Area rugs are used in high traffic areas of a home to protect underneath hardwood floors from scratches and stains. They also create warmth and comfort in a room due to their softness, beautiful colors and patterns. With time, area rugs becomes dirty and as a result, they may start giving your home a foul smell, change in appearance and even stain the underneath wooden floor.
Rugs should be cleaned on a regular basis so that they can remain beautiful, smell good and last longer. While there are various methods of cleaning rugs, using water based or liquid cleaners without protecting the underneath wood can cause serious damages.
Answering the question, how do you clean an area rug? Large area rugs or those NOT machine wash can be cleaned off-site by a professional cleaner although it can be pricey. However, you may clean an area rug inside or outside by yourself as illustrated in this guide.
What you need
- Vacuum cleaner
- Baking soda
- Mild liquid dish soap
- Soft bristled scrub brush
- Garden hose
- Bucket and sponge
Step 1: Vacuuming
Remove any items such as furniture from the rug. Thoroughly vacuum the rug on both side to remove loose dirt. The back side always accumulates dust and dirt therefore should not be neglected.
To deodorize your rug, sprinkle baking soda allover and leave it for several hours. Baking soda naturally neutralizes and absorbs odor without causing any damage to the rug or carpet. Vacuum all the baking soda and all the bad smell will be gone.
Step 2: Stain Removal
Spills and overstayed dirt can cause a stain on your rug. Stain removal involves use of water or a liquid cleaner that may affect the underneath hardwood floor. It is therefore recommended you protect the floor by placing a rug below the stain or place a waterproof barrier such as a plastic sheet underneath the entire rug.
Stain on rugs can be removed by use of any of the following:
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- Rug cleaner
- Steam cleaning
- Pressure washer/hose
Before using any cleaner or product on your rug, test on a small area on the edge to see the effect on color.
Best way to clean an Area Rug
1. Cleaning with Baking soda
Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate is a common cleaning ingredient for many homes. It is tough on odor and stains. The compound can be used in crystal form or mixed with water to form a paste before applying on the stain on your area rug. Leave the sprinkled crystals or paste for several hours to act on the stain or odor and vacuum to remove it.
2. Cleaning with a Rug Cleaner
While there are many types of rug cleaner solutions, carpet shampoo or mild dishwashing soap are commonly used ingredients for stain and grime removal. They are known to be gentle but tough on stains, dirt and grime. Before using your cleaner, read manufacturer’s instructions on how to use.
To use a liquid dishwashing soap, mix few teaspoons of the soft with warm water. Do not use hot water that can affect the color or fiber of a rug. Use a sponge to work the solution into the rug and allow it several minutes to act on the stain before you rinse with a damp piece of towel to remove the cleaner.
Allow the rug to completely dry before removing a protective barrier underneath. Any dampness of the rug may cause your hardwood floor to warp and buckle. It could also cause foul smell and growth of mold.
3. Steam cleaning a Rug
Steam cleaning an area rug is usually the last resort of removing stains and tough dirt when other methods have failed. Besides that, steam cleaning helps in disinfecting a surface by killing germs and other microorganisms using hot moisture.
Steam cleaning should be used with a lot of caution especially when dealing with a rug installed on a hardwood floor. The hot moisture can penetrate through tiny openings in the finish to reach the wood. The hardwood floor in question need to be properly sealed and protected by a waterproof barrier.
How to Steam Clean an Area Rug on Hardwood Floors
After removing all the furniture, vacuum the area rug to get rid of dust and other loose debris. Protect the hardwood floor by placing a waterproof plastic sheet under the rug. Ensure the walls are also protected by securing the sheet with masking tape.
Read instructions on how to use your purchased or rented steamer. Place water and recommended cleaner in the canister and set on to begin heating. As you concentrate on stains and dirty spots, move the machine swiftly as steam is blasted on the rug.
For the entire area rug, clean from the furthest side as you move in a pattern to ensure that no any spot is missed. After steaming the rug, about 48 hours to dry out before removing the plastic sheet and allowing it back on the floor.
4. Cleaning with a Pressure Washer/ Hose
For thorough cleaning, you may need to roll the rug and take it to the laundry area for cleaning.
- Add 1 or 2 cupful of the mild detergent or shampoo into a bucket of warm water
- Use a soft brush to scrub the cleaner solution into the rug and allow the lather to sit for few minutes
- Rinse the rug of the lather and cleaning solution using clean water from a hose or with a pressure washer.
- Use a squeegee to squeeze out excess water and let it dry completely before taking it back in.
- Vacuum or brush the rug to loosen compacted fibers once you have fitted it back on the floor
The Bottom Line
Cleaning an area rug without cleaning your hardwood floors is pointless. Dust and dirt that accumulates on a hardwood floor is likely to settle under the rug and will start affecting how it looks. Dust your wooden floors daily and schedule a thorough cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis.