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Rug Cleaning Tips From The Pro’s

Author: Tony K. from Love Your Rug Cleaning Toronto

Having trouble keeping your area rug in tip top shape? Here you will find some tips on general rug maintenance and proven methods for spot cleaning your rug from the comfort of your own home.
Area rugs are often used to spice up the decor of a room while also providing a warm and soft area to hang out, play on and have sleepovers for the kids. Considering that rugs are made from thousands of small fibers and usually placed in high traffic areas of the home, it is no surprise that they are notorious for attracting and accumulating dirt, which over time will make it look old and faded.
Knowing how to properly care for your area rug can save you lots of money in the long run, eliminating the need to take it to a professional rug cleaning specialist. Below you will find professional rug cleaning tips.

Table of Contents

How to minimize debris and dirt buildup on your rug
Five Step DIY Rug Cleaning Process
Rug Cleaning Equipment
How to remove pet hairs from your rug
How to remove stains from your rug
How to remove odors from your rug

How to Minimize Debris and Dirt Buildup on Your Rug

area rug maintenance

Dirt and debris will accumulate on your rug over time and if you do not regularly clean it to minimize this buildup you will need to do a more thorough clean sooner than you wish, which is not only more time consuming but also more costly. The best way to prevent debris and dirt from becoming embedded deep into your rug fibers is to minimize the amount of debris in the house and vacuuming the carpet regularly:

  • Minimize the amount of dirt and debris in your home

    One of the best ways to minimize dirt and debris from entering your home is by placing floor mats near every entrance. The floor mats, which are much cheaper and easier to clean than a rug, should capture most dirt and debris from outside, minimizing the amount of dirt that makes its way to your rug. Even by taking this step there will still be debris that enters your home so an added measure that you can take to reduce the amount of debris that accumulates on your rug is sweeping the floor around your rug regularly and having a no shoes rule in your home.

  • Regularly vacuum your rug

    Depending on where your rug is located and how much traffic passes over it will determine how often you should vacuum. For high traffic areas it is recommended to give it a quick vacuum 5 times a week and for less used areas at least 3 times per week. Since dirt can get deeply lodged into your rug’s fibers you should be using either an upright vacuum or one with a beater bar. Regardless of which vacuum you use, make sure that the suction created is strong enough to remove dirt and debris that is deeply embedded in the rug. For optimal results, regularly check the suction ports to make sure there is nothing blocking the airflow and change the bag frequently.

  • Treat spills quickly

    The key to keeping your rug stain free after a spill of any kind is to act quickly. If you let it sit for too long, it will become deeply embedded into the rug fibers making it much more difficult to remove the stain in the future. If you spill something on your rug the first course of action should be to blot up as much of the liquid as possible with a dry towel, making sure not to rub it as this can push it deeper into the rug. If the liquid spilled causes any sort of discoloration in the rug a more thorough cleaning method should be used which can be found below in the eco-friendly ways to clean your rug section.

5 Step DIY Rug Cleaning Process

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Different types of rugs will require different cleaning techniques to ensure that irreversible damage does not occur. In general, however, there are some proven eco-friendly rug cleaning methods that work for the most common types of rugs. Before you try any of these methods, make sure to read your rugs care label first for any recommendations and test the cleaning solution on a small inconspicuous spot of your rug for colorfastness. Here are the steps that should be taken when cleaning your area rug:

  • Step 1

    Thoroughly vacuum the top and bottom of your rug, removing all loose dirt

  • Step 2

    Choose a rug cleaning solution. In this step you can either use a store bought eco-friendly shampoo that is safe for your type of rug, or use one of several homemade rug cleaning solutions, the most popular being a mixture of one part white vinegar one part water.

  • Step 3

    Spray your cleaning solution onto the rug and let it sit for 10-20 minutes for homemade vinegar/water solution or the recommended time for store bought shampoos. Using a soft brush, work the cleaning solution into the rug, making sure to always rub it gently in the direction of the nap. If a steam cleaner can be used on your type of rug, place your cleaning solution into the steam cleaner and follow the instructions for the steam cleaner that you are using. When using a steam cleaner you can skip step 4 and move directly to step 5 once the rug has been fully dried.

  • Step 4

    Remove excess moisture from your rug, either by passing a squeegee over it or by using dry towels, once again going in the same direction as the nap. Once all excess moisture is removed, lay the rug flat on the ground and point fans towards it to speed up the drying process, and turn the rug over to make sure it is thoroughly dried. If you have a clean garage or porch, these are great spots for drying your rug. (Note: Try to speed up the drying process to minimize the risk of bacteria or mildew buildup but make sure to NEVER use heat when drying your rug.)

  • Step 5

    Cleaning solutions can leave the pile of your rug feeling stiff once it is dried. If this is the case with your rug, brush the pile gently with a clean and dry brush or lightly vacuum the rug to leave it feeling soft once again.

