Rug Maintaining Tips
This section on rug cleaning has some of the most important information for any rug owner. You might want to add this site to your list of favorites so you can get back to this page quickly and easily.
Depending on its location, an area rug might be subjected to lots of abuse. Things like dirt, dust, sand, oily cooking residue, moisture (especially in kitchen or bathroom areas), along with spills and foot traffic can have an impact on the appearance and the life of your rugs.
Some rugs may look as though they’re losing their vibrant color when often it’s just a matter of the color being camouflaged by soil and grime. The fibers of a rug can become packed and matted if dirt, dust and other particles are not removed on a regular basis. Also, when fibers become packed and matted, some rugs have a tendency to attract and hold even more particles.
As much as I’d like to find one, there’s no such thing as a self-cleaning rug. They need the right kind of rug cleaning to be at their best. You can use the services of Fred Remmers Rug Cleaners if you happen to live in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri
We’ll look at general guidelines as well as more specific rug cleaning tips for different types of rugs.
Although it has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, something that certainly bears repeating is the strong suggestion to use the proper rug pad under all rugs! This applies whether the rug is on a hardwood floor or on wall-to-wall carpeting.
A rug pad keeps your rug from sliding around, plus it can help your rug retain its original appearance longer and extend the life of the rug by preventing premature aging of the rug.
Rotate Your Rugs
It is recommended that you rotate your rugs at least once a year. This means turning the rug end for end or 180 degrees. This helps the rug to wear more evenly. Sunlight can cause fading and traffic patterns can cause uneven wear and rug cleaning just can’t undo that. So, rotate your rugs and avoid excessive fading or deterioration.
Most pictorial rugs do not fall under this guideline of rug rotation since they might feature a design or scene that is best when the rug is placed one certain way.
Vacuum (or Shake) Your Rugs
Vacuuming is an essential part of rug cleaning for most rugs because dirt and sand act as abrasives and can damage or break down the fibers of your rug.
I said ‘most rugs’ in the previous statement because it is better to shake out a few types of rugs, such as a flokati rug or a leather shag rug, rather than to vacuum them. After shaking a flokati rug, the fibers can be gently ‘combed’ or ‘raked’.
Some rugs, such as those made from sisal or bamboo, can be shaken OR vacuumed.
Smaller rugs can be shaken by hand. Hold one end of the rug and shake it so you give it a good ‘snap’ to loosen dirt and other particles. Then, do the same while holding the opposite end of the rug.
Rugs that are too large to be shaken in this manner can be hung over a fence or a clothesline and beaten on the back/bottom of the rug with a broom handle or similar object.
Although some rug experts advise vacuuming expensive or elaborate rugs on a daily basis, it’s a fact of life that most people already have enough to do and daily vacuuming is not always going to happen.
So, the best thing is to fit it in as often as possible. Keep in mind that rugs in busy areas, such as a family room or hallway, need to be vacuumed more often than rugs in areas with less activity or traffic.
There are some people who believe the vacuuming of rugs should be done with suction only (using just the hose and an attachment) and that the rotating beater bar should not be used on any rugs.
Many other people with an opinion about rug cleaning feel it is okay to use the beater bar on cut pile rugs as long as basic guidelines are followed.
These vacuuming tips apply no matter whether the hose and an attachment are used or the beater bar is used.
Change the vacuum bag or empty the dustbin regularly. A vacuum will lose efficiency as the bag/bin becomes more than half-full and letting a bag/bin get completely full could damage the motor.
Some new rugs might need to be vacuumed more often during the first year due to fuzz on the rug. This ‘fuzzing’ is normal and it does not shorten the life of your rug in any way. It is the result of loose fibers that cling to the rug during the weaving process. Vacuum rugs by going over them in both directions, especially on rugs with a traffic pattern. This will help prevent matting.
NOTE: Contrary to that last statement, some experts advise that vacuuming a rug should be done only in the direction of the pile; in the same way a cat is stroked. Please understand that different opinions are shown because it just seems fair to present both points of view and leave it up to you to decide what is best in your particular situation.
