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A Guide to Area Rug Cleaning

A Guide to Area Rug Cleaning

Rugs are essential additions to any room. No matter the size, the proper amount of color and texture can make your living space come to life. There’s no better time than now to get the perfect indoor area rug to suit your decor, or a pretty fade-resistant rug for the outdoors at Kohl’s.

Area rugs may bring a room together, but they can also take a beating, from heavy foot traffic to pets and spills. Rugs need to be vacuumed regularly and spot cleaned when there is a stain. However, once or twice a year it may help to give them a deep cleaning.

While professional deep cleaning is ideal, you can also clean and maintain your area rugs yourself. Deep cleaning your area rugs not only makes them look and smell better, but it will also help protect them from substantial wear and tear. Here’s what you need to know:

You Can Vacuum an Area Rug

You don’t have to wait until messes appear to vacuum your carpets and rugs. Although you may not want or need to vacuum every day, frequent vacuuming remains one of the best ways to keep your home clean. To keep your carpet looking and performing at its best, run your vacuum over high-traffic areas at least once or twice a week. Carpet cleaners are absolute must-haves when it comes to keeping your floors and rugs looking brand new.

Our assortment of carpet shampooers allows for whole-room carpet cleaning, while portable carpet cleaners help with everyday messes. Carpet cleaners and steam cleaners use warm or hot water for spot removal and carpet treatment. Also called carpet extractors, these devices spray the carpet, then use vacuum technology to brush the fibers and suck up the water, dirt, and stains.

Carpet shampooers use warm water mixed with soap to create a solution that the shampooer applies to the carpet. A revolving or rotary brush then works the foam or shampoo into the fibers to loosen the dirt.

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You Can Wash an Area Rug in the Washing Machine

Rugs can be washed in the washing machine, just like your towels, clothing and other around-the-house items made of fabric. That said, only certain rugs are able to be washed this way. Every washer comes with a load capacity recommendation. This is the best way to determine whether your machine will support your rug size. For example, a small 4’ x 2’ cotton rug or a 3’ round rug will fit in a 4 cubic foot machine. Conversely, a large 8’ x 5’ rug would work best in a machine that’s 5 cubic feet or larger. You can always refer to a rug measuring guide to determine which option is best for you.

Small area rugs made of cotton or synthetic fibers can be machine washed. Put them in the same load as your towels, and wash cold water on the gentle cycle. This will help keep the fabric looking new with ease. Don’t wash these rugs frequently in the washing machine, as eventually the process will erode any rubber nonslip backing and cause it to shed and break down. Also, avoid using the dryer for most area rugs—especially ones made of synthetic materials—as the heat can work to break down the fibers themselves.

No matter what, always check the tags attached to a rug for the manufacturer’s instructions on how to wash and clean a rug. Follow the guidelines as best you can to ensure the item stays looking fresh and new.

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You Can Hand Wash an Area Rug

Shampooing carpets and rugs is pretty simple, but there are a few tips that you’ll want to keep in mind. Using a sponge or soft-bristle brush, work rug shampoo or mild dish soap into a lather on the rug. Let the cleaner sit on the rug for at least 5 minutes before you start rinsing. If you’re outdoors, you can rinse the soap out using a garden hose or buckets of clean water. The cleaning solution can be removed either with a wet-dry vacuum or a squeegee. Let it air dry outside on a laundry drying rack. This may take 24 hours or more. However, if you can’t leave the rug outside for a long time, try moving it to your garage, basement or laundry room to continue air drying. Use a vacuum or brush to help revive any threads or fibers that may have been squished during the cleaning process.

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How to Clean Other Types of Rugs

The first step to cleaning a rug is to identify your rug’s material. This is important in prolonging its life, as different materials require unique area rug cleaning methods and materials. Here are a few rug materials to consider:

Shag Rugs

You’re sure to fall in love with the soft texture of a shag rug. However, one of the biggest issues with them is that most cannot be vacuumed without causing damage to them. However, if you do want to vacuum your rug, be sure not to vacuum any fringe. This can be avoided by turning off the beater bar to prevent tangling the long fibers. You could also use a handheld vacuum, going in row by row to try to remove everything caught in between those long strands. Cleaning shag rugs does take a little more effort, but the process should become easier once a regular routine is established.

