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How To Clean Area Rugs

All areas rugs are unique and each one requires special care. Understanding that each is different is important to maximizing life and quality. Handmade, machine-made and tufted rugs are the three most common types of area rugs and each has its own identifying qualities. Knowing how to clean an area rug starts with recognizing what type of rug you have. And, to keep your rugs looking new, they require regular maintenance and deep cleaning.

Handmade Rug Identifiers

Handmade Rug Identifiers include: the fringe is the extension of the foundation yarns; made from natural fibers like wool, cotton, or silk; and may have handmade imperfections

How to Clean Oriental Rugs

Hand-woven or hand-knotted rugs are considered to be true “Oriental Rugs.” You can identify an oriental rug through their fringe because it will be an extension of the foundation yarns. The rug material will also be made from natural fibers like wool, cotton or silk. Also, since these rugs are handmade you’ll notice slight imperfections on the rug like misshapen side cords or uneven shape. Persian rugs and carpets are a common example of this.

Oriental rugs are usually one-of-a-kind and can be very valuable. That’s why it’s important to take proper care of them, in addition to professional deep cleaning, to ensure your investment lasts. Here are preventative measures to maintain and clean your oriental rug, so they can stay in their best condition:

  1. Rotate Every 1-2 Months - Rotating your oriental rug every one to two months can go a long way. Heavy furniture that sits atop your rug can damage fibers and high foot traffic can wear down the fibers as well. By repositioning the rug, you can even out the wear and tear to create a uniform appearance. This also helps with balancing out the adverse effects of sun exposure since sunlight can cause color fading. Regularly rotating will make fading less noticeable as it will be equally distributed and not in just single splotches on the rug.
  2. Protect From Sun Exposure - Along with rotating your rug, another surefire way to protect your oriental rug from sun exposure is with heavy curtains, window shades or shutters. This will be beneficial to block the sunlight from beating down onto the rug and help to avoid premature fading.
  3. Use Rug Padding - Pads and padding are effective at extending the life of your oriental rug. Padding that goes underneath the rug stops it from shifting and wrinkling to lessen the impact of heavy foot traffic. It’s also important to get high-quality padding because certain padding like synthetics can rub harshly against your oriental rug and cause damage.
  4. Regularly Vacuum - Dirt can play a big role in the deterioration of oriental rugs if it’s not regularly maintained. Vacuuming once a week will relieve your rug of surface-level dirt, debris, and dander that might otherwise get packed into the fibers.  It will also help prevent moths and other pests from nestling into your oriental rug. When cleaning, be sure to keep the vacuum on a low setting and don’t use your beater bar since oriental rugs are delicate.
  5. Spot Clean Immediately - No one is perfect and accidents happen. If you spill on your oriental rug, it’s important to act fast and clean up immediately before it permanently sets into the fibers. Remember to use gentle cleaning agents or water with a white cloth to lightly dab the spot. If you’re unsure how to treat a given spot, you should consult a professional cleaning service.
  6. Store Safely - If you are storing your oriental rug, it’s crucial you do so correctly. Avoid storing it where pests or moisture are prevalent as this could lead to rotting or damage. Instead, you should store in a dry environment with the rug tightly rolled up and wrapped in polyethylene as a protectant.
  7. Have Your Rug Professionally Cleaned - Despite all this, do-it-yourself methods and cleaning solutions can still be too harsh and can damage these rugs. For this, it’s best to trust the experts to deep clean your area rug. Stanley Steemer has specialized Oriental & Fine Area Rug cleaning facilities for just that. Our professional cleaning process is one of the safest and most advanced methods available. We even offer free pick up and delivery.

Machine-made Rug Identifiers

Machine made rug identifiers include: fringe will be sewn onto the rug; edges are perfectly straight and symmetrical; and its mostly constructed of synthetic fibers

How to Clean Machine Woven Area Rugs

While similar in appearance to oriental rugs, you can identify a machine-made area rug in several ways. Machine-woven area rugs will have the fringes sewn into the rug and the rug edges will be neatly straight and symmetrical. They are also constructed from synthetic fibers. Knowing this means you’re one step closer to a proper clean for your home area rug. Outside of professional cleaning, to clean a machine woven area rug, try these methods:

  1. Check the Manufacturer's Instructions - For the safest DIY clean, read the instructions provided on the rug to see the manufacturer’s approved cleaning methods. This informs you on what to use and what to not use when cleaning your machine-made rug.
  2. Brush Out Hair and Fur - Using a stiff-bristled brush is essential for lifting hair and pet fur from the rug. Doing this extra step will make it easier on your vacuum to suction out all the fur.
  3. Regularly Vacuum - For regular upkeep, you should vacuum your area rugs 2-3 times a week. As mentioned earlier, this helps prevent surface-level dirt from getting packed into the rug’s fibers.
  4. Rotate Every 1-2 Months - Rotating your machine-woven rug will even out the negative effects of heavy foot traffic as it does for oriental rugs!
  5. Make Your Own Area Rug Cleaner - Making your own area rug cleaning requires minimal effort and minimal supplies. For a gentle solution, combine ¼ teaspoon dish soap and one cup of water into a spray bottle. Then, spray an area and blot dry with a white, microfiber towel. If you have a specific stain you need cleaning, follow this guide on how to remove common household rug stains.

Tufted Rug Identifiers

Tufted rug identifiers include: rug has a cotton or linen canvas glued to the back; most tufted rugs do not have fringe, however if they do, the fringe is attached; and the pattern is not visible on the back of the rug

How to Clean Tufted Area Rugs

Machine-tufted area rugs are fairly easy to identify since most rugs of this type aren’t styled with fringe. If they do have fringe, it will be attached to the back. These rugs also have a cotton or linen canvas glued to the back of the rug. Lastly, a big identifier for tufted rugs is the pattern on the front will not be visible on the back of the rug like it is with oriental rugs. 

While making tufted rugs is faster than true oriental rugs, these rugs can still be very valuable and require special maintenance and care. They are frequently made from natural fibers and contain glues and adhesives that secure different areas of the rug together. While a professional clean is always the safest, you can also help clean and maintain your tufted rug with these tips:

  1. Check the Manufacturer's Instructions - As you do for machine-made rugs, check the rug label to see what the manufacturer recommends for cleaning your tufted rug.
  2. Machine Wash on Delicate - If the rug is machine washable and small enough, run on a delicate cycle.
  3. Air Dry - After running on a delicate cycle, air dry the rug by hanging it over a drying rack so both sides of the rug will get air. This will prevent any moisture from being left behind and stop mold or mildew from forming.
  4. Do Not Pull Yarn Tufts - If yarn tufts become loose or “sprout” on the rug, do not pull on them as a way to remove them. You should cut yarn tufts when absolutely necessary and be extremely diligent not to cut beyond the loose tufts.
  5. Rotate Every 1-2 Months - Rotating your tufted rug will help with balancing wear and tear as it does for oriental and machine-woven rugs.
  6. Test Cleaning Products Before Full Use - Some tufted rugs will require dry-cleaning or the use of commercial cleaning products. For best practice, always test a small area of the rug before using products all over.

Maintaining and cleaning area rugs is no easy task, but it is definitely needed to extend the life of your rug. Without proper care and attention, you may need to replace your area rug sooner than you’d prefer. For the safest and most effective cleaning process, we recommend having them cleaned at our Oriental & Fine Area Rug cleaning facility as shown below. This ensures your area rug is in good hands and will avoid the stress of cleaning these delicate rugs on your own. 

Find a Stanley Steemer Oriental & Fine Area Rug cleaning facility near you!

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