Area rugs tend to pick up a great deal of dirt and grime from foot traffic. This dirt works its way into the fibers, drastically shortening the lifespan of a rug and keeping it from looking its best. Although the cleaning of a smaller rug may be as simple as tossing it into a tub of water with some vinegar and wool cleaner, larger rugs pose a bit of a challenge due to their size and construction. Many people choose to have their rugs cleaned professionally, but this can be an expensive hassle.

To keep an area rug clean and in good condition, rotate it once a year. Vacuuming should occur at least once every three months, and this should be done even more frequently if foot traffic adds more dirt to the rug than the usual settling of dust. It is important to vacuum the underside of the rug, since dust and dirt tend to work themselves through the fibers and out the other side.

Every once in a while, however, the area rug will need a good and deep clean that a vacuum simply cannot do. First, check the label for any special instructions. Every rug is woven differently and the materials and the weave may require certain precautions, such as the avoidance of certain detergents. Unlike a professional cleaner, the layperson may not be intuitively familiar with such necessary precautions.

Next, decide whether to clean the rug with water or through a dry-cleaning method.

It’s possible to dry clean an area rug at home using a carpet dry cleaning kit. These kits, available in stores, consist of a powdery substance that soaks up stains and odors. After vacuuming the rug, sprinkle the product all over the rug. Work in the substance with a clean broom or other soft-bristled brush, and let the cleaner sit for several hours. Then, vacuum the rug one more time, leaving it clean but not wet.

Alternatively, take the area rug outside and clamp it to a fence or clothesline, if it can support such weight. Using some commercially available carpet cleaner, clean the rug by hand and spray it down with a hose with sprayer nozzle. Also consider utilizing the floor mat clamps at a car wash, where a soapy spray is available straight from the nozzle. Either way, wash out the detergent and hang to dry, leaving the rug good as new.

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