Rug Care

Rugs warm and add color, pattern, and texture to a room. You can easily change a room's look and feel from one season to another by replacing the rug. Follow these tips for cleaning various types of rugs.


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Rug care is determined by size, construction, and material.

Outlined below are care tips for several common types of area rugs. If you have a fine oriental rug or a rug with unusual materials, be sure to check the Special Cases guidelines listed on the next page.

Find basic care tips below.

Basic Care Tips

Tip #1: Storing When storing a rug (especially a heavy winter one), have it professionally cleaned and wrapped before storing in a climate-controlled area to avoid damage.

Tip #2: Care Tags When you purchase a new rug, keep the care tag intact, or file it with your household maintenance and furnishings file for later reference.

Tip #3: Large Rugs Care for large size room rugs as you would wall-to-wall carpet. Fine Oriental rugs and other unusual materials, however, require special care.

Tip #4: Small Rugs Small rugs, such as those used at entrances, are difficult to vacuum. Take them outside and shake them vigorously until dust and dirt are no longer evident. (Some cities have ordinances against this once common practice.) You can also hang rugs over a clothesline or sturdy outdoor furniture and beat them with a broom to remove dust and dirt.

Tip #5: Dry Cleaning Always consult care labels for small rugs, determining whether they should be dry-cleaned, spot-cleaned, or laundered. If a rug, even a cotton one that appears washable, is labeled dry-clean only, it may not be colorfast. Imported rugs tend to require dry cleaning; colors may bleed otherwise. Test before spot cleaning.

Tip #6: Washing When you determine a rug is washable, machine wash on delicate. To lessen the problem of long rug fringe becoming tangled and knotted in the washer, divide the fringe into several hanks, wrapping each hank with white string. Place the rug in a mesh laundry bag or zippered pillowcase and wash in cold water cold water.

Tip #7: Drying Wet Rugs Hang wet rugs over a clothes-drying rack, a slatted picnic table, or several bricks stacked on a porch, patio, or breezeway. Hanging a wet rug over a single clothesline will distort the shape of the rug as it dries. Small rugs that are made from synthetic fibers similar to carpeting can be laid to dry on a small worktable or counter that is protected by a drop cloth, old sheets, or towels.

Tip #8: Pet Concerns When pet hair accumulates in a rug, brush the rug vigorously with a stiff clothes brush or utility brush. Brush with the nap until dirt and hair cease to come out. Attack pet stains with a commercial enzymatic cleaner to help break down stain and odor.

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Many different materials and methods are used to create rugs. If you purchase a rug at an antiques show, flea market, or garage sale, find out all you can about the material composition and recommended care.

Follow the instructions below to care for some of the favorite rugs used in decorating.

Woven and Braided

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Check for stitching breaks before and after cleaning woven or braided rugs. Check labels to determine whether small rugs are washable. If a rug is washable, a small rug can be placed in a zippered pillow case or mesh laundry bag. Machine wash in cool water on a gentle cycle, rinsing thoroughly. Tumble dry on low setting.

Place large rugs on a vinyl or concrete floor or place an old blanket beneath them. Sponge commercial carpet cleaning foam over the surface and rub it in according to the product directions. Finish by rinsing or vacuuming. Dry thoroughly before replacing the rug on the floor.

Oriental Rugs

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Vacuum new handmade, hand-knotted, antique, and Oriental rugs as you would carpet and wool area rugs. Use special care with delicate vintage or antique rugs by following these guidelines.

Special Vacuuming Tip: Lay a piece of nylon screen over the rug and weight it around the edges with books or bricks. Vacuum over the screen. The dirt will be removed while the screen protects the rug from the vacuum. Alternatively, tie nylon mesh over the vacuum attachment and change the mesh frequently as dirt accumulates.

Stains: Immediately treat wine and other beverage spills with club soda; use baking soda to soak up gravy, sauces, and liquid foods. Consult an Oriental rug dealer for a more complete list of food stain removal. If the rug sustains heavy traffic, have it professionally cleaned annually; rugs in other locations can be cleaned every few years. Rug dealers may offer cleaning services or referrals.

Rotate rugs to ensure even wear; direct exposure to sun will cause fading. Be sure to find appropriate window treatments to safeguard valuable rugs from sun exposure, or install UV blocking window films.

Coir and Sisal

Rugs made from coir (coconut), sisal, rush, grass, and other natural materials tend to have an open weave, allowing dirt to sift through to the floor beneath. Vacuum frequently. Remember that water weakens the fibers. When washing stains, work quickly and dry thoroughly to extend the life of these natural rugs.

Vacuuming: - Remove the rug occasionally to vacuum the floor. - If possible, take the rug outside and gently beat it to loosen dirt trapped between the fibers. - Many of these rugs are reversible; flip rugs over each time you vacuum for even wear.

Stain Cleaning: - To clean stain or discolorations on a room-size natural fiber rug, leave the rug in place, protecting the floor beneath with a plastic drop cloth and towel. - Move small rugs to a protected counter or table to clean. - Scrub the stains with a soft brush dipped in soapy water. Rinse with clear water. - Place towel over the wet area. Blot the cleaned spot as dry as possible. - Use a portable fan or hair dryer to speed drying.

Sisal Saver Tip: Some natural fiber rugs are constructed in squares that are sewn together. Buy a few extra squares or a smaller size of the rug. If a rug square is stained, clip the threads that hold it in place, replace with a new square, and hand-stitch with heavy-duty carpet thread.

Fur and Sheepskin

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- Shake unscented talcum powder over a fur, sheepskin, and hair-on hide rug and leave for several hours. - Brush the talcum powder through the hair; then shake it out. - Repeat the process several times, depending on the length of the fur. - Dip a clean cotton cloth in lukewarm soapy water and wipe off the back. - Rinse with a cloth dipped in clean water. - Allow to dry before replacing.

Drapery Care Tips

Leather Care

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