How to Clean Area Rugs

Dr. Harry Noland
14 Min Read

Area rugs can add charm and warmth to any room, but they also accumulate dust, dirt, and stains over time. Regular cleaning is crucial to maintain their appearance and prolong their lifespan. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean area rugs effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular cleaning is essential for maintaining the appearance of your area rug.
  • Gather all necessary cleaning supplies before starting the cleaning process.
  • Vacuuming and spot cleaning are effective ways to remove loose dirt and stains.
  • Shampooing or steam cleaning can deeply cleanse the rug’s fibers.
  • Proper drying and brushing are important steps to restore the rug’s texture and appearance.

Gather Necessary Supplies

Before you begin cleaning your area rug, you’ll need to gather a few supplies. Having these essential items ready will help make the cleaning process more effective:

  • A vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • A mild detergent or rug shampoo
  • A bucket or basin
  • Clean towels or cloths
  • A soft brush or sponge

The vacuum cleaner is the most important tool, as it will help remove loose dirt and debris from the rug’s surface. Make sure to choose an attachment that won’t damage the rug’s fibers. You may use a brush attachment on the vacuum or a handheld brush to gently scrub the surface of the rug.

When selecting a cleaning solution, opt for a mild detergent or rug shampoo that won’t cause damage to the rug’s color or texture. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach. You’ll also need a bucket or basin to mix the cleaning solution and water.

Clean towels or cloths are necessary for blotting excess water or cleaning solution from the rug’s surface. A soft brush or sponge can be used to gently scrub stubborn stains or areas of high traffic on the rug.

Vacuum the Rug

The first step in properly cleaning your area rug is to vacuum it thoroughly. Vacuuming will remove loose dust and dirt, making it easier to address any stains or deeper cleaning needed. To begin, make sure your vacuum is set to the appropriate height for the type of rug you have. Run the vacuum over the rug in all directions to ensure you remove as much dirt as possible. It’s important to use the right attachment to prevent damage to the rug.

If you have pets or kids, you might want to invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. These filters capture smaller particles, like pet hair and dander, reducing allergens in your home. You can also use a soft brush to loosen any dirt trapped in the fibers, making it easier to vacuum.

Regularly vacuuming your area rug will help remove dust and debris that can accumulate over time. This will extend the life of your rug and keep it looking its best.

Spot Clean Stains

Oops, did something spill on your beautiful area rug? Don’t worry, with the right tools and techniques, you can easily remove stains and prevent them from becoming permanent. Follow these steps for spot cleaning:

  • Identify the stain: Different stains require different cleaning solutions. For example, blood stains should be treated with cold water, while grease stains may require a solvent-based cleaner.
  • Blot the stain: Use a clean, white towel to blot the stain and absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can push it deeper into the rug fibers.
  • Apply the cleaning solution: Using a soft brush or cloth, apply the appropriate cleaning solution to the stain. Don’t over-saturate the area.
  • Blot again: Use a clean towel to blot the area again. Repeat this process until the stain is removed or no more color is being transferred onto the towel.
  • Rinse the area: Use a clean, damp towel to rinse the area and remove any remaining cleaning solution.

Remember to always test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug before proceeding with spot cleaning. For tough or stubborn stains, it’s best to seek professional rug cleaning services.

Shampoo or Steam Clean the Rug

Now that you’ve spot cleaned any stains on your area rug, it’s time to give it a more thorough cleaning. Shampooing or steam cleaning your rug can eliminate any deep-seated dirt and allergens, leaving it fresh and sanitized.

To shampoo your rug, begin by filling a bucket with warm water and adding a small amount of mild detergent. Mix the solution until there are suds on the surface. Using a soft brush, gently scrub the rug in a circular motion, paying extra attention to any areas that appear soiled. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously as this could damage the rug’s fibers.

Once you’ve finished shampooing the rug, use a clean, damp towel to wipe away any remaining suds. Then, rinse the rug thoroughly with clean water until there are no more suds present. Be sure to remove as much water from the rug as possible to aid in the drying process.

If you prefer to steam clean your rug, you can rent a steam cleaner from a local home improvement or hardware store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating the machine and filling it with water and detergent. Move the steam cleaner slowly over the rug, working in small sections to ensure that every inch of the rug is cleaned.

Whichever method you choose, allow your rug to dry completely before replacing any furniture or walking on it. This may take several hours or even a full day, depending on the material of the rug and the environmental conditions in the room.