Vacuuming Tips for Cut Pile Area Rugs
Cut pile rugs have a smooth, even surface that is created when the tops of the loops are cut off. A vacuum with a rotating beater bar will vibrate or gently agitate the rug pile allowing particles to become loosened and suctioned into the vacuum. If suction only is used on cut pile rugs without the benefit of a beater bar, it will remove surface particles but could leave other particles imbedded in the rug that can cause excess wear and tear through abrasion. Adjust the height of the beater bar so that it will lightly vibrate the rug. If the beater bar is set too low, it could cause the vacuum motor to slow down as well as cause damage to the rug. Check to make sure the beater bar is rotating properly. A worn or loose belt may cause the bar to operate less efficiently. Be careful with rugs that have fringe on the ends. Do not run the beater bar over the fringe because part of the fringe may get caught and be pulled out.
Vacuuming Tips for Rugs with Looped Textures
On area rugs with looped textures, vacuum the rug regularly using suction only. Avoid using the rotating beater bar. This will keep the loops from getting damaged.
Moving and Storing Rugs
Rugs should be rolled, not folded. When transported in a moving van, a rolled rug should be placed on top of furniture and then have nothing heavier than a lampshade placed on top of the rug. If a rug ends up with a crease, it will soon disappear when the rug is laid flat and the rug is walked on. If a corner of a rug does not want to lie flat, a small stack of books placed on the corner for a few days will ‘iron’ it out. For long-term storage, a rug should first be professionally cleaned and mothproofed and then wrapped in a clean, breathable (not plastic) material to help avoid mildew.
Stain Removal Tips
Let’s look at different cleaning methods and stain removal tips for various types of natural rugs as well as synthetic rugs. These tips will show you how to take care of the most common spots and spills.
Professional Rug Cleaning
The services of a professional rug cleaner should be utilized periodically to ensure your rugs get a complete and thorough cleaning to help keep them at their best. A professional will know the best rug and carpet cleaning methods for the different types of rugs. It is highly recommended to always let a professional clean certain types of rugs, such as high-quality rugs, hand-made Persian and Oriental rugs, as well as antique rugs.
Here’s a practical rule of thumb to keep in mind: The more valuable a rug is or the more fragile it is, the more you should be inclined to have the rug professionally cleaned.
Does Your Rug Need Cleaning?
There are telltale signs that let you know if your rug needs to be cleaned. Take a plain white towel and dampen it and then rub it across the surface of the rug. If the towel becomes soiled, you’ll know that the rug needs to be cleaned. Lift a corner of the rug and if dirt comes out when you slap the rug with the back of your hand, it’s time for a good cleaning. Look at the foundation of the rug by gently pulling the fibers apart and if you see dirt in the warp and weft threads of the foundation, then a good rug cleaning is needed. If you have a cat or dog and you catch the pet leaving a mark, there’s a good chance it isn’t the first time that has happened. Clean the rug and get a book about behavior modification for pets.
And when they do, its best to take care of them right away. No need for a professional rug cleaner in most cases. Usually, quick action and a few simple steps are all you need to take care of a spill. Time is of the essence when there is a spill on a rug. Many rugs have a stain-resistant treatment that does not allow the spill to be absorbed into the rug right away, giving you a few minutes to start taking action. Also, wool fibers have a natural tendency to shed liquid, so quick action can keep the spill from getting worse. Most liquids can be blotted with a plain white (no printing or design) paper towel if done before the liquid has a chance to be absorbed into the rug. Do not use a rubbing or scrubbing motion, as that will spread the liquid and/or cause pile distortion.
Food spills that are solid or semi-solid (things like peanut butter, jelly, fruit or ice cream) can be picked up with a spoon or the edge of a blunt knife. The remaining stain can be removed using white paper (plain white paper towels, tissue or napkins) to blot and absorb the moisture. Then, if needed, apply a little bit of the cleaning solution as shown below.
