So you’ve made it through the hardest part—choosing a rug out of the thousands of styles, shapes, sizes and fabrics beckoning from your internet browser. Promptly shipped, it now sits at your door, waiting eagerly to add life to your space. Whether you have a crew of toddlers and pets in the house or you’re decorating your first solo apartment, in the years ahead your new rug will likely take a beating. And that’s fine! Rugs are meant to be lived on, after all. But once you’ve chosen the right one, it’s worth knowing how to care for it. So we put together a simple guide full of rug hygiene tips that will make your investment last.
THE ROLL OUT
THE ROLL OUT
As you unbox your new rug, don’t be alarmed if it comes with a “new rug smell”. Temporary and harmless, this odor sometimes comes with rugs that are hot off the press; that is, recently produced. If it bothers you, unroll the rug in a room with good ventilation and give it a few days to air out.
Whichever style you chose, from farmhouse to vintage, your rug may have creases at first. These, too, are temporary. The rug likely traveled a ways to reach your doorstep, and like any weary traveler, it could use some stretching out. Time will loosen up wrinkles that come from being rolled up tightly. But until then, some handy tricks to speed up the process:
Gentle heat will soften the rug backing and help it lay flat. Try placing your rug in a warm place with direct sunlight.
To quickly loosen the backing, use a steam iron on its lowest setting. Always place a towel in between the iron and rug to avoid burns.
THE REVERSE ROLL
Tightly roll up your rug in the opposite way it arrived, then unroll and vacuum it.
Target a persistent wrinkle by rolling up the rug to the point of the wrinkle, then massaging it.
Once in place, a few finishing touches will help your rug look its best. Depending on the style, color, and weave, all rugs reflect light differently. So if you find your rug looks flat or washed out, rotate it. Then vacuum against the grain of the pile—this will bring the colors and detail to life.
With area rugs come stains, debris, pet hair and sippy-cup spills. We believe messes are a fact of life, which is why all Well Woven rugs are naturally stain resistant or machine washable. But we also believe in getting the best value out of your investment, which means prolonging its life with some everyday rug care and maintenance.
START AT THE DOOR
Try not to track dirt from shoes onto your rug. It works itself into the backing and grinds away at the fibers, wearing them out and breaking down the weave.
SNIP IT, DON’T PICK IT
It’s normal for a bit of your rug’s fiber to spring loose from time to time. When this happens, resist the temptation to pick at it, which can damage the weave. Just snip the fiber with a scissors.
Let’s talk about your vacuum game. Are you a hasty “let’s get this over with” haphazard sweeper, a meticulous “no dust left behind” cleaning-guru-in-another-life, or a hands-off “let the robot do its thing” kind of vacuum cleaner? No shame in your game; as long as you break out that closet-dwelling super-tool every once in a while, your rugs (and the rest of your house) will thank you.
But here’s the thing: from a super-soft shag to a delightfully intricate handmade rug, different styles require different vacuuming tactics. We don’t expect everyone to know a beater bar from a wine bar (ok, maybe you can use context clues for that one), so the Well Woven Care Team put together a quick “How To”, covering all your vacuuming needs.
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON: ROBOS VS. REGULARS VS. WATER VACS
The future is here: who needs flying cars when you can get a robot to do your chores? Those trendy oversized hockey pucks your friends rave about are mighty convenient, but they come with a few extra considerations when it comes to rug care. We’ll break it down for you.
THE LOW-DOWN ON ROBOT VACUUMS
- Does all the work for you!
- Most robot vacuums have no trouble getting dirt, dust and pet hair from indoor-outdoor rugs, flat-woven rugs, and handmade rugs.
- Since most rugs should be vacuumed every 1-2 weeks, robot vacuums can ease your busy life with scheduled cleanings.
- Most robos don’t hassle with tassels, and they can quickly become stuck on high-pile or shag rugs.
- Not all robot vacuums are created equal. Make sure to supervise its maiden voyage on your rugs to see that it’s operating correctly; check to see if it has a beater bar and take note of how aggressive it is (unless it’s fairly gentle, we’d recommend turning it off).
- These guys are small and need to be emptied often.
