Rugs, especially wool rugs add great comfort, color and warmth to your home. The practically warm up your wooden and cold tiled floors and give life to lifeless rooms. They may be a bit expensive than carpets and other types, but if well maintained, they prove to be a great investment which will serve your home for many years to come.
Wool rugs are generally durable and crush resistant but are unfortunately moderately resistant to foot traffic, dirt, dust and stains and spills. It’s thus important that you regularly clean your wool rug to prevent any dulling or fading of colors.
However as wool is made using natural fibers, they need some additional care while cleaning. Moreover, many of today’s higher end carpets including Persian and Oriental rugs which claim to be made from wool are actually made from synthetic fibers.
If you are unsure about the material of your rug, you can test it by snipping a strand and lighting it with a match. If it smells like burning hair, then you know that it is wool. While most people think that cleaning wool rugs is a difficult job, it’s not. All you have to do is follow the instructions mentioned here and cleaning your wool rug will be a cinch.
Shake off loose dirt
You start off by taking your wool rug outside and shaking off any accumulated loose dirt and dust. Make sure the rug is dry to do this, as shaking wet rugs only end up with the dirt getting even further embedded in the rug. If possible, hang the wool rug on a clothesline, and beat it with a broom to shake it clean.
Your wool rug sheds excess wool fibers left from the weaving process during its first few years to give a fuzzy appearance all over the rug. This is why you should vacuum your wool rug regularly. Now start vacuuming your rug in a ‘V’ action while alternating the vacuum’s direction instead of vacuuming in straight lines, going back and forth. Repeat this thrice.
This helps prevent any possible crushing of the rug’s fibers. It is always better to vacuum your wool rug at least twice a week to prevent the buildup of dirt on it. Vacuuming helps remove loose fuzz, dirt and surface dust before they settle deep into the rug, and become difficult to remove. Moreover, this dirt can also end up scratching the wool fibers to make your rug look worn out. Along with this, make it a habit to vacuum the rug’s underside once in two months. (source)
While vacuuming, set the vacuum to a high height setting to avoid its rotating brush creating excessively agitating the rug. This is essential as too much agitation can lead to the shrinkage, pilling and overall damage to wool fibers. The beater bar brushes just have to lightly touch the rug while vacuuming to remove the dirt without agitating the wool rug fibers too much. For best effects, maintain the vacuum bag or canister at half full by constantly emptying it as required.
Trimming your wool rug also helps as it prevents the formation of pills. The tangling of fibers lead to pills and eventual hard and tiny masses. Sometimes sprouts, which is a tuft of wool rising above your rug pile, may also form. So use a pair of sharp scissors to trim off all sprouts and pills.
Cleaning spots and stains
No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance of stains ending up on your wool rug. It is important that you remove the stain as quickly as possible to prevent long term staining. So if a stain does occur, the first thing to do is blot the rug using a clean white towel to remove as much moisture from the mess or stain as possible.
Do not scrub or rub while attempting to remove the stain as it only deepens it. Do not use colored towels as there’s a chance of its dye getting transferred to the wool rug. In case something solid falls on the carpet, scoop out most of it using a spoon first and then work at removing its stain.
If you don’t know what had caused the stain, first try and remove the stain by blotting the area with cold water and then placing a dry towel on top of the wet area. Then using your hands, put your body weight on different parts of the towel so that it absorbs as much moisture as possible. Repeat this while turning the towel and blotting using the dry parts till most of the spot is dried.
If this doesn’t work, then mix a tsp. of mild laundry detergent in a bucket of cold water and using a white, clean cloth, gently apply the solution to the soiled region. Blot dry and repeat till the stain comes off. Then rinse the spot using cold water and use a stack of paper towels to cover the area and thoroughly dry your rug. When the rug is dry, gently brush its pile back into place using your fingertips.
You can also try mixing half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to 2 cups of water and half cup white vinegar. Use a clean sponge to gently scrub the mixture into the area so that you can maintain the wool rug’s polished look.
Whichever solution you try to remove stains with, you need to first spot treat a small area of the rug to find out if the rug bleeds or reacts adversely with the cleaning agent. To be safe, it’s better to avoid dry powder cleaners, oxycleaners, bleach, hydrogen peroxide or alkaline sodas containing soda ash to treat and clean your wool rug. Dry powder cleaners shouldn’t be used as they leave behind a residue that’s difficult to remove.
Shampooing the wool rug
Once all the dirt and stains have been removed, it’s time to shampoo the rug. Do this by sponging the rug and washing the rug fringes with cool water and some rug shampoo or mild liquid soap. Make the rug wet, especially the nap of the rug, which is the soft side of the rug when you brush your hand against the rug towards the outer edge in linear motion.
Then rinse off the soapy solution from the rug by hosing it down. Make sure all the soap residue is removed and then dry the rug. This has to be done immediately and extensively by squeezing the rug or hanging it out to dry under the sun.
This eliminates all the excess moisture on the rug. However do not place the wool rug in a dryer. If required, you can use heaters or turn on the ceiling fan to speed up the drying process. Do not keep the rug in the sun for too long as prolonged sun exposure can shrink the rug.
Turn the rug over once its nap is dry, to dry the back of the rug. It’s important that both sides of the rug are completely dried before placing it on the floor. Wet rugs form the perfect breeding place for bacteria. In case you notice that the wool rug is a bit stiff after drying, you just have to vacuum the rug another time or brush it gently to revive its softness.
Besides all this, you also have to deep clean your rug using a rug cleaning machine at least once a year. This helps remove all the ground-in soils and stubborn grime in the rug. However do follow your rug manufacturer’s instructions about the deep cleaning solution to use to clean your rug.
Wool rug maintenance tips
- If you wonder if it’s time to clean your wool rug, you can find out how dirty it is by lifting a corner and kicking its back. If you find any dirt coming out, it indicates that the rug is indeed dirty and has to be cleaned. Of course, if nothing happens, then it’s clean and needs no cleaning.
- You can keep your new rug clean in between washes by vacuuming twice or thrice a week for the first year. Areas with high traffic need weekly vacuuming while older rugs and rugs placed in areas with less traffic need vacuuming every few months.
- Avoid vacuuming with vacuums having brush or beater bars and only use vacuums with suction-type options.
- It’s helpful if you rotate your rug once or twice a year so that you can regulate how often parts of the rug gets stepped on. Rotate your rugs at a 180 degree angle every now and then to counteract all the rug’s foot traffic patterns.
- Try to reduce the amount of sunlight your rug is exposed to as it only weakens and dries the wool. You could perhaps add some shade to sunny rooms or apply UV filters to windows.