Make Your Own Cleaning Solution
(can be used on Wool, Acrylic, Nylon, Olefin or Polyester). Make a detergent solution for cleaning spots and spills as follows:
One teaspoon of a mild dish washing detergent OR one teaspoon of a neutral detergent (such as liquid Lux, Dreft, or Vel – a brand used for washing lingerie)
One teaspoon of pure white vinegar
Combine those two things in a quart of warm water
Here is a list of common stains where you can expect to get good results by using this do-it-yourself cleaning solution. Unless otherwise noted, it can be applied to rugs made of wool, acrylic, nylon, olefin or polyester.
First, absorb as much liquid as possible (with a plain white paper towel) and the use a plain white cloth to apply the solution to the spot by dabbing it on. Do not use a vigorous rubbing or scrubbing motion because that will cause distortion to the pile. Work inwards from the edges of the spot or spill. Also, work in the direction of the pile as much as possible.
- Catsup / Ketchup
- Clay (vacuum before applying solution)
- Paper (when color transfers to rug)
- Fruit Juice
- Furniture Dye
- Furniture Polish Glue (animal glue, but not Duco Cement or rubber cement)(use solution on glue stains only on rugs made of nylon
- Grape Drink
- Ice Cream (scoop up chunks with a spoon)
- Ink – India Ink,
- Permanent Ink or Washable Ink
- Latex Paint
- Plaster (vacuum before applying solution)Rouge (use solution only on rugs made of polyester)
- Shoe Polish (liquid or wax type of shoe polish)
Oxygen Cleaners (“Oxy” Cleaners)
Oxygen cleaners work well for spot cleaning a variety of stains on rugs made from synthetic fibers. One of the nice features about oxygen cleaners is that they’re environmentally safe.
These cleaners (most of them) form oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and soda ash when water is added. It is important to follow usage and dilution directions as listed on the packaging. Rinse the area well after cleaning. Also, test for colorfastness on a test area before working on the problem area.
CAUTION: Do not use oxygen cleaners on wool or silk rugs and avoid prolonged skin contact. This is because soda ash (mentioned in paragraph above) is sodium carbonate and it has alkaline properties.
Do not walk on the recently cleaned part of the rug until it is completely dry. This will help prevent pile distortion.
Dry Powder Cleaners
Dry powder cleaners can be used to remove many surface stains on low pile rugs. The dry powder absorbs the dirt particles and then it can be vacuumed up. This relatively simple cleaning method uses no water. For rugs that are heavily soiled, it is best to use another method or let a professional rug cleaner take care of it.
CAUTION: This is not a good option to use with plush rugs or deep pile rugs because the cleaning residue can be hard to remove from these types of rugs.
Dry Foam Cleaners
This cleaning method involves light detergent foam that is worked into the rug and then vacuumed out when it is dry. This method uses little or no water.
CAUTION: Use extreme care on rugs with loops because looped rugs do not have a good tolerance for the beater bar on a vacuum nor other types of brushing.
To avoid pile distortion, wait until the spot is completely dry before walking on that part of the rug.
Steam Cleaning Rugs
There is some debate among rug experts about using a steam cleaner on rugs at home. The main concern is about using too much detergent or too much water or not operating the steam cleaner properly.
Cleaning Rugs Made of Synthetic Material
Most of the rugs made with synthetic fibers including polypropylene, nylon and acrylic can be cleaned using almost any method of cleaning. Here are three general tips for cleaning synthetic rugs.
On dried stains or dry dirt (not mud), vacuum the rug before using one of the cleaning methods. For some stains, you might want to apply a preconditioning solution to start loosening the stain.
Follow the recommendations of the rug manufacturer and pay attention to the directions for diluting and applying any cleaning solution. Sounds simple, but many people seem to ignore this.
Do not use laundry detergent or automatic dishwasher detergent. Also, avoid using strong household cleaners that are made to clean woodwork, laminate, linoleum or tile.
