink, you will need to rinse the area completely with a mild dish soap and water or the perishable materials will turn sour. Use one part dish detergent to two parts water, moisten a clean, white towel, and blot as much of it as possible. You can also use a solution of one part water, one part dish detergent, and three parts acid for more difficult perishable messes. If the rug is not made of wool, you can also add one part ammonia to disinfect it.
Pet urine spills can be eliminated by mixing a solution of 1/3 part dish detergent, one part vinegar, and three parts water. Continue to blot the stain with a white towel dipped in the solution until the stain and odor disappear. When using vinegar to clean any type of stain, remember to use white vinegar and not red.
If your rug is soaked, dry it out the best you can and take it to the dry cleaner’s for treatment.
Cleaning Special types of Rugs – Some braided or woven rugs are machine washable. Check the tag to be sure and to read the specific care instructions. They should be placed in a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag before laundering.
For antique, oriental, handmade, or hand knotted rugs, vacuum them regularly with care and have them professionally cleaned once per year. When vacuuming delicate or antique rugs, place a mesh screen over the rug, weight it down, and vacuum over the screen. When purchasing antique rugs, be sure to ask the seller for care tips.
Natural fiber rugs are weaved in a way that much of the dirt drops down to the floor beneath them. Vacuum both sides of the rug with care and be sure to vacuum the floor underneath them. If the rug is reversible, be sure to flip it to the opposite side each time you vacuum to ensure even wear. For stain removal, use a soft brush dipped in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and dry it as quickly as possible.
By following the above guidelines, your rugs will stay clean, fresh, and beautiful for years to come.