WHAT THE HECK IS A BEATER BAR? AND OTHER VACUUM JARGON
A beater bar is a rotating brush designed to agitate a rug’s fibers. It takes care of dirt ground deep in the pile, but can damage a rug’s construction in the process. To prolong your rug’s life, turn off the beater bar when vacuuming a rug. Most vacuums also have different height settings; these should be adjusted when going from a plush shag rug to hardwood floors to your handmade flatwoven rug.
HOW TO USE A WET-DRY VACUUM
For a deep clean, you can use a wet-dry vacuum on an indoor-outdoor or flatwoven rug (keep it away from shag and handmade styles). Just be prepared to spend a lot of time drying it.
- Prepare the room: take everything off the rug
- Remove dust, spot-treat stains
- Apply natural + eco friendly shampoo or carpet cleaner and scrub, scrub, scrub!
- Select the appropriate filter on your wet vac and set the suction level according to your rug’s texture. Vacuum until shampoo foam is completely removed.
- Hang the rug up to dry. If it’s in the sun, hang it design-side in to protect the colors from UV rays.
THE SECRETS TO SHAG
A shag rug’s high pile can be a debris magnet and requires special care. If you’ve got the space, first shake it out outside to get loose dirt out. Vacuuming at least every other week will help keep the shag fluffed up. Make sure to adjust your vacuum’s height setting to ‘high carpet’, and if you’ve got the parts, it’s actually better to use an upholstery attachment and clean the rug by hand. If your rug sees a lot of traffic, flip it over and vacuum the underside as well.
Start with a clean canister and turn off that beater bar. Vacuum your rug up and down in rows, but also side-to-side in order to get all the nooks and crannies of debris. If your vacuum leaves behind lingering pet hair, use a stiff brush to tackle that.
HOW TO HANDLE HANDMADE + NATURAL FIBER RUGS
Music to your ears: handmade rugs are pretty low-maintenance. And in fact, over-vacuuming can lead to fading and wear. We recommend once or twice a month. Go SLOWLY and gently, make sure your beater bar is OFF, and vacuum in straight lines. Skip any fringe or tassels. If your rug is jute, hanging up the rug and using a stiff fabric brush can help get rid of ground-in dirt. Just remember that these are natural fibers, so be gentle, and your rug will thank you for years.
WHEN TO CALL THE PROS
Whether it’s for a pesky stain or a thorough spring cleaning endeavor, most rugs should be periodically deep cleaned. Why? Because professionals can attack bacteria and other pollutants that lurk beyond your vacuum’s reach. Getting this done once a year will prolong your rug’s life. A Well Woven tip: Make sure to ask about the chemicals your professional is using. We always want to protect our little ones and furry friends from harsh chemicals, and fortunately there are plenty of great services that only use non-toxic methods.
- Who doesn’t love seeing fresh vacuum lines on the rug? We recommend breaking out the vacuum cleaner every 1-2 weeks (for handmade rugs, once a month will do).
- To dislodge extra dirt and dust before vacuuming, flip the rug over and hand beat the rug with soft, rapid strokes until you've covered the entire surface.
- If your rug has tassels, keep the vacuum away and instead use a brush to comb the fringe like luscious locks.
- Make sure your vacuum’s canister is empty before tackling a new room or rug. A full or half-full bag simply won’t work as well--the debris blocks the suction power.
- Don’t leave a running vacuum stationary on your rug.
- If a rug has been rolled up or folded, vacuuming it can sometimes help get rid of wrinkles. If that doesn’t work, try a steam iron or leave it in the sun (design-side in, to protect the colors and fibers) for a few days to relax.
- We only recommend using non-toxic carpet shampoo on flatwoven or indoor-outdoor rugs, and it’s crucial you allow the rug to dry completely.
SPILL & CLEANING TIPS
The WHOOPS: SPILLS, STAINS AND OTHER MINOR CATASTROPHES
We all have that friend who won’t allow anything precarious—be it a glass of wine or a fussing newborn—around a nice rug. But the reality is, life can get messy when it gets fun. Well Woven rugs are affordable, so that you don’t have to be scared of stains, and they’re all machine washable or naturally stain resistant, so that you can forget those stains ever existed. Our tips for spot cleaning:
- For thicker stuff like jelly or ketchup, first scrape a butter knife across the stain, picking up excess material without rubbing it in.