Remember to test any cleaning solutions on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug before applying them more broadly to avoid damaging the rug. Also, for best results, consider hiring a professional rug cleaning service every few years to provide a deep clean for your more delicate or heavily soiled rugs.

Rinse and Dry the Rug

After shampooing or steam cleaning your area rug, it’s essential to rinse it thoroughly to remove any cleaning residue that may be left behind. Fill a bucket with clean water and use a soft brush to gently scrub the rug’s fibers, being careful not to apply too much pressure.

Once you have finished rinsing, use a clean towel to blot excess water from the rug. Avoid rubbing the fibers, which can damage the rug’s texture. Repeat the blotting process until the towel comes away relatively dry.

Finally, you need to dry the rug completely to prevent mold or mildew from growing. If possible, hang the rug over a clothesline or railing and allow it to air-dry naturally. If you need to speed up the drying process, use a fan or dehumidifier to circulate the air around the rug.

Ensure the rug is entirely dry before putting it back in place to avoid any moisture from damaging the floor underneath. Properly rinsing and drying your rug will help to keep it looking its best for longer.

Brush and Groom the Rug

After your area rug has been thoroughly cleaned, it’s important to restore its texture and appearance. To do this, use a soft-bristled brush to gently fluff the rug’s fibers. This will help enhance its overall look and feel.

If your rug has been flattened or matted due to furniture or high foot traffic, use a grooming tool to restore the pile. This will help fluff up the fibers and make it look more plush. You can also use a wide-toothed comb to separate and detangle any fibers that may have clumped together during cleaning.

Brushing and grooming your rug not only enhances its appearance but also preserves its quality for years to come. Regular grooming helps prevent matting and flattening, ensuring your rug maintains its plush feel.

Regular Maintenance and Care

To keep your area rug looking and feeling fresh, it’s important to maintain it regularly. Here are some essential tips for caring for your rug:

  • Rotate your rug every few months to ensure even wear and fading.
  • Use rug pads to prevent slips and keep your rug in place.
  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, which can cause fading and discoloration.
  • Remove shoes before stepping on the rug to prevent dirt and stains.

Additionally, the frequency of cleaning will depend on the rug type and usage. It’s recommended to vacuum high-traffic areas once a week and the entire rug at least once a month. For rugs in low-traffic areas, vacuuming every three to six months is sufficient.

By following these maintenance and care tips, you can prolong the life of your area rug and keep it looking beautiful for years to come.

Hiring Professional Rug Cleaners

While cleaning your area rug can be a manageable DIY task, sometimes professional help is necessary. Professional rug cleaning services offer deeper cleaning methods and specialized equipment that can effectively remove stubborn stains and dirt from delicate or heavily soiled rugs.

When considering hiring professional rug cleaners, it’s essential to find a reputable company that provides quality services. Do your research beforehand and read online reviews or ask for referrals from friends or family members.

Professional rug cleaning services offer various benefits, such as:

  • Using eco-friendly cleaning solutions that are safe for your rug and the environment.
  • Having experience with different rug types and fiber compositions, ensuring proper cleaning methods are used.
  • Providing specialized equipment that can remove deep-seated dirt and allergens, leaving your rug fresh and sanitized.
  • Offering additional services such as rug repair or restoration.

Keep in mind that the frequency of professional rug cleaning depends on your rug type and usage. However, it’s generally recommended to have your rug professionally cleaned at least once a year.

In conclusion, hiring professional rug cleaners is a viable option to consider for deep cleaning your area rug. By choosing a reputable company, you can ensure your rug is properly cared for and maintained, preserving its beauty and longevity for years to come.


Cleaning your area rugs may seem like a daunting task, but by following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can ensure that your rugs remain fresh and vibrant for years to come. Remember to start by gathering all the necessary supplies and vacuuming the rug thoroughly to remove loose dirt and dust. For stubborn stains, spot clean with suitable solutions and then shampoo or steam-clean the rug to deeply cleanse its fibers.

It’s essential to rinse and dry the rug properly, using a fan or dehumidifier to speed up the drying process. Once dry, use a soft brush to groom the rug and restore its texture and appearance. Regular maintenance and care, such as rotating the rug and avoiding direct sunlight exposure, can also help prolong its lifespan.

If you have a delicate or heavily soiled rug, it may be best to seek professional cleaning services. Be sure to find a reputable company with specialized equipment and expertise to ensure that your rug is cleaned effectively and safely.

By taking care of your area rugs, you not only enhance the look of your living space but also create a clean and inviting environment for you and your loved ones. So, go ahead and start cleaning your rugs today with these easy-to-follow tips!

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