Best Way To Keep Your Rug Clean is to keep it from getting dirty in the first place
How To Keep Your Rug Clean – Removing Footwear
Many people are worry about how to keep their rug clean. One way to avoid the wear and tear of high volume foot traffic is to restrict the use of footwear in the home.
In many countries where rug weaving is a respected and accepted art form, both residents and visitors are required to remove hard soled footwear upon entering a residence. Bare feet or those protected only by socks, put less stress on rug fibers. In addition, by removing your shoes, you can keep soil, dirt and debris from the outside world from being tracked throughout the home as well as your clean rug.
Even when placed in high traffic areas, it’s important, for the longevity of the rug, to clean it only when it’s truly needed. Rugs in both high and low traffic areas of the home may only need to be cleaned once every few years.
A professional rug cleaner can give any rug a thorough cleaning but make sure to do so only when it’s really needed.
How to Tell if a Rug Needs to be Cleaned
There are a few ways to determine if it is time to shampoo a home’s rugs. One way to examine larger rugs is by holding up one edge of the rug and kicking the bulk of the carpet from underneath. If the impact causes a generous cloud of dust or debris to be released, that’s an indication that a deep cleaning is needed, but bear in mind that carpet fibers and some dust is to be expected.
A method that will work on any sized rug is to kneel down and use one’s hand to uncover dirt. The hand should be rubbed vigorously against the rug’s pile fibers in an arching motion for five to 10 seconds. If this causes the individual’s hand to become dirty, the carpet should be cleaned soon.
A final method involves looking at the underside of the rug. Bend it back over itself, so the warp and weft can be examined. Signs of dirt here indicate that a deep cleaning is needed. If the dirt is embedded this deep into the rug, a typical vacuuming will not be enough to pull out the dirt.
Keep Your Rug Clean By Cleaning it Yourself
It’s not always necessary to hire professionals for a good rug cleaning.
- Vacuum each side of the rug thoroughly to clean it of excess debris. By both sides we mean vacuuming the backside of the rug first (the vibrations will shake loose dust and debris that are deeply embedded in the rug). After collecting all the dust from the floor, flip the rug to its front side and vacuum the face. Repeat this until there is very little to no dust left in the rug.
- Once the rug is dust free, its time to Shampoo the face / front side of the rug. Use only cool water, along with a mild liquid dish soap or shampoo specifically made for rugs. A good tool for this would be a soft brush with long bristles or a high-quality sponge that won’t shed. Wet the brush liberally with the water, soap and the bubbly suds. Brush the fibers firmly in the direction of the nap, careful not to apply too much pressure.
There are a couple things to consider in selecting the proper detergent for this type of cleaning job. In choosing the best detergent, check ingredients to ensure it doesn’t contain ammonia of any kind. Also, it’s a good idea to test one small segment of the carpet for color runs, before proceeding to shampoo the entire rug.
- For a deep clean, use a lot of the solution water. Then use the brush or sponge to scrub away from the carpet, so dirty water will be pushed out of the fibers. Repeat this process several times for best results. Rinse the rug thoroughly with clean, running water, ensuring to wash out excess soap and lingering soil.
- For a lighter clean or for cleaning antique rugs specifically, we suggest using very little water. You may even only want to use the soapy suds and brush them lightly into the rug’s pile. By constantly washing the brush in the water, you will remove the dirt from the rug and wash it off in the solution.
- If you cleaned your rug with a lot of water, try to squeeze out all the excess water. The best tool for this is a rubber window / floor squeegee, but one’s hands may work in a pinch. Push the excess water out in the direction of the nap and repeat this process as needed to get as much of the water out.
- Dry the rug completely, front and back. Lay the rug flat on the floor with the face of the rug pointing up. Then place items underneath it allow air to circulate through the rug until it feels dry to the touch (this will help ensure that it wont get damaged by dry rot setting in). If you have the ability to hang it that may be the best. To hasten the drying process you may want to use fans to push more air through and around the rug.
- Any stiffness in the rug’s fibers can be brushed out with a vacuum or a soft bristled brush after the now clean rug has dried out completely.
This method can be done by anyone and is the best way to rid a rug of deeply embedded soil and debris. This is best done on a clean driveway, garage floor or any large surface. Even one’s utility room may also suffice, but one should use his or her best judgment.
Keep Your Rug Clean Amidst Spills
People need to feel free to use and enjoy the rugs they buy. As part of daily use, spills do happen but don’t panic or get upset when they do.
By working on any spills, as they occur, you greatly reduce the chances of any long term damage.
Pet urine accidents are one of the most common types of spills. These are one of the more problematic accidents to deal with. Urine stains will likely harden the foundation of the rug and they will leave an odor. With repeated urination, the rug’s foundation may crack and break. Also, since urine is very acidic, it may actually bleach the colors and create discolored area so getting to these stains quickly is vital.
How to clean spills and urine from your rug:
If you get to the affected area quickly, first use a cloth or rag to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Next, a smaller rug (if the rug is safe for a deep wash) can be cleaned outside with a hose and cool water.
If the rug is large, you can clean portions of it in a basin or bucket. In these instances, press the affected area down into the basin. Be careful not to put too much weight on it, or tipping may occur. Pour cool water over the affected area of the carpet in the basin.
*In either case, add 1 cup of white vinegar for every gallon of rinse water to help deter color running and to rid the carpet of urine or food odors.
Once the rug or the affected area has been rinsed, make a solution that consists of 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 tsp of liquid dish washing detergent and two cups of tepid water. Use this solution to sponge or blot the affected area of the rug thoroughly and then let it dry. If possible, drape the carpet or rug over a lawn chair or sawhorse. This will allow both sides to dry simultaneously and quicken the process.
In cases where a pet (or child) accident involves vomit or fecal matter, remove the solid material first. It’s best to clean it up without spreading, because this may increase the risk of a larger stain. Next, clean the carpet as directed above, being cautious to blot and not to scrub.
Again, scrubbing could cause the affected area to spread and may create a deeper stain.
*** Always remember to clean WITH the direction of the nap.
A Note About White Vinegar and Cleaning Rugs
The majority of oriental rugs use acid fast and natural rug dyes. When adding the white vinegar to carpet washing water, the solution is given a higher acidic rating, which strengthens the bond between the dye and the fibers of the rug. This process creates better protection against color running or fading.
Whether a liquid spill or a pet accident involving solid matter, always finish by sponging the area with cool and clean water. Absorbent towels or a non shedding brush is best for this part of the process, though a soft bristled brush may also be used.
Push in the direction of the nap, but bear in mind that scrubbing too hard could cause the fibers to loosen. Towels should be placed under the rug to keep the underlying floor and any padding from soaking up the water (though we do strongly suggest that you remove the under pad before you begin cleaning your rugs).
Be sure that the backside of the rug is completely dry, before removing the towels…. both the nap and underlying side of the rug should both be thoroughly dry.