Area rugs play an important part at complementing your home décor well. However this is possible only if they are maintained well as they can get really dirty, especially if placed in high traffic areas or with kids and pets around.
As area rugs trap dust, odors, oils, mud and dirt, you have to clean them on a regular basis as irregular cleaning takes away years from its life. It’s up to you to decide if you want to clean your area rug manually or with a carpet cleaner which you can rent or buy.
Of course, carpet cleaners give a better clean with minimal effort from your part. Whatever option you choose, clean your area rugs at least once a month and clean spots as soon as they occur.
Area rug cleaning once a month is okay, it needs regular vacuuming to prevent the buildup of any dirt and to keep your home clean and allergen free. Vacuuming it is the first step for cleaning both loop and cut pile area rugs to prevent the buildup of dirt, oil, spills and dust.
The best way to remove maximum dirt from the rug is to first turn the rug upside down, and then vacuum its back. This helps loosen the dirt stuck at the base of the rug to make it easy to remove. However do not vacuum over the rug’s fringe.
You need to use a vacuum with a good suction to remove surface dirt, especially for looped rugs as there’s a chance of its loops getting damaged. Cut pile rugs on the contrary need rougher treatment as you not only have to remove the surface dirt but also loosen any dirt sunk to its core by agitating the pile.
This is why it’s better using a vacuum with a beater or brush bar here to lift any residue left in the rug. Whichever method you use, make sure you the soil storage bag doesn’t fill to the hilt while vacuuming as to avoid unnecessary accidents of the dirt spilling from the machine.
As vacuum may not remove any pet hair on the rug, its better using a stiff brush to remove the hair. Make sure you brush the brush in the rug’s fiber’s direction. Moreover, if you have a rather small area rug, you can always take it outside to shake and beat vigorously and remove dirt and grime. However be careful and check with your local codes while doing this as some areas have objections about shaking rugs outdoors!
Area rug cleaning
Vacuuming only helps remove the dirt and soil on the area rug. It doesn’t help remove any oily substances on the rug, which can start matting up if left alone. This leads to the rug forming ridges and dimming of colors and is eventually even much more difficult to clean.
This is why it’s important you clean your rug when the first signs of dullness appear. First check the rug’s care labels to find out if it should be dry-cleaned, spot-cleaned or laundered. Rugs with a dry-cleaning-only label means that the rug is not colorfast and thus may bleed. It’s better to test before spot-cleaning these rugs.
While there are various methods to use to clean your rug, all basically require clean clothes or paper towels, a cleaning solution and some warm water. Most important, you shouldn’t rub the rug as it may make the rug fuzzy. While you should clean your area rug at least once a month, all stains should be cleaned as soon as they occur.
Removing and cleaning different stains
Most area rugs are stain resistant, thus delaying the setting in of the stain, wherein you get time to act. However you need to act quickly to treat the stain or spill to prevent it from getting absorbed by the rug and drying up.
The first thing you need to do is scoop up as much of the spill as possible and blot the remainder liquid using a dry cloth or paper towel. Then blot again after applying some warm water to the stain. In case the stain is still visible, mix some warm water with a mild, non-bleach laundry detergent and apply to the stain using a clean cloth.
Let is soak for about 5 minutes, rinse the stain again with warm water, and blot to extract the residue. Repeat this procedure till there is no detergent residue on the rug and then vacuum the area once the rug is completely dry.
How to handle different stains
As different stains require different cleaning treatments, you need to identify the stain’s source and nature to effectively treat it. Remember, quick action is important to remove stains as the longer it is absorbed by the rug, the more difficult it is to remove it. So remove the moisture from stains as quickly as possible by blotting AND not rubbing it.
In case of alcohol and blood stains, warm water and detergent is enough to remove the stain. For shoe polish, butter, asphalt and most makeup stains, it should be first cleaned using dry cleaning solvent and then cleaned using warm water and detergent.
Coffee and tea stains can be removed by mixing a detergent solution of a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent, ¼ tsp. white vinegar and a quart of warm water. Then apply the mixture to the stain, rinse and blot dry. In case the stain is stubborn, then you can try a commercial spot carpet cleaner to remove it.
Urine stains have to first be treated with warm water and detergent and then with a solution of 1:3 white vinegar and water. Vomit has to be treated first with warm water and detergent, and then dry cleaning solvent.
Any chewing gum on the area rug can be removed by first peeling whatever is possible. Harden the remaining gum with the help of some ice cubes in a plastic bag and then use a dull knife or spoon to remove the hardened gum. Then vacuum and treat the area using warm water and detergent if required.
In case of wax, it too has to be frozen using ice and removed using a spoon or dull knife. Then vacuum the area rug and treat it using dry cleaning solvent, water and detergent. Wine stains can be removed using talcum powder and then warm water and detergent.
If there are paint stains, you need to treat it based on the type of paint that had stained it. Spot clean acrylic and latex paint when it is still wet with the same detergent solution mentioned above. If the color remains, try dabbing it with rubbing alcohol. In case of oil-based paint, sponge it off using odorless mineral spirits while making sure it does not soak through to the backing.
Tomato sauce stains can be removed by sponging it with cool water and then dabbed with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Then rinse using a solution of a cup of vinegar and 2 cups water and blot the area till dry.
Deep area rug cleaning
Area rugs are preferably deep cleaned every 12-18 months. Once you are done vacuuming and spot cleaning all stains on the area rug, you can start cleaning it. As usual, first time use of commercial cleaning products should be tested on a small area of the rug to ensure the rug is colorfast and doesn’t get damaged by the product.
Place the rug on a vinyl or concrete surface and then rub in a carpet-cleaning solution to create a foam according to directions. Complete the task by rinsing or vacuuming the rug and make sure it is dry before replacing. Remember, all it takes is 24-48 hours for bacteria and mold to start breeding on damp and heavy area rugs!
Make sure all excess detergent is removed while cleaning, and don’t use strong solutions for the cleaning job as it only spoils the rug. Avoid putting too much water on the rug while cleaning as it may damage the seams and lead to discoloration, stinky odors and shrinkage. If required, you can use a fan to dry the area rug quickly after cleaning it. Just make sure the area rug is completely dried before you place your furniture back in place and before anyone walks on it.
As foot traffic and sun may stress your area rugs, you need to turn them once or twice a year. This helps even out the wear and tear on the carpet and any deterioration due to foot traffic.
Do put your area rug pad back in place after cleaning it as it helps protect your rug from wear and tear. Not only does the pad help while keeping furniture in place, it also prevents people from slipping on it.