Wooden floors are back in style and the rug business is once again booming. In order to prevent toes from freezing off during the winter, soft rugs of all different textures and design – from shag to Oriental – are being bought to cover everything from the living room floor to children’s play areas. When choosing how to best care for an area rug, or any rug in a home really, advice may be conflicting or confusing. Here are some easy ideas for keeping rugs clean and beautiful for years.
Vacuum Rugs for an Easy Clean Up
Vacuuming is the easiest way to take care of rugs. By removing dirt and debris on a daily or weekly basis, depending on traffic volume, rugs can maintain their overall good look for years. Dirt is one of the biggest unseen ways a rug can be lose its color and fiber strength over time. Avoid leaving footprints on a high pile rug while vacuuming by using a tip pioneered by maids and professional cleaning crews: always start in the area farthest from the door or end point of the rug and vacuum yourself “out of the room.”
The upholstery attachment on a vacuum cleaner is perfect for rugs that have delicate trims or that are very old. When vacuuming trim, tie a pair of nylon pantyhose over the nozzle of the vacuum attachment before proceeding. The wooden or ceramic flooring underneath a rug should also be occasionally vacuumed and mopped to prevent dirt from staining or damaging it.
Shake Out Smaller Rugs
Vacuum cleaners may miss deeply ingrained dirt. Take a rug that needs deep cleaning outside and firmly shake it to help dislodge anything a vacuum may have missed. This can also help fluff matted down fibers. If a rug is oversized, drape it instead on a stair or balcony railing before shaking or beating each side. Commercially made rug beaters – sometimes called carpet beaters – can be bought online or at specialty rug store, but a sturdy, plastic coated hanger can also work when in a pinch.
Replace or Clean Rug Pads
Rug pads serve several purposes, from holding a rug in a specific spot while on slick hard wood floor to preventing damage from wear. To care for rugs pads, remove the rug to expose the pad and gently vacuum it. This will remove any hair or dirt that has migrated all the way through the rug fibers. Most companies don’t recommend washing a rug pad because it can deteriorate the product but gently blotting or spot cleaning areas where liquid stains have seeped through is recommended.
Since rug pads are so important not only in terms of comfort but also for the life of the rug itself, it’s recommended that rug owners replace the pads once a year. If a consumer is only looking to prevent rug slippage by using a pad, cutting a smaller pad into four corner pieces can be done to save money.
Deep Cleaning Methods for Area Rugs
While small rugs can be washed in the washing machine, larger rugs are trickier and require more effort to clean. The easiest at home option is to rent or purchase a carpet cleaning machine. These machines shampoo carpets and suck up the suds afterward. Pet owners should use a non-toxic shampoo formula – such as a half vinegar, half water formula – on rugs that are part of the pet zone. If possible, shampoo the rug outdoors, on a flat surface protected by paint tarps and allow to dry outdoors before replacing inside.
Spot cleaning rugs is a great option for rugs that only need deep cleaning in one area. Spray carpet cleaner on the area that needs cleaning and wait a few minutes to let it soak into the fibers. Wet a microfiber cloth with water and gently blot the cleaner and any stains up. Repeat with a clean, water soaked microfiber towel and again with a dry one. For stubborn, substance specific stains such as melted candle wax or nail polish, do a little research beforehand to choose the cleaner best suited for the job.
Professional cleaning surfaces also exist for extremely delicate rugs or wall to wall area rugs that would be too heavy to move.
A little time spent on keeping a home’s rugs clean can lead to a long life for the rugs and a cleaner home environment overall.
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