How to Clean Your Area Rugs

    There comes a time when every area rug needs a good cleaning. Dirt and debris get embedded within the fibers of your rugs, which can lead to your rugs looking dirty and dingy. 

    It is important to regularly vacuum your rugs at least once a week. Invest in a stick vacuum for those days where you need to quickly clean up dirt or pet hair without hauling out your main vacuum. Click here for a review of various stick vacuums. 

    But if your rugs are starting to look visibly dingy and have an odor to them even after you vacuum, it is time for a deep cleaning. While you might be tempted to send them off to a professional, you can save money by cleaning your rugs right at home. Here’s what you’ll need to do. 

    Vacuum your rug

    Even if you regularly vacuum your rug, vacuum it again before you do a deep cleaning. Vacuuming picks up any loose dirt or debris that is on the surface of your rug. Be sure to flip your rug over and vacuum both sides. You’ll be surprised by what is lurking on the side of the rug that you normally don’t see!

    Set up an outdoor work area

    Find an area outside where you can work on your rug. There is going to be dirt, water, and cleaning chemicals involved so you do not want to do this inside your house. Some people prefer to do this over pavement so that the cleaning supplies do not kill their lawn. 

    Beat your rug

    Take your rug outside, hang it up, and start beating it with a stick or a metal pole. This will loosen up any dirt that is trapped within the fibers of your rug. If you suffer from allergies, you might want to invest in a face mask for this step. 

    Prepare your cleaner

    Follow the instructions on the store-bought rug shampoo to mix the solution. You can also make your own solution using warm water and a few squirts of dish detergent. Do not use hot water, as this can damage your rug.

    Once you have your solution prepared, test it on a small area of your rug. If the solution makes the colors of your rug run, do not continue cleaning your rug with that solution. 

    Work your cleaner in

    Use a sponge or a soft cleaning brush to work your solution into the rug. There is no need to oversaturate the rug, but you should start seeing a lather. Once you’re seeing suds, allow the solution to sit on your rug for at least five minutes. 

    Rinse your rug off

    Take a hose or a bucket of water (remember not to use hot water) to rinse your rug off. Rinse your rug until you’re not seeing any signs of suds. 

    Allow your rug to dry

    Get rid of excess water by sucking it up with a wet vacuum or by sweeping it with a rubber broom. Once you’ve gotten as much water off as you can, allow your rug to dry completely. Put it in a warm spot where it’ll get plenty of sun. Remember that you will need to flip it at some point so that both sides can dry. 

    Vacuum it again

    If your rug feels stiff, there is a chance that the fibers of your rug compacted during cleaning. This can be easily fixed by running the vacuum or a soft broom over the rug. This will help loosen the fibers back up and make them feel soft again. 

    Spot clean as needed

    If you notice stains on your rugs despite your deep cleaning, you may need to do an additional spot clean. You can purchase stain remover at a store or make your own using warm water, several squirts of dish soap, and a teaspoon of vinegar.  Gently blot a stain remover into your rug (do not rub), allow the cleaner to set, and then gently blot with a clean cloth and water. Blot with a clean towel to dry. 

    Some rugs, such as Persian rugs, should only be spot cleaned. If you feel like your Persian rug needs a deep cleaning, take it to a professional. 


    Cleaning rugs right at home is easy and inexpensive. If you want to keep your rugs looking nice for years to come, take the time to regularly vacuum them and do a deep clean whenever they start looking dingy. You’ll be able to enjoy your rugs for years to come!