How to Clean Area Rugs at Home

Dr. Harry Noland
13 Min Read

Your cozy rug is a perfect spot for relaxation, but over time it can collect dirt, dust, and stains. Cleaning your rug may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier than you think with our step-by-step guide.

With minimal effort and the right supplies, you can keep your rug looking fresh and beautiful for years to come. In this section, we will provide you with easy-to-follow tips and techniques to effectively clean your area rug at home.

Key Takeaways

  • Cleaning your area rug at home is an easy and effective process.
  • Proper vacuuming and spot cleaning can remove dust and stains from your rug.
  • Deep cleaning with rug shampoo can restore the rug’s texture and appearance.
  • It’s important to rinse and dry the rug thoroughly to prevent mold growth.
  • Following preventative maintenance tips can extend the lifespan of your rug.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you begin cleaning your area rugs, it’s essential to gather all the necessary supplies. Having the right cleaning equipment and rug cleaning supplies on hand will ensure a more effective cleaning process. Here are the essential items you’ll need:

Rug Cleaning Supplies Cleaning Equipment
  • Rug shampoo or mild detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Stain remover
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Squeegee
  • Fan
  • Steam cleaner (optional)

Make sure you have all the necessary supplies before you start cleaning to avoid any interruptions or delays in the process. With the proper cleaning equipment and rug cleaning supplies, you’ll have a clean and beautiful rug in no time.

Vacuum the Rug

To start cleaning your area rug, the first step is to vacuum it thoroughly. This will remove the surface dust and debris, making it easier to spot clean any stains and providing a better surface for deep cleaning. When vacuuming, make sure to use a vacuum cleaner with adjustable suction and a beater brush attachment, which will help remove dirt from the rug’s fibers.

Start by moving furniture out of the way, and then place the rug in an open area. Slowly go over the rug in different directions, making sure to reach all areas and edges. If the rug has fringes, be extra careful and avoid vacuuming them, as it can cause damage.

For heavy traffic areas or high-pile rugs, you may need to vacuum multiple times to ensure it’s properly cleaned. Once you’re finished, check the vacuum bag or canister, and replace or empty it if it’s full. This will allow the vacuum to work at its best and prevent dust and debris from being released back into the air.

In summary, vacuuming your area rug is the first step in cleaning it. By removing the dust and debris, your rug will be better prepared for a thorough deep cleaning. Remember to use a vacuum with adjustable suction and a beater brush attachment, and to remove furniture and vacuum in different directions for optimal results.

Spot Clean Stains

Even with regular vacuuming, it’s inevitable that your area rug will encounter some stains over time. Don’t panic! With the right spot cleaning techniques, you can remove most stains without causing any damage to the rug fibers. Follow these steps:

  1. Blot the stain with a dry, clean cloth to remove any excess liquid.
  2. Apply a small amount of rug cleaner to the spot, working from the outside in to prevent spreading. Be sure to use a cleaner specifically designed for your rug material.
  3. Gently agitate the spot with a soft-bristled brush or sponge to work the cleaner into the stain.
  4. Allow the cleaner to sit on the stain for a few minutes, then blot with a clean, damp cloth until the stain is removed.
  5. Rinse the spot with clean water and blot dry with a clean cloth.
  6. If the stain persists, repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.

Be sure to test any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug before applying to the stain to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.

Pro Tip: For tough stains, you can try mixing equal parts white vinegar and water and repeating the above steps. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water and blot dry.

Following these spot cleaning techniques can help you keep your area rug looking fresh and clean, even with regular use. Remember to act quickly when a stain occurs, as the longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove.

Deep Clean the Rug

Once you’ve spot cleaned any stains, it’s time to give your area rug a deep clean. This will help to remove any dirt, grime, or pet hair that has accumulated over time. There are various methods you can use for deep cleaning your rug, including rug shampooing.

