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Rug Cleaning Advice

Most Rug Cleaning Should Not Take Place In Your Home.

You’ve bought that great looking rug at the Pottery Barn or at a specialty rug dealer, and you loved the way it made you feel, and how your friends and family raved over it, until now. It’s starting to show some spots, a little dirt, and you know you need to clean it, but how?

Types of Rug Fibers

It used to be that just about every rug you bought was either a wool rug like a Persian or oriental, or it was a cheap synthetic. Now, unless you know exactly what type of rug you own, you need to be an expert in fiber identification.

More than simple oriental rug cleaning, every fiber and rug type has it’s own special cleaning requirements. There are so many types of fibers being used to make area rugs now. Here’s a short list, I’ll probably miss a few. Many rugs are also blends of two or more fibers. You and your rug cleaner should now what the fiber type is before any sort of area rug cleaning begins.

Wool Rugs – Still the most common. A natural fiber with fire resistance, holds many dies very well. Durable, and long lasting.
Acrylic Rugs – This is what they make cheap, “fake wool” carpets and rugs out of. Home carpets made from acrylic are less common than they once were. If you walk into a home with an older carpet and it looks like water has pooled or there are “water rings” along the halls and in the rooms, the carpet is probably an acrylic carpet.
Olefin Rugs – Lots of home and commercial carpeting is made from olefin. It’s tough and durable and can even be made to feel soft to imitate wool rugs.
Polyester Rugs – In the 70’s polyester was used for all sorts of textiles. Shirts, pants, suits, carpets and rugs. It’s still used for rugs.

Persian Rug

Persian Rug

Bamboo Rugs – Take it to a professional
Hemp Rugs – Many hemp rugs can be cleaned with water, though the feel and texture of the rug may change. One company recommends using mild dish soap in a gallon of cold or cool water, mixed with 8 ounces (US fluid ounces) of white vinegar to protect the colors when cleaning.
Paper Rugs – these high maintenance rugs are supposed to be vacuumed every single day. You cannot use liquids to clean them. They cannot ever be washed! Washing a paper rug will destroy it, and paper rugs can be VERY expensive!
Seagrass Rugs– One website says “Never steam clean or wet-shampoo a natural fiber floor covering “ when talking about how to clean a sea grass rug.
Cotton Rugs– cotton rugs may not hold dyes well when wet, they also stain easily, and need special care to prevent cellulosic browning from alkaline cleaning solutions. Many wool rugs have white cotton fringes, and are woven on cotton fibers.
Nylon Rugs – This is what most residential wall to wall carpet is made from, followed closely by olefin and wool carpeting. Clean a nylon area rug as you would most home carpeting.

Beating Your Rugs

After you’ve determined what type of fiber your rug is made from, you’ll need to remove as much dry soil as possible. Maybe you can picture an old movie or story of people taking rugs outside to beat them for spring cleaning? You’ll need to know if your rug can be beaten or if some other method will work better.

Wool rugs in particular can hold several pounds of dirt, and a good beating can remove most of it. If your carpet cleaning service wants to clean your area rug while at your home, how do they plan on beating the rug? Leaving all that dirt in there means it will become mud when the rug gets wet.

Any carpet cleaning company that assures you that pre-vacuuming a rug is unnecessary because they have the latest and most powerful truck mounted carpet cleaner is lying to you. There are no truckmounts that do all the vacuuming for the carpet cleaner.

Rug Cleaning Recommendation

I highly recommend that any rug cleaning that you want done right, and done thoroughly, should be done in a wash plant. A wash plant can be a fairly simple setup at the local carpet cleaning shop, with tools for the rugs to be beaten, a wash pit, and a drying room, drying rack, or even an outside drying area in places with warmer and dryer weather.

When the rugs are washed in the rug plant, they need a thorough rinsing. A truck mounted carpet cleaner or a portable carpet cleaning unit may freshen up the appearance, but its a surface cleaning at best. The soap and soil needs to be completely removed.

If you want your wool rug, or any other area rug cleaned professionally and properly, then have it taken to a company that is setup for area rug cleaning. Otherwise you’ll have a rug that may rapidly re-soil and have a dull appearance, as well as embedded dirt and odors. It may cost a little more but you’ll be glad you did.

Updated: February 20, 2016 — 2:32 am
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