Cleaning Wool Rugs
Wool rugs can be cleaned using almost any of the cleaning methods, however, try to avoid excessive heat and agitation. Wool rugs should be cleaned with neutral detergents and then dried right away using adequate ventilation, but no heat. Be cautious around household cleaning products, such as bleach and other alkaline products (like bathroom cleaners) because those items can easily damage wool fibers.
CAUTION: Do not use oxygen cleaners on wool rugs.
Cleaning Cotton or Rayon Rugs
Cotton and rayon are both cellulose fibers and can be cleaned with any of the rug cleaning methods. Excessive drying and/or agitation should be avoided to prevent shrinking. As with wool rugs, use caution with alkaline products.
Cleaning Silk Rugs
A dry cleaning process is the best cleaning method for rugs made of silk. Acids, both natural and synthetic, as well as sunlight can damage silk fibers. It is advisable to consult a professional rug cleaner about silk rugs.
CAUTION: Do not use oxygen cleaners on silk rugs.
Cleaning Rugs Made of Sisal or Other Plant Fibers
Sisal, jute, coconut (coir), hemp and ramie all have characteristics that are like that of cotton. Generally, it is safe to clean rugs made of these materials with any of the rug cleaning methods. As with other rugs, it is best to dry the rug quickly, without using excess heat.
Rug Buying Tips
What’s the best way to choose an area rug? Simple. Take it one step at a time. We’ve created this guide to help you make sense of all the warps, wefts and weaves. Whether you’re looking for a pop of color, a subdued statement or simply a plush feel under your feet, here are some simple tips you can sink your toes into.
Believe it or not, most modern-day rugs are made with the same techniques used by master weavers for hundreds of years. The finest hand-woven rugs still require considerable time and attention to detail. And while machine-made rugs can be made more quickly, the same basic techniques remain in place.
In most cases, the quality and price or your rug will be determined by the construction time and the talent of the weaver. But don’t forget to consider texture and appearance when shopping. To help narrow your options, take a look at the unique features of these common rug types.
Hand-knotting is the most labor-intensive rug-making technique. Master weavers tie individual knots to the warp yarns that make up the length of a rug. Together, these knots form the actual surface, or pile, of the rug. In general, the more knots, the more durable and valuable the rug. Also, no two hand-knotted rugs are exactly alike.
Easier to manufacture, tufted rugs are created without knots. Instead, loops of yarn are simply pulled through a rug’s backing material, either by machine or hand-held tool. The loops are then sheared to create a smooth, cut-pile surface. Since less work is involved, even the highest-quality tufted rugs can be produced relatively quickly and inexpensively. Note that tufted rugs tend to shed more than other rugs, which may require more frequent vacuuming.
Hooking is just like tufting, except the yarn loops stay intact. In a hooked rug, loops of yarn are pulled through the rug’s backing material by machine or with a hand-held hooking needle. But instead of being sheared, the loops are left alone, creating a knobby, embroidered look.
Unlike the rugs above, flat-weaves do not have a pile. Instead, the rug’s vertical yarns (warps) are simply woven through the horizontal yarns (wefts). Flat-woven rugs, such as Kilims and Dhurries, can be produced by hand or machine.
Braided rugs, like flat-weaves, do no not have a pile and are usually reversible. Yarns are braided into one continuous rope that is then sewn together in a spiral fashion. The result is a very strong, durable piece that holds up in nearly any environment.
How your rug looks, feels and performs is also dependent on the materials used. So, choose wisely, but remember: every fiber or fabric has its own unique characteristics and advantages. It’s just a matter of selecting one that fits your needs. Will your rug be used in high- or low-traffic areas? Will it be underneath furniture or on its own? Check the fibers below to see which kinds of rugs might be right for you.