Rug shampooing is a popular and effective way to deeply clean your area rug. Before you start, make sure to thoroughly vacuum the rug to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Mix your rug shampoo according to the instructions on the bottle.
  2. Using a clean sponge or brush, apply the shampoo to the rug in a circular motion. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the rug.
  3. Allow the shampoo to sit on the rug for the recommended time (usually 5-10 minutes).
  4. Rinse the rug thoroughly with clean water to remove all the shampoo. You may need to rinse several times to ensure all the shampoo is removed.
  5. Use a squeegee or towel to remove any excess water from the rug.

Another option for deep cleaning your rug is to use a steam cleaner. This method can be especially effective for removing tough stains or odors. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not soak the rug with too much water, as this can cause damage to the fibers.

No matter which method you choose, always make sure to thoroughly rinse and dry the rug after deep cleaning. This will prevent any buildup of shampoo or moisture, which can lead to mold or mildew growth.

Rinse and Dry the Rug

Once you’ve deep cleaned your rug, it’s important to rinse off any remaining residue and moisture. Failure to rinse off all cleaning agents can lead to discoloration or damage to the rug fibers over time. Here’s how to properly rinse and dry your rug:

  1. Fill a clean bucket with cold water and use a clean sponge to gently apply the water to the rug.
  2. Wring out the sponge and repeat until you’ve rinsed off all cleaning agents.
  3. Use a wet-dry vacuum or clean towels to remove excess water from the rug.
  4. Hang the rug on a clothesline or prop it up against a sturdy surface to air dry. Avoid exposing the rug to direct sunlight or high heat, as it can cause shrinkage or damage the fibers.
  5. Flip the rug over periodically to ensure it dries evenly on both sides.

Once the rug is completely dry, use a soft-bristled brush or vacuum to groom the rug fibers and restore its texture.

Brush and Groom the Rug

Now that your area rug is clean, it’s time to restore its texture and appearance through brushing and grooming. This step is especially important for high-pile rugs, which tend to get matted down over time.

Start by using a soft-bristled brush to loosen any fibers that have become compacted. Work in the direction of the nap, using gentle strokes to prevent damaging the rug fibers.

Next, use a rug rake or a carpet groomer to further loosen and fluff up the pile. This will also help to remove any remaining dirt or debris that may have been left behind during the cleaning process.

For extra shine and softness, you can also use a fabric softener diluted in water and apply it to the rug using a spray bottle. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the fabric softener doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage to the rug.

By following these rug brushing and grooming techniques, you can revitalize your area rug and keep it looking beautiful for years to come.

Preventative Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve cleaned your area rug, it’s important to implement some preventative maintenance to help extend its lifespan. Here are some useful tips:

  • Vacuum regularly: By vacuuming your rug weekly, you can prevent dirt and dust from building up, which can cause damage over time.
  • Rotate your rug: Rotating your rug every six months can help to distribute wear and tear evenly.
  • Protect from sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause colors to fade and weaken the fibers of your rug. Consider using curtains or blinds to protect your rug from the sun’s rays.
  • Use rug pads: Rug pads not only make your rug feel more comfortable, but they also protect it from slipping and sliding. They can also reduce wear and tear on your rug’s fibers.
  • Avoid spills: Accidents happen, but try to avoid spilling liquids on your rug. If a spill does occur, clean it up as soon as possible to prevent staining.

By following these simple tips, you can help to keep your area rug in great condition for years to come.


Now that you have learned how to clean your area rugs at home, you can enjoy the benefits of a fresh and beautiful rug without spending a fortune on professional cleaning services. By following our step-by-step guide, you can effectively remove dust, debris, and stains from your rugs, ensuring they last for years to come.

Remember to gather all the necessary supplies before you begin cleaning, and to vacuum your rug thoroughly before spot cleaning any stains. Once you’ve spot cleaned, it’s time to deep clean the entire rug using shampoo or other deep cleaning methods. Rinse off any residue, and dry the rug properly to prevent mold or mildew growth.

Brush and groom your rug to restore its texture and appearance, and follow preventative maintenance tips to extend the lifespan of your rug. By taking care of your area rugs, they will continue to complement the beauty of your home for years to come.

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