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How to Clean Your Rugs

From spot touch-ups and stain treatments to full-on allover cleaning, here’s how to do it.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos / The Nest


1. Get to your stains as quickly as possible. If they have time to set, removing them will be much more difficult.
2. Never rub at stains -- always blot. Rubbing will spread the stain around and cause more permanent damage. Use a clean, dry, 100-percent cotton white (so it doesn’t bleed color onto your rug) towel to blot from the outside of the stain toward the middle. Move in straight lines, and avoid rubbing in a circle -- this can damage your rug permanently.
3. When you’ve blotted out all you can, put some stain remover on a white cotton towel, then gently blot it into the spot. (In other words, don’t pour the stain remover directly on your rug.)
4. Once you’re satisfied, it’s important to dry the rug as soon as possible. Use a fan to speed things up.

Allover Cleaning

1. Once a month, flip your rug over and vacuum the underside. You can use the beater bar or the rotating brush on your vacuum for this side.
2. When vacuuming the top/front of your rug, use the suction attachment if the rug is wool. For a synthetic rug, the beater bar/rotating brush is fine.
3. Don’t vacuum fringe or tassels -- they can get sucked into your beater bar. Just fluff them by hand, since anything else can cause damage.
4. Be very wary of carpet shampoos -- they’re okay for synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, but not for wool rugs. If you do use a shampoo, it’s essential to rinse it all out when you’re done cleaning -- otherwise the soapy residue left in the rug will attract dirt. Always test a small, hidden portion of your rug with the cleaner you plan to use before you clean the whole thing to make sure it doesn’t cause your rug to lose color.

-- Paula Kashtan