Produced from the fleece of sheep, wool is a natural fiber that is highly regarded for its strength, durability and luxurious softness. Higher-quality wools tend to come from New Zealand or Tibet, where sheep produce high levels of lanolin. This natural substance enhances the fiber’s strength and texture.
Benefits: Soft, durable, easy to clean
Considerations: Prone to early shedding, color fading
A natural protein fiber, silk is often blended with other rug fabrics to produce a distinctive softness and sheen. The fiber’s unique structure refracts light at different angles, giving it its shimmering appearance. Because silk is created from harvested larvae cocoons of silkworms, the production process can be tricky and time-consuming. Not surprisingly, even the smallest addition of silk can increase a rug’s cost.
Benefits: Very soft, strong, distinctive sheen
Considerations: More difficult to clean, shows footprints
Taken right from the cotton plant, this natural fiber is both soft and strong. Cotton area rugs can easily absorb a variety of dyes, allowing for many color options and designs. The fabric also makes a great backing material, helping the rug keep its shape and lie flat against the floor.
Benefits: Easy to clean, machine-washable, biodegradable
Considerations: Attracts dust easily, wears quickly
Jute, sisal and coir are common examples of natural grass fibers used in area rugs. Extracted from their respective plants, these fibers are generally flat-woven to produce extremely strong, durable rugs. And, since the fibers are processed without the addition of harsh chemicals, the production of these rugs is also environmentally friendly.
Benefits: Extremely strong, durable, highly textured
Considerations: Coarse feel, prone to stains
Synthetic, or manmade, fibers are created from materials such as nylon, polypropylene, acrylic and viscose. In area rugs, these materials are often used to mimic the characteristics of natural fibers. For example, polypropylene is often used an inexpensive, but comparably soft substitute for wool.
Benefits: Strong, stain-resistant, great for high-traffic areas
Considerations: Crushes easily under heavy furniture
Before buying a rug, be sure to measure your space carefully. Use a tape measure-twice, to be safe-as guessing can easily lead to mistakes. You want your rug to not only fit the space, but also make the most impact possible. Here are some helpful tips you can use throughout your home.
Leave enough room so that the rug extends beyond the back legs of a chair when someone is seated. Otherwise, your chairs may wobble on the uneven surface-not the most comfortable dining experience. An 8′ x 10′ rug is the most common size for dining rooms, but be sure to measure your space and the area around the table with chairs pulled out.
Living & Family Rooms
Here, there’s really no right or wrong way to place your rug. It’s all about preference. The bigger the rug, the more it’ll pull the other elements of the room together. Use the coffee table, or center of the room, as the primary focal point and plan outward from there.
Rugs are a great way to add extra softness and soundproofing to the bedroom. Simply choose a rug the fits the width of your bed. Or, if you’re looking for something larger, find one that will cover the space beneath your nightstands, too.
Kitchen, Hallway & Foyer
Look for runners and round area rugs to fill the narrower spaces and nooks throughout your home. Remember to use a tape measure first, so that there are no surprises once you get your rug on the floor.
care & cleaning
You’ve done your research, measured your room and picked the materials you want. What’s next for your new rug? Caring for it! Thankfully, it doesn’t take a ton of work to keep your rug in tiptop shape. But here are some things to remember.
Spills, Spots & Sunlight
Clean spills immediately by blotting the affected area. Be sure not wipe or rub the spills, as this may worsen the stain and fray the yarns. If possible, keep your rug out of direct sunlight, which can cause some rugs to fade.
Regular Maintenance & Storage
Shake or vacuum both sides of your rug regularly. Rotating the rug every six months will prevent uneven wear from foot traffic and furniture weight. When storing, roll up the rug with the pattern facing out and place it in a dry, well-ventilated space. For extra protection, wrap the rug in a breathable cloth, rather than an airtight bag.
Not just for slippage, a rug pad can help preserve the life of your rug. Rug pads protect the rug from everyday wear by giving it a soft, supportive foundation that keeps it in place. Most rug pads can also be cut with scissors to match the exact size and shape of your rug.