Rug Cleaning Equipment

rug cleaning equipment

To properly give your area rug a good cleaning you will either need to do it by hand, using a spray bottle or water hose, sponges and towels to distribute your cleaning solution across the rug, gently rub it in and finally dry the rug; or use sophisticated rug cleaning equipment, which can usually be rented from your local hardware store.
The most common rug cleaning equipment used at home for deep cleaning is the steam cleaner. A steam cleaner heats up your water and shampoo mixture to create a vapor that is slowly released into the rug, breaking down any dirt that is deeply embedded into the rug fibers. The steam cleaner is then passed over the same area of the rug, but this time using its high suction power to suck up a large amount of the moisture, and of course, dirt that has been detached from the rug fibers. The high temperature of the steam cleaner kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
The biggest downfall with rented steam cleaners is that the suction is not as powerful as machines that professionals have, meaning that it will take much longer for your rug to fully dry. Steam cleaners should also be used with caution as they are not recommended to be used on all types of rugs so be sure to read your rugs care label before using a steam cleaner on it.

How to Remove Pet Hairs from Your Rug

remove pet hairs from carpet

If you have a cat or dog that sheds hair easily you may have noticed that this hair tends to accumulate on your carpet, and, unlike dirt and debris which can be removed with a strong vacuum, these hairs become intertwined into the rug fibers making it much more difficult to remove. Here are some methods used for removing pet hairs from a rug:

  • Remove pet hairs with a window squeegee

    To remove pet hairs from your rug using a window squeegee, simply pass the squeegee along the rug, applying pressure as you go. The rubber from the squeegee should create enough friction to pull the hairs right out of your rug’s fibers.

  • Remove pet hairs with a damp sponge

    Using a regular kitchen sponge, lightly dampen it and pass it along your carpet where the pet hairs have accumulated. The friction from the sponge, coupled with the moisture, will cause the hairs to separate from the carpet and stick to the sponge.

  • Remove pet hairs with sellotape

    Another proven method for removing pet hairs is to use sellotape or another form of weak adhesive. Simply wrap some sellotape around your hand, with the sticky part facing outward, and wipe your hand along your rug creating pressure in areas with excessive pet hair build up. The adhesive will stick to the hairs pulling them right out of your rug.

How to Remove Stains from Your Rug

remove stains from carpet

The key to keeping your rug stain free after a spill of any kind is to act quickly. If you let it sit for too long, it will become deeply embedded into the rug fibers making it much more difficult to remove the stain in the future. If you spill something on your rug the first course of action should be to scoop up any solids with a spoon and blot up as much of the liquid spill as possible with a dry towel. Do not rub the spill with your towel as this will push it deeper into the rug fibers. Once you have cleaned up the spill it is time to remove any stain that remains on the rug. Here are some cleaning methods that work for the most common spills (note: make sure to test these solutions on an inconspicuous patch of the rug for colorfastness)

  • Removing pet urine from your rug

    To remove pet urine, make a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and cold water. Using a spray bottle, spray the vinegar/water solution onto the affected area of the rug and let it sit for 10 minutes. Next, rinse the area with a solution of ½ teaspoon clear, mild dish detergent mixed with 4 cups of cold water to give it a fresh scent and finish by blotting the area dry. If the stain remains, repeat this process until it is gone.

  • Removing blood stains and other organic spills from your rug

    The most effective way to remove blood stains from your rug is to make a mixture using 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 1 cup of cold water. Dip a sponge in this mixture and dab it onto the stained area of the rug, letting the liquid sit for a few minutes. Blot the area with a dry towel and repeat until the blood is removed. Once finished, rinse the area lightly with cold water and blot dry. This method can be used with other organic spills such as coffee, wine and fruits; however, should not be used on wool rugs as it can break down the wool fibers. (Caution: Ammonia is toxic and should be used with extra care and good ventilation)

  • Removing gum from your rug

    Insert ice cubes into a ziploc bag and place it on top of the gum. Once the gum freezes, use a blunt object, such as a dull knife, to break off the frozen gum from the rug. Shatter as much of the gum as possible and finish by vacuuming the area to make sure any small remnants will be picked up before they become soft and sticky again.

  • Removing Fats and Oils from your rug

    To remove fats and oils from your rug, cover the area with cornstarch, after the excess spill has been blotted up of course. After letting the cornstarch sit for an hour, vacuum the area to remove all of the oil-absorbed cornstarch. Next, gently scrub a small amount of grease fighting dish detergent with a soft brush into the area of the spill. Finally, pour a small amount of water onto the area and blot it up right away in order to remove the dish detergent. Repeat the process until all the dish detergent is removed and be sure to let the rug dry completely.

How to Remove Odors from Your Rug

remove odors from rugs

Odors that get captured by your rug tend to remain there, oftentimes getting worse, until you decide to do something about it. A great way to remove most odors from your rug is by using baking soda. For deeply embedded odors, usually resulting from nasty spills, you may have to go one step further and use white vinegar to get the job done right. Here is the process to remove foul odors from your rug:

  • 1. Cover the smelly area of your rug with baking soda, working it into the rug fibers by lightly brushing it with a broom. Create a second layer of baking soda by covering the area a second time and let it sit for at least 24 hours.
  • 2. Remove the excess baking soda from your rug either by shaking it outside or using a broom to sweep it up.
  • 3. Once the excess baking soda is removed, use a vacuum to suck up any remaining baking soda from the rug. If the odor has disappeared, there is no more work to be done. If there is still some foul odor remaining, read on.
  • 4. For strong odors, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the vinegar onto the rug letting it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • 5. Using a clean dry cloth, blot the vinegar from the rug.
  • 6. Rinse your rug by spraying a small amount of cold water onto it followed by immediately blotting it dry.
  • 7. Let the rug air dry and repeat steps 4-7 if the odor remains.