How to clean your rugs

24 Apr '12

Because we all live in the real world where dirt exists and spills happen, we’ve put together a guide to maintaining your rug, whether it’s made from wool or a natural, plant-based fibre such as jute or water hyacinth.

The first rule

Whatever your rug is made from, the most important thing is to vacuum it regularly – at least once a week. This stops dirt getting too deep into the pile (wool) or embedded into the fibres. Professional cleaning every 1 – 2 years will do wonders for your wool rugs, but steam cleaning is not recommended for natural fibres as it may shrink or expand them.

If you spill something on your rug, the golden rule is to deal with it straight away.

Natural fibres (jute, coir, water hyacinth) – stain cleaning guide

First mop up any excess liquid with a colourfast cloth or paper towel and scrape off any solids with a knife or spoon. Lightly moisten or mist the affected area with wool wash or mild detergent mixed with water and blot carefully with a clean cloth. Do not soak the rug. If the stain is stubborn, try a solution of water, vinegar and wool wash next, and blot again. For dirt or mud, wait until it dries then scrape or vacuum it off the rug. For the dreaded red wine spill, act quickly with a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water, and blot carefully with a cloth.

Wool Rugs – stain cleaning guide

The following is based on advice from Wools of New Zealand. There are a number of cleaning treatments that can be used. However, before you use any of them, do make sure you have blotted up any excess liquid spills and scraped up any solids. In the event of a very large stain, put a towel down and stand on it to firmly remove as much liquid as you can before applying any stain treatment. And remember – never rub a wet rug. Try Cavalier Bremworth Stain Remover (available at supermarkets) for dry stains, but overusing this product may fade your rug. Below are some instructions for some common spills and stains.

Wine, beer, spirits, blood, soft drinks, fruit juice, tea, coffee: Start with cold water and a toothbrush or a small scrubbing brush gently work on the stained area. If further treatment is required, use the same small  brush using a solution of one teaspoon of wool detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar in one litre of warm water.

Tomato sauce, gravy, sauce: Start with warm water and a toothbrush or a small scrubbing brush gently work on the stained area. If further treatment is required, use the same small  brush using a solution of one teaspoon of wool detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar in one litre of warm water.

Butter, chocolate, oil, texta, lip stick: First use Cavalier Bremworth Stain Remover (on dry stain) then if further treatment is required, use a small  brush using a solution of one teaspoon of wool detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar in one litre of warm water.

Hemp Rugs (Armadillo&Co)– stain cleaning guide

First mop up all excess liquid or remove solids that have spilled on the rug with a colourfast cloth or paper towel. Start with only water and a toothbrush or a small scrubbing brush gently work on the stained area. If the stained area is large, Armadillo & Co advises taking the rug outside and hosing it down. It can be left outside to dry in the summer, or hung to air dry inside.

Where water is not sufficient to clean the hemp rug, use a mild detergent, however be sure to rinse the area thoroughly, or dirt will be attracted to the detergent left in the fibres. White vinegar mixed with a mild detergent may protect dyed hemp when cleaning. A solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4 litres water or stronger, is recommended. Rinse thoroughly on both sides and make sure all soap residue has been removed before drying. Please note that naturally dyed products may fade when placed in direct sun.

For dry stains that cannot be removed with a mild detergent Armadillo & Co recommends using Host Dry Carpet Cleaner. It is an environmentally friendly dry cleaning product that works very well on natural fibre rugs and carpets.

Posted in   How ToTags  8 comments

Just wondering if you have any tips for cleaning a large rug which I am fairly sure is woollen, but not colour fast, I purchased it in Morocco several years ago and now with 2 children it’s in need of a clean, however I do know it’s not colour fast. The main colours are red, black, orange & cream/white which is where the problem starts – how do I keep the white parts white when cleaning it? Thanks in advance.

Hi Kate. Thanks for getting in touch. I think that one sounds like a job for a professional – I’d consult a carpet cleaning company or rug dealer. Our friend James Nazar of Nazar Rug Galleries in Paddington (Sydney) would be happy to help you, if you’re in Sydney. Good luck!

Dianne says:

Thanks, very timely, as I had just spilled tomato sauce on my new rug.

Patricia says:

Thank you so much for these tips. I have just had my rugs professionally cleaned and was told not to use the supermarket stain removers that work by bleaching. The residue of these also makes professional cleaning more difficult.

Thank you Patricia, that’s interesting to hear. Hope your rugs are looking fabulous!

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