Often, the most distinguishing and beautiful feature of a favorite room is the large, ornate and exquisite area rug that proudly captures the attention of guests and household members alike. An area rug can be the boldest statement a room has to offer. If the rug is dirty or badly stained, however, the effect can be completely lost. Cleaning that treasured area rug can be a challenge, especially if the rug is large, delicate, or badly stained. There are many tips and tactics one can use to bring an area rug back up to its beautiful and dramatic standards.

General Cleaning for Small Rugs:

If your area rug is small and needs only a general washing, cleaning can be relatively simple. Take the rug outside to a deck or patio. Most rugs can be effectively cleaned with a high pressure stream of water. Spray the rug directly with a hose or pressure washer and allow it to dry thoroughly. If the rug is handmade or has delicate seams, however, do not use a high pressure spray. Dilute vinegar, ammonia, or a mild laundry detergent in a spray bottle of water and generously cover the rug. Gently scrub the rug with a soft-bristled scrub brush and rinse clean with a gentle hose. Always let your rug dry completely to prevent the colors from bleeding onto existing carpet.

General Cleaning for Large Rugs:

With area rugs that are too large to wash effectively at home, you have two options. One option is to take your large area rug to a car wash and clean the rug in the bed of a truck. It sounds comical, but the high pressure rinsing spray of a car wash hose is the perfect tool to clean accumulated dirt out of a rug. Spray from one end of the rug in a sweeping pattern and work your way to the opposite edge, pushing the dirt out of the carpet fibers and off your beautiful rug. If the large area rug is delicate or handmade, the safest option is to get it professionally cleaned at a dry cleaner’s or by a professional steam cleaning company.

Organic Stains:

If the unthinkable happens and a child or guest spills food, juice or even wine on your beautiful area rug, don’t despair. This kind of stain can be easily removed with hydrogen peroxide. Place a plastic bag underneath the stain (to prevent color bleeding) and douse the affected area with peroxide. Leave the peroxide for ten minutes, douse the stain again with water and blot the area until dry. Hydrogen peroxide will lift almost any organic stain but will not remove artificial dyes or colorings.

Tough Stains:

For tough, persistent stains that have not responded to treatment with hydrogen peroxide, the best course of action is a granular stain remover that can be purchased at most home improvement retail stores. Be sure to place a plastic bag beneath the stain before beginning this stain removal regimen. This will ensure that the colors of your area rug will not bleed onto existing carpet or damage hardwood flooring. Apply the granular stain remover according to the directions and blot (do not scrub, this will damage the fibers of your rug and drive the stain deeper into the fibers).

Continual Care:

The best tip for cleaning area rugs is to wash them regularly. Every six months, give your area rug a spruce to keep it looking fresh, bright and vibrant. Clean spills and stains as soon as possible: a fresh stain is easier to remove than a stain that has made itself at home!

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