How to Clean an Area Rug – An Expert Guide for Beginners

How to Clean an Area Rug

Do you want to know how to clean an area rug? Area rugs are especially prone to messes in most homes, such as pet messes caused by an accident, kids or adults spilling food, and when someone comes on it with muddy shoes.

When stains happen on it, sometimes they become stubborn, which is difficult to clean. If you clean dirt on your rug as soon as they occur, it will not become stained, and its cleaning will be easy.

In this article, we will discuss the best method to clean an area rug.

How to Clean an Area Rug at Home?

  1. Use a vacuum to clean dust and grime from both sides of the rug.
  2. Test the rug cleaner on its small corner.
  3. If it is safe, place the rug on a clean floor, and wash it with the cleaner.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  5. Dry both of its sides completely.


Tools and Materials Required

Basic Area Rug Upkeep

The best way to clean area rugs can be found by their material, construction, and size. Large area rugs require the same maintenance as needed by large wall-to-wall carpets.

Area Rug

The following care routine will help keep your rugs in good condition for years.

Large Area Rugs Should be Vacuumed to Remove Dirt

Vacuuming is the main step in cleaning the area rugs. Vacuum both sides so that the grime and dust are taken out effectively. Dirt located in its fibers can damage it before completing its lifespan.

Do not vacuum on the borders of the rug. In the case of a shag rug, turn off the beater bar because it can damage the long fibers.

Pet Hair Should be Brushed

Most of the per hair is unable to pick by vacuum, so brushing it will be helpful. A brush should be used in the direction of the fibers.

Turn Rugs Once a Year

Area rugs can be damaged by sun exposure and high foot traffic, so turning them once a year will prevent them from wearing out soon.

Shake Small Rugs to Remove Dust

A small rug can be beaten out well to remove all the dirt and grime.

Area Rug Cleaning

First, we will discuss general guidelines for cleaning regular area rugs. Then, we will explain the way of cleaning according to the material.

Step 1. Vacuuming

First, clean both sides of the area rug using a vacuum. The back is full of dirt, debris, and other sand particles, so pay special attention while vacuuming it.


Step 2. Testing the Cleaner on Your Rug

While using cleaner, you have two options:

  • Purchase a good rug cleaner from a store and follow all the instructions written in its manual.
  • You can use dishwashing soap to clean it. Take a large bucket and pour warm water into it. Add a few spoons of soap into it and mix it well. Don’t use too hot water because the fibers of the rugs may shrink and discolor.

Testing the Cleaner on Your Rug

Pick any cleaner you want, homemade or store-bought, and test it on your rug. This is a very important step before you start your cleaning project because cleaners with harsh chemicals can damage it.

Take any small unnoticeable corner of the rug and check the cleaner on it. If it is not harmful, move on to the next step.

Step 3. Applying the Cleaner

Apply the cleaner onto the rug and thoroughly scrub it with a brush or a sponge. Keep scrubbing it for a while, so the cleaner goes deep into the fibers. And the foam is made on it.

Applying the Cleaner

After scrubbing it well, leave it for a while and let the cleaner work on it.

Step 4. Rinsing the Rug

Now use a garden hose to rinse the rug. Thoroughly wash it until the soap or detergent leaves it completely, and the water becomes clear.

Rinsing the Rug

Step 5. Removing Excess Water

Remove the excess water from it using a squeegee. It is usually used to clean glass; you can also use it to remove the extra water from rugs.

Removing Excess Water

Keep its rubber-edged blade on one side of it and press it firmly. Now, pull it towards the other side while getting out water as much as possible.

Remember that while removing water from the rug, you should work in the direction of its fibers.

Step 6. Drying the Rug

After removing the liquid from the rug, lay it flat on a clean floor. When one side dries completely, turn it and let the other side dry.

Drying the Rug

Step 7. Combing the Rug’s Fibers

Comb the fibers of your rug with a brush of soft bristles, or you can vacuum it for this purpose.

Combing the Rug’s Fibers

By doing so, you will get its fibers to loosen up, which had become tangled due to washing and drying.  Now, the cleaning process is complete.

Cleaning Area Rugs by Material

Woven or Braided Rugs

Read the label of small woven rugs; if they are washable, place them in a pillowcase or laundry bag. Wash with a gentle cycle and cool water, and rinse thoroughly. Keep the machine on a low setting to dry.

Woven or Braided Rugs

To clean large braided rugs, place an old blanket on a large floor and lay the rug over it.

Hand-Knotted, Antique, and Oriental Rugs

To protect these types of rugs from the bad effects of vacuuming, place a thin cloth of nylon over the rug’s surface before applying a vacuum. When one screen is covered with dirt, change it and use the other.

Hand-Knotted, Antique, and Oriental Rugs

These rugs should be deep cleaned professionally once a year. Direct exposure to sunlight is harmful to them.

Coir, Sisal, Rush, and Grass Rugs

These rugs feature an open pile that makes it easy for the dirt and grime to fall on the floor. They are mostly used as welcome mats.

They should be vacuumed frequently; if they are reversible, turn them often while cleaning and sweep the floor beneath.

Coir, Sisal, Rush, and Grass Rugs

To clean a stain from these rugs, place plastic and cloth under that area and scrub it with soapy water and a brush.

Natural-fibers rugs are made of small squares sewn together. Buy some extra pieces so that the damaged ones can be replaced. You can stitch it by hand using heavy-duty carpet thread.