For large rugs or those with tough stains, a professional cleaning may be the best course of action. But if your rug doesn’t fall into either of these categories, then this should be an easy DIY project for homeowners. As with all rugs, you’ll want to first read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Then, you can take the rug outdoors and give it a good shake. It is recommended that you leave them outdoors to soak up some sun rays for a short time to help kill bacteria and mites. Just be sure not to leave it outside too long as prolonged exposure to sunlight can sometimes fade a rug.

When you’re ready to wash, simply fill the tub with warm water and mix in a safe detergent. The rug should sit in the solution for 10 or more minutes before using a soft-bristled brush to remove any stains. Finally, rinse the rug and place it outside to dry or hang it inside of your home.

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Cotton is a lightweight, washable rug fiber. Like most rugs, they can be vacuumed or shaken out before being placed in a washing machine. Be sure to put the machine on a delicate cycle in cold water. It’s important to only wash one rug at a time. Once cleaned, the rug can be hung to dry. Large cotton rugs, on the other hand, may take a bit more effort, especially if your machine isn’t large enough.

After thoroughly vacuuming it out, sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the rug to neutralize any odors. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the powder gently into the fibers. Finally, vacuum all of the powder off and it should look good as new.

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Wool Rugs

Wool area rugs are ideal for high-traffic areas like living rooms and dining rooms. Many people opt for wool rugs because they’re durable and can maintain their color longer than other materials. Wool is strong, ensuring many years of use even in high-traffic areas. Wool also offers good protection against stains and spills, keeping it looking great year after year with little effort needed to keep it clean. However, they tend to hold dirt due to the way they’re woven and the makeup of the wool fibers themselves. They also aren’t ideal for damp places as wool absorbs humidity and moisture very easily.

The easiest way to keep your wool rug looking great for a long time is by vacuuming it regularly. For the first two to three months, additional vacuuming can help control the amount of shedding that the rug does. When spills occur, be sure to blot the area immediately with a clean, absorbent white cloth. Avoid using harsh cleaning solutions or scrubbing too much to keep the rug’s texture intact. If you do wish to clean with a solvent, use products designed specifically for wool. If you want to keep the rug always looking brand new, consider professional cleaning from time to time. Other ways to ensure the rug lasts for many years are to consistently rotate the rug, avoid placing it in direct sunlight, and place the rug over a rug pad to protect the rug’s foundation.

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Synthetic fiber area rugs are usually made from olefin, nylon or polypropylene. These types of rugs are relatively stain-resistant, and most products will not harm plastic fibers. You can vacuum this rug then take it outside and shake the dirt off. If there are any stains, use a spray bottle to apply a mild detergent across the surface of the rug. Be sure to use a soft brush to gently work the soap into the rug, then rinse and hang it to dry out.

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Jute Rugs

Jute rugs feature a natural look and feel, perfectly made to add stunning style to your home. They are very soft and almost offer the same texture and feel that wool does. This can be both positive and negative, as the softness will feel good on your feet as you walk on it, but it will also make the rug a bit less durable than other natural fiber rugs. Therefore, it’s best to place jute rugs in low- or medium-traffic areas of your home (i.e. – bedrooms, the dining room, etc.).

To properly care for your jute rug, be sure to regularly vacuum it. It will help to spot clean the rug should any spills occur. You’ll also want to be aware that since they’re made of natural fiber, jute rugs can “shed” a bit, especially when they are new. Some of the fibers may detach from the rug and need to be cleaned up. This should, however, become less of an issue as the rug gets older.

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Additional Tips for Maintaining Your Rugs

Rugs can last for several years if they’re well maintained. Although a big part of that maintenance is regular cleaning, there are other ways to ensure your rug lasts. Here’s what you can do:

  • Clean up spills right away to keep them from staining the rug.
  • Refrain from wearing shoes on clean rugs to keep mud and water from being tracked in.
  • If there are any lingering odors, try sprinkling a little baking soda or dry cleaning powder over the rug. Be sure to let it sit for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before vacuuming.
  • Rotate the rug every six months or so to allow for even wear.
  • Vacuum by hand to get more dirt out of the rug and keep the fibers looking great.

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