- Then blot (don’t rub—that’ll push it deeper into the fiber) the rug with a clean, absorbent cloth.
- Next, rinse with club soda, cold water, or a natural and non-toxic carpet cleaner (we like the Stain Solution at The Laundress) . If it’s a stubborn substance (alcohol, coffee, paint or urine), apply a cleaning solution. Gently blot with a cloth.
- Repeat as necessary.
MACHINE WASHABLE RUGS: AS EASY AS 1-2-3
If your rug is machine washable, just wipe up as much as you can then toss it in the wash! A few trusted tips:
- Place your rug, pattern side away from the center, into a machine with no center agitator.
- Wash in cold water on a delicate or hand-wash cycle. To maximize your rug’s life, use a natural or product-friendly non-bleach detergent.
- Air dry only--a little sunshine does wonders to speed the process up. Just be sure to hang it with the design inward (to protect the colors from UV rays) and spread it out as much as possible so moisture doesn’t bunch up in any one area.
PRO TIP: For pesky pet odors, a ½ cup of white or odorless vinegar added to your wash cycle will freshen up the rug.
Have a unique or wild stain situation? Our Rug Expert Team has seen it all—they’d be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLOOR PROTECTION - RUG PADS
OUR SECRET WEAPON: WELL WOVEN RUG PADS
What may seem like an unnecessary add-on will save you money in the long run. Just like everyday grit can cause friction and tear fibers in your rug, friction between the fabric and floor (caused by traffic and furniture) will dramatically wear your rug and floors. Rug pads prevent that wear, with the added benefit of keeping the rug from slipping and sliding around.
Getting your rug professionally cleaned every year or two will keep it looking and feeling great. But whether or not you take it to the cleaners, these seasonal habits are key:
- Rotate the rug regularly
- Avoid continuous direct sunlight
- Vacuum regularly (on both sides, with your vacuum on its highest setting and the beater bar off)
- Use a rug pad--trust us, it’s so worth it in the long run
- If washable, wash seasonally, but treat small stains locally
HOW TO HANDLE HANDMADE & NATURAL FIBER RUGS
Jute rugs are timeless, affordable and sustainable. Made with a natural plant fiber that’s extremely durable, they’re great for busy rooms. To clean a jute rug, make a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and warm water (standard rug cleaner can mess with the natural fibers). Use a clean cloth to dab the mixture onto the stain and another rag to blot it away. After cleaning, run a hairdryer over it to dry up any residual rinse water, which can stain if left. More jute tips:
- Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, which will fade the color.
- To get ground-in dirt, hang up your rug and brush it with a stiff-bristled brush.
ONE OF A KIND, HANDMADE WOOL RUGS
A wool rug is a fantastic investment: durable, warm underfoot, and a beautiful addition to any home decor. Well Woven’s ‘One of a Kind’ collection features limited selections of historic wool rugs at a great value—these will last for ages with the right rug care. Most importantly, wool should never be completely wet. When tackling a stain, blot it with a gentle wool-safe cleaner (we recommend the natural cleaning products at The Laundress). More wool tips:
- Freshen up your rug in between deep cleanings with a dry shampoo formulated for wool (just sprinkle, wait, and vacuum up).
- Shedding is normal, especially for new rugs. But try not to over-vacuum, as this will only increase rug shedding.
Outdoor rugs are made to withstand weather, potlucks, muddy dogs, and messy kids. They can be swept of debris, vacuumed of dirt, and washed off easily with a hose. But after a long rain or a thorough hose-down, hang your outdoor rug on a line to dry. They are mildew resistant, but moisture will set in if never given the chance to dry. More tips:
- Avoid strong cleaning solutions, which can break down fibers and dull colors. For stains, use a natural, eco- and product-friendly detergent and water or club soda.
- Moldy rug? Mix a solution of 1 tsp dish detergent, 1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Apply to rug. Let sit. Rinse off and hang dry.
- When an outdoor rug is not in use, make sure it’s fully dry then roll it up, cover it with a tarp, and stick it in storage.
Whether you went with a timeless vintage piece or a classic farmhouse style, your investment will last for years with the proper rug care. And the best part is, it doesn’t take fancy equipment or hours of your time. To get our updated tips, tricks, style trends and new collections (launching every month!) sign up for Well Woven’s newsletter.