How to Clean Area Rugs: Everything You Need to Know

Rustic rug in stylish baby bedroom with grey and vintage furniture, real photo with copy space

Area rugs can add so much to any part of your home. Whether you’re using them over existing carpet, on tile, or on wood, they look great and add some color and style to any space.

Most people tend to use area rugs in high-traffic areas, so they can get dirty and worn. The key to keeping an area rug looking great for years to come is regular cleaning.

Fortunately, cleaning area rugs is quite easy, especially once you know the following tips. After reading this informative post, you’ll know exactly how to provide your rugs with the best care and you’ll be ready to head out and pick up even more area rugs for your home.

Follow these tips and enjoy clean area rugs throughout your home.

General Area Rug Maintenance

In order to keep your area rugs looking clean and fresh, you should make the effort to vacuum them at least once a week. If your area rugs are in very high traffic areas, you may want to increase that frequency to two or three times per week. For the most part, this will keep your rugs looking great most of the time.

Area Rug Deep Cleaning

However, you’ll also need to deep clean area rugs now and then to experience the best results. You’ll want to deep clean your smaller, more manageable area rugs a few times a year, but your larger ones – those that are under pieces of furniture – can wait to be deep cleaned every year or two. In the case of the latter, you can deep clean the visible and easy to reach areas to keep them looking fresh in the meantime.

Rug Washing

The easiest way to deep clean area rugs is by throwing them in the washing machine, but this is not a wise move for the many area rugs. Although there are some rugs that are made to be washable in this way, others cannot survive a run through a home or commercial washing machine. In many cases, attempting this wouldn’t be good for your washing machine, either.

If you want to put one of your area rugs in the washing machine, check the label; if you can run it through the washing machine it should say so right on the label. However, if there’s no label, or if it doesn’t specifically say that you can put a rug in the washing machine, you might want to clean it another way to be safe.

Many small, lightweight, inexpensive rugs can be washed in the washing machine a few times successfully, though; you’ll have to consider whether or not you’re willing to take the risk of them falling apart if not. Older, heavier, expensive rugs should be cleaned in other ways if you want to keep them looking fresh, new, and intact.

If you do wash a small area rug in the washing machine, wash it on the gentle cycle and then lay it flat to air dry it.

Other Options for Deep Cleaning

In cases in which you decide against using the washing machine, you can deep clean rugs of any size in other ways as well.

One option is to take the rug outside or to a flat, dry surface and apply a little mild dish soap or rug cleaner to it. If the colors don’t run in your test area, you can use a soft bristle brush to rub the cleaner into all parts of the rug. You’ll see some suds; once you do, give the cleaner some time to work on the rug and rinse with cool, clean water.

Next, press into the rug to squeeze out the excess water and soak it up with a towel. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can spray your carpet with a hose and squeeze the water out of it by walking on it in bare feet.

Once you’ve done this to all areas of the rug that you wish to clean, lay it out to dry and let it dry completely before you return it to where it belongs. If the fibers look compacted after the rug dries, go over it with the vacuum cleaner to revitalize it.

Of course, this process won’t work well with large rugs; it would take forever to scrub a large area rug by hand and you also may have a hard time getting it in and out of the house, especially if there is furniture on top of it. In these cases, the best option is to use a carpet shampooer to do the job. If you don’t own one, you can rent one affordably from many grocery stores.

Spot Cleaning

Sometimes you might not want to clean an entire rug, but due to a spill or mud or something else, you want to clean just one part of it. To accomplish this, you can follow the deep cleaning steps above but just focus on one area.

If your spots and stains don’t come out on the first try, repeat the process until the spot disappears. Sometimes, letting the soap soak in longer can be effective. Scrubbing with a toothbrush can help you really get into small stains with some strength and focus. For stubborn stains, you might want to pick up some rug-specific stain remover, and if all else fails, call a rug cleaning company like

Enjoy Clean Area Rugs

As you can see, cleaning area rugs is relatively easy if you know how to do it. You can get ahead by staying on top of regular maintenance like vacuuming and by deep cleaning your rugs on a regular basis. If you create a schedule for yourself, you can enjoy clean area rugs in your home all the time.

However, if you encounter problems, don’t be afraid to call in the experts. A rug cleaning service can get your rugs looking top-notch in short order.

Either way – area rugs are a joy. Now that you know how to clean them, you might as well go out and pick up a few more!

If you’d like to read more great posts about your home, check out the Home & Garden section of our site.