How to Clean a Rug (and Other Essential Tips for Your New Area Rug)

Knowing how to clean your area rug and consistently care for it will ensure your rug looks as great as the day it arrives for many years to come. Read on to find out what to expect when your rug arrives and how to consistently care for your rug (as well as some tips for those messes life sometimes throws at us -- and our rugs -- along the way).

Skip to tips and advice for your new area rug.

How to Clean a Rug

Day-to-Day Care for Your Area Rug

Like any relationship the one between your home and rug will sometimes need care and maintenance.

  • Keep it Clean
    Wipe off your shoes before walking on your rug. Dirt from your soles will work into the fibers of the rug and act like sandpaper, causing shedding and lowering your rug’s life expectancy.
  • Suck it Up
    Vacuum your rug once every 1-2 weeks. This will keep the pile raised and remove worked-in dirt, extending the life of the rug. Be sure to set your vacuum height as high as it will go and to go slowly and gently, otherwise you can pull up and loosen the pile in your rug.
  • Don't Pick At It!
    Sometimes a small bit of the rug fiber will come loose, or sprout up from the backing. To solve this, cut the fiber off with sharp scissors. Don’t pull on these as this can further damage the rug.
  • Keep It Fresh
    Over time rugs will naturally become worn and faded. To prevent wear as long as possible we recommend that you use a rug pad. This may seem like an unnecessary expense at first but it will save you money in the long run. Just like grit from your shoes will cause friction in the fibers of your rug, friction between the rug and floor caused by walking will wear your rug dramatically. A rug pad puts a layer between your rug and the floor and prevents this friction. It also has the added benefit of keeping the rug from sliding on more slippery floors.
    Tip! We recommend using felt rug pads on finished wood floors. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pads can damage the finish. 
  • You can also slow wear by rotating your rug to better distribute wear and exposure to sunlight. You should ideally rotate every three to six months. 

When There's a Stain: Area Rug Cleaning After a Spill

Something has spilled on your rug. Panic sets in, as does the stain. What do you do?

  1. Blot the rug with a clean white cloth to remove excess liquid. Never rub the stain, as this will move it deeper into the fiber and make it harder to remove.
  2. Using lukewarm water -- either by itself or as a dilute mixture with dish detergent -- or rug stain remover, spot clean the rug by pouring a modest amount over the stain and let it sit for a minute. This will break down the stain into the water or cleaner. Blot with a clean white cloth. Repeat as needed.
    Tip! Fantastic and 409 cleaning products can also work to remove grease and stubborn stains.
  3. Finish cleaning by blotting any cleaner used away with a lukewarm water dampened cloth and finally by blotting with a dry cloth.
  4. If these techniques do not work, or the stain is too big for you to handle, use a rug shampooer or professional rug cleaning service.

Tips and Advice for Your New Area Rug

Unpacking Your Area Rug

Your rug comes factory-packaged, tightly rolled and sealed in easy-open plastic. Simply remove the packaging and roll out your rug.

Unrolling a New Rug

Like anyone who's made a long trip with no leg room, our rugs need to stretch and breathe a little to look their best. Rugs rolled tightly may have creases or bulges as a result. But like a leg cramp from sitting in coach, it will go away with time. In the short term you can reverse roll your rug (roll it tight the opposite of the way it came rolled) and vacuum it (don't use the beater bar when vacuuming, as this can damage your rug). Over time the rug will loosen up and those creases and bulges will disappear. Other quick tips to fix rug wrinkles:

  1. Lay the rug out in direct sunlight near an open window on a sunny day. The heat will soften the rug backing and help it to lay flat faster. 
  2. Roll the rug up to the point of the wrinkle and massage the backing with your hands. This will help loosen the backing.
  3. You can use a steam iron to further loosen the backing. Use ONLY LOW steam settings! Carefully steam using a towel in between the iron and the rug to avoid burns.

That New Rug Smell

New rugs, especially those recently produced, will sometimes have that "new rug smell." This harmless odor is from the glues used to treat the rug backing and keep the yarn strongly woven in place. It will dissipate after time. If you find yourself sensitive to the smell, open up the rug in an area with adequate ventilation. The process should last no more than a few days.

Finishing Touches: Make Your Rug Look Great

Now that your rug is laid out and rapidly dewrinkling, you're almost ready for the most fun part of getting a rug...looking at it! Well you're probably already looking at it, but we want your rug to look its best. For the best look we recommend:

  • Find its good side. All rugs, due to the way they are woven, reflect light differently depending on what side you're looking from and where light is hitting it. If your rug looks washed out or flat, try walking around or rotating it.
  • Brush its hair. Your rug doesn't need a full blowout, but running your hand and vacuuming against the grain of the pile will bring your rug's color and detail into full glory.

For more information, see our article on "How to Place a Rug."