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How To Keep Area Rugs Clean At Home: Care Tips & Tricks

How To Keep Area Rugs Clean At Home: Care Tips & Tricks

Area rugs are a fabulous multi-functional piece of home décor. Not only do area rugs add texture, depth and style to our living spaces, they’re quieter to walk on than hard floors, and they can improve indoor air quality by trapping dust, pollen and other air particles. Like everything in your home, rugs need to be maintained and kept clean, so let’s talk about area rug cleaning.

Area rugs take a beating from foot traffic, pets and spills. They’re prone to attracting dirt, so they need to be vacuumed regularly. They also need to be spot-cleaned when there’s a stain, and once a year they should be deep-cleaned. With so many different materials, fabrics and fibers of rugs, it’s sometimes difficult to understand how to clean each type of rug – especially if the rug is not washable – so we’re here with a primer on how to keep them all in top shape.

Safavieh Blue Area Rug

Cleaning tips for shag, wool and jute area rugs

All rugs are not created equal; various styles and lengths of fibers means that area rug cleaning process differs for each type of rug. Learn how to clean an area rug at home to bring your well-worn floor coverings back to life with these simple tasks that take little time to get done.

Cleaning Shag Area Rugs

What should you do if you own a shag area rug? Here are some at-home steps you can take.

Shag rugs need to be vacuumed once or twice a week, depending on the amount of foot traffic they get. Try to vacuum with a handheld vacuum instead of using an upright vacuum. Vacuuming by hand will get more dirt out of the rug and keep the fibers looking great. Use a carpet/rug rake attachment for vacuuming. It looks like a comb, and it vacuums the rug while grooming it with its gentle, comb-like bristles.

If your shag rug is small, take it outside and shake it out to remove dust, dirt, or any other leftover particles. Or you can use your leaf blower on it (make sure you’re outside).

How to spot-clean a shag area rug

Between the vaccuming, all the spills, stains and muddy footprints will need prompt treatment for a shag area rug to look its best. For little spills or stains, spot-cleaning works the best.

  • For spills: immediately blot the spill with a white microfiber cloth or paper towels.
  • For solids: use a dull edge like a spoon or spatula to get as much of the solid off the rug. Do not rub the stain, as that will only push the dirt deeper into the rug. However, if there is mud on the rug, let it dry. It’s easier to remove mud once it’s dried.
  • For both spills and solids:
    • Mix equal parts water and white vinegar. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the vinegar-water mixture and gently dab the stained area. Do not rub vigorously, as that will just push the stain further into the rug fibers.
    • Let the cleaned spot dry.
Person on the ground with gloves on, spot-cleaning an area rug with a yellow cloth and spray bottle

How to Clean Wool Area Rugs

On average, wool rugs need to be thoroughly cleaned every 12 to 18 months. You can get most of the cleaning advice you need from the care tags on the rug. Getting a professional to steam-clean the rug is always effective, but you can always clean it well at home, and it’s cheaper.

The best way to care for your wool rugs — aside from a professional washing — is regular vacuuming to remove the surface dust before it reaches the foundation of the rug. As often as you need to sweep your floors, you should be vacuuming your wool rugs. Be sure to use a light stick vacuum since most upright vacuums are too heavy and aggressive to use on wool rugs, which are generally quite soft.

There’s no way around it: wool requires washing. Proceed with caution. Before washing your wool rug at home, take it outside and shake or beat all the loose dirt off. Vacuum both sides of the rug, then lay it on a dry surface and hose it down. Mix up a solution of cold water and a wool wash detergent, making sure the detergent is more diluted than it would be for doing laundry.

Apply your solution to the rug bit by bit, using only a clean sponge or sponge mop. Rinse the rug afterwards, and roll it up in towels to squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible. Leave it out to dry in a shaded area, and be careful to make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight or heat, as this can fade the colors. Usually, a wool rug takes about one full day to dry completely.

Cleaning Jute Area Rugs

Jute is an extremely difficult fiber to clean, so jute rugs often require replacement after significant stains. Typically, these rugs only have a life of three to five years, so they’re not great as a long-term investment. If you do own one, we recommend cleaning up spills on it immediately after they happen.

Use cornstarch to soak up the spill, so powder can reach the crevices and grab the moisture before the jute browns or stains.  Otherwise, you may have to flip the rug over and use the other side in order to hide the stain.

Since water weakens the fibers of jute rugs, it is best not to deep-clean them. For regular cleaning, vacuum the top and bottom of the rug, as well as the floor underneath the rug.

To remove stains, dip a microfiber cloth into a mixture of warm water and a tablespoon of laundry detergent. Then blot the stain, and rinse with warm water. Blot it dry with a clean cloth, and let it air-dry. If you’re wetting down jute area rugs at home to rinse out spills, it can lead to mildew if you don’t dry it quickly, so make sure you start the drying process promptly.

Area Rug Care Tips

  • Consistently care for all your rugs by regularly vacuuming them to remove the surface dirt and debris.
  • Make sure you have a quality rug pad underneath the rug.
  • Rotate the rug on a regular basis (every six months if your area allows) to prevent uneven wear, flattening from high traffic, and dirt accumulating in certain spots.
  •  If your rug emits an odor, sprinkle baking soda on top of it. Let the baking soda sit for fifteen minutes, then vacuum it up.
  • If you have spent a large sum of money for a particular rug, we recommend a yearly professional clean, rather than cleaning the rug yourself. This will help maintain the look, feel and longevity of the rug.
  • Finally, before cleaning any rug, we always suggest checking the care labels for information.

Whether you follow a regular home cleaning regime and schedule to clean your area rugs or kitchen rug runners, or choose to clean them as they get dirty, it is important to keep in mind the tips shared here. Now you can put area rug cleaning on your spring cleaning to-do list!

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About The Author

Wanda Lopez

Wanda Lopez a blogger at heart and shares her insight on all things food, recipes, home décor, travel and more at She’s a passionate content editor and contributor for household brands such as Kraft, Publix, Ford, Best Buy and more--all while balancing work, motherhood and all things in between. An educator and avid photographer, she is in love with design, food and the outdoors.

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