Fur and Sheepskin Rugs

Clean sheepskin rug at home the safe way. Sprinkle odorless talcum powder on these rugs and leave it for a few hours. Now use a brush to remove the powder and shake it well. Depending on their fur, repeat this step a few times.

Fur and Sheepskin Rugs

To clean the back of the rug, dip a cotton cloth in soapy water and wipe spills and stains. Wash it with a cotton cloth dipped in clean water and let it dry.

Deep Cleaning Area Rugs

Follow the guidelines given ahead to clean your area rug like a pro.

Small Flatweave Synthetic or Natural-Fibers Rug

Shake it as much as possible and vacuum it thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. The best way to clean small-sized rugs is to wash them in a washing machine.

However, before having a machine wash, read its care label. You must use cold water and a gentle spin on it. Increase the process of drying by using fans for wool and cotton rugs because they discolor due to longer exposure to the open area.

Medium Flatweave, Low-Pile, and High-Pile Synthetic Rugs

Before washing the rugs, thoroughly remove dust and dirt embedded in your rug’s fibers. Beat them as much as possible and vacuum them thoroughly on both sides.

If there are any stains and spots, first remove them. We will discuss stain removal techniques later in this article.

Test your cleaner on a small area of your rug; if it is not safe, take it to professional rug cleaning. If it is not harmful, wash it with the cleaner and scrub it with a soft brush.

Medium Flatweave, Low-Pile, and High-Pile Synthetic Rugs

A high-pile rug should be scrubbed for a few minutes so the cleaner can go deep down into the fibers and work with them because of their thickness.

After brushing the rug, attach a nozzle to your garden hose and wash it thoroughly to remove the soap residues. The washing process is complete when the foam is no longer visible in the water.

Use a squeegee or large towels to remove the extra water from it. Lay the rug flat on a clean surface and turn it over to dry the back side after drying one side.

Depending on the rug’s thickness, the drying process can take a few days.

Removing Stains from Rugs

When your rugs got stains, it is not a difficult task to clean them. However, keep in mind that you have to blot the stain and don’t rub it. The spill’s moisture should be removed as soon as possible.

Alcohol and Soft DrinksAlcohol and Soft Drinks

It is possible to remove alcohol, wine, and soft drink stains from carpets and rugs. Follow the steps mentioned below to perform this DIY task easily:

  1. Take a large bowl and pour one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap into it.
  2. Add 4 cups of warm water and 1/4  tsp of white vinegar.
  3. Mix it well and apply it to the stained area. Rinse with clean water and blot it with a clean towel.

Tea or CoffeeTea or Coffee

You can use the same mixture discussed above and apply it to the area affected by tea or coffee stain.

If the method doesn’t work, you can buy a commercial cleaner to clean it, but first, check it on a small unseen area and use it according to the instructions.

Grease StainsGrease Stains

To clean the stains like gravy, margarine, oil, or butter, sprinkle any absorbent like baking powder or cornstarch. Dip a white cloth in vinegar and blot the area with it.

Gum Gum

We can also remove gum or nasty things of similar nature from our carpets with little to no effort.

First, try to cut the gum as much as possible. Now place ice cubes in plastic and put it over the gum. Leave it for a while and let it harden. Now scrape it off using a spoon.


When acrylic and latex paint is wet, clean them with the solution of detergent; after cleaning the damp paint, if its residues are left, clean with rubbing alcohol.

To clean oil-based paint, use mineral spirits to clean them. Be careful while cleaning it because you must not seep the stain into its back.

Ketchup StainKetchup Stain

Use detergent solution and cool water to clean it. Rinse with vinegar and water solution and blot with a clean towel.

Vomit, Urine, or FecesVomit, Urine, or Feces

These stains can be removed using a detergent solution or any safe cleaner like a citrous-oxygen cleaner. Rinse thoroughly and blot it.


You can remove wax from the carpets or rugs using the method to scrape out the gum. Put plastic bags of ice cubes on the wax, and after hardening, scrap it. To remove residues of wax, use rubbing alcohol.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

How to Clean the Area Rug at Home?

  • First, clean the stains from the rug.
  • Vacuum it thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
  • Wash with a safe cleaner and dry it.

What is an Effective Way to Clean Area Rugs?

Cleaning area rugs with a solution of dishwashing soap and water are the best way. It is a safe cleaner that removes dirt and grime without ruining the rug’s fibers. But, too much soap can be harmful, especially for wool rugs.

Is it Possible to Clean Area Rugs on Hardwood Floors?

First, vacuum the rug thoroughly to remove dirt and grime. Sweep the floor so that the mess doesn’t re-enter it. Now place plastic sheets on the hardwood floor to protect it from moisture damage. Now, wash with any safe cleaner and dry it.

Is it Possible to Use Carpet Shampoo on an Area Rug?

A carpet shampooer cannot be used to clean area rugs because it cannot clean fluid, pet, or paint stains. However, rugs made of synthetic fibers can be cleaned with carpet cleaners.

How to Clean a Dirty Rug Using Your Hand?

Place the rug on a floor and sprinkle baking powder on it. Now, make a solution of warm water and dishwashing soap and apply it to the rug. Scrub it with a brush and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Final Thoughts

In this guide, you learned different ways to clean an area rug. Its cleaning is easy, and you can do it yourself at home.

If you don’t want to use store-bought cleaners, homemade ones are safer and more effective. Vacuuming your rug weekly increases its life and should not be deep cleaned until it’s extremely dirty.

You can also beat it in an open area to remove dirt and dust. Clean any spills and stains as quickly as they happen. If so, your rug will remain in good condition for years.

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