Not Sure How to Clean an Area Rug? Keep 'em Looking Brand New With These 4 Steps

Area rugs can add a lot of style and function to almost any room. Put one in your kitchen to keep your feet comfortable while you're cooking or doing the dishes; make one the focal point of your living room while amping up the coziness; or put one next to your bed so you feel the plush, soft comfort when you swing your feet onto the floor every morning. And, of course, they can help you distract from that ugly flooring in your rental. But while area rugs are useful and beautiful, they're not immune to mess, and can attract all manner of grime, crumbs, spills, stains, and dust. The good news is, because they're so portable, they're pretty easy to clean with the right know-how. Here's what you need to do.

1. Vacuum Both Sides

With carpet, you can only vacuum one side, potentially pushing dust and crumbs further into the fibers rather than sucking them up. An area rug, on the other hand, can be vacuumed more thoroughly on both sides. Vacuum the fiber side first, then flip it over and vacuum the back. If it's still dusty and you have some outdoor space, you can hang it over a railing and gently knock the remaining dust out with a broom handle.

2. Wash the Rug With Carpet Shampoo

To give your rug a good, deep clean, wash it with a carpet shampoo. First, test out the shampoo on a discreet area of the rug to check that it's safe for the color and fibers of your rug. You should let the shampoo sit for a couple of hours to be sure. When you know the shampoo is safe, dampen your rug with clean water. Then, with a sturdy brush, work the shampoo into the carpet, paying special attention to stained areas. (Note: This method is best for low-pile rugs, and DIY washing your shag rug this way isn't a good idea. Leave shag rugs or other expensive rugs to a professional to prevent damage!)

3. Rinse the Rug

Once you've worked out all of the stains and dirt from your rug with the brush and shampoo, read the shampoo instructions and, if they say so, leave the shampoo to sit for a while. After this period of time, rinse your rug thoroughly. Carpet shampoo, much like hair shampoo, can leave a residue that will leave your rugs sticky, dull, and looking dirty.

4. Let the Rug Dry

Rugs can take a long time to dry depending on their thickness and material that they're made of, so we wouldn't recommend washing your rugs right before having dozens of people over for a dinner party. To dry your rug, first wring out as much excess water as you can. Then, hang it to dry in an area where it will be protected and undisturbed, like a garage or laundry room. It may take a day or longer to dry, but it's important to be patient and let it dry completely before putting it back in place. Finally, vacuum your rug one more time to bring the tufts and fibers back to life.