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Area rug cleaing

How To Clean Rugs At Home 

How To Wash A Rug

Today we are going to bypass all the rug drama and talk about cleaning rugs at home. I'm a 35-year veteran rug cleaner, educator, and consultant to rug cleaners and producers abroad.

So, can you wash your rug at home?

The short answer is yes, but before watching YouTube videos, or suspicious Facebook post cleaning your rug at home has some drawbacks, considerations and limitations, so before you try, let's consider a few things, such as

  • What kind of cleaning method should I use

  • How will you dry that big, wet wool rug? 

  • What if the colors bleed 

  • What kind of detergent to use 


Dry Cleaning 

The three big names in dry rug cleaning are Host, Capture, and Arm & Hammer. These Dry-cleaning compounds are the safest to use and also the least effective cleaning products. The powder is applied to the carpet, scrubbed in with a brush given dwell time, and then vacuumed out; seems simple, right?

Only the power is never completely removed, and it has a very limited cleaning capacity.

How to Dry Clean an Oriental Carpet at Home? 

 It's important to note that true "dry cleaning" involves the use of chemical solvents and specialized equipment that are not typically available to homeowners.

However, there are methods to "dry clean," "clean without excessive moisture," or "low moisture cleaning" at home.

Here are steps to "dry clean" an Oriental carpet at home:


  1. Start by thoroughly vacuuming both sides of the rug. This removes dust and dirt particles. Ensure your vacuum is in a gentle setting without the beater bar/brush running, as this can damage the fibers.

  2. Spot Clean: If there are specific stains or spots, treat them first. Use a mild detergent mixed with water or a carpet cleaner suitable for Oriental rugs.

  3. Dab the solution onto the stain with a white cloth blot; don't scrub, then blot with a clean, damp cloth to remove. Blot dry with another cloth.

  4. Dry Powder Cleaning: Commercially available dry carpet cleaning powders. They are sprinkled onto the carpet and worked into the fibers using a soft brush. Or, use  Foam Carpet Shampoo. Use a foam carpet shampoo designed for rugs. Apply the foam to the carpet with a sponge or soft brush in a gentle circular motion.

  5. Let the cleaning product dwell and foam dry completely and vacuum thoroughly to remove the dried foam and cleaning powder.

Keep in mind low moisture and dry cleaning systems use much less water, and water is the most effective carrier for soil removal from textiles, so dry cleaning systems have limited performance.

 I know slick marketing says differently, but dry cleaning does not address heavy soils, pet stains, and odors.

Shag area rug in Living Room

Washing A Rug At Home

Washing a rug at home is possible but requires planning and some considerations, use of mild dish detergent, water, and a soft scrub brush. Rinse the rug until the water runs clear. There are some issues to be mindful of regarding color rug from unstable dyes and simply getting a now wet and heavy rug dry. 

Common Rug Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

  • Not testing for colorfastness: Rugs are made from a variety of materials and to varying quality standards. Vintage rugs may have color touched up with ink or paint to hide wear that may bleed or fade when exposed to water or cleaning solutions and dyes yes can be unstable and bleed. It's essential to test for colorfastness by wetting a small area of the rug with your cleaner of choice and blotting it with a white cloth before attempting to clean the entire rug.

  • Not vacuuming the rug before cleaning: Failing to vacuum the rug front and back to remove dry soil before cleaning makes it harder and, in some cases, impossible to get a rug clean. Be sure to vacuum the rug thoroughly, front and back, before attempting to clean it.

  • Using harsh cleaning chemicals: Strong detergents or cleaning solutions can damage the rug fibers and colors. Use a mild detergent and avoid any products that contain bleach, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals.

  • Scrubbing the rug too aggressively: Vigorous rubbing or scrubbing can damage rugs and fray fibers; instead, blot the rug gently with a clean white cloth to remove any stains or spills.

  • Using too much cleaning product and failing to rinse the rug properly. Natural fibers like wool are very absorbent and can be challenging to rinse. A failure to rinse properly causes rapid re-soiling, slows drying, and causes stiffness in a pile. More detergent isn't always better or result in better cleaning performance, washing sould tske several hours. 

  • Carefully consider how you will get your rug dry; rugs are dense and highly absorbent materials that can be hard to dry. Not drying the rug properly: Leaving the rug damp too long can cause color bleed, mold, mildew,  and odors. Be sure to dry the rug thoroughly by removing excess water and allowing it to air dry completely. Some rugs can more than triple in weight when wet. Will you move the rug to a spot to dry or dry where you washed it?

 If you're unsure how to clean your rug or if it's heavily soiled, it's best to seek professional help from a rug cleaning company specializing in Oriental and area rug cleaning. 

Area rugs drying

How To Dry A Rug ?

A soaked wet rug left wet too long is the ideal environment for color run and the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. 


Consider where and how you will get the rug dry. Your home isn't an ideal environment to dry wet rugs.  You will need air movement and the ability to exchange humid stale air for fresh dry air, if drying inside.


 Professional rug cleaning companies have specialized equipment to pull moisture from rugs fast and effectively for optimal drying like rug centrifuges. This type of technology is out of the grasp of home rug cleaning. 

However, at home use a shop vacuum or wet-dry vac simply a vacuum designed to vacuume up soilds and liquds. Remove as much water from the rug at the end of washing to speed drying. Go over the rug several times slowly.

The larger the rug, the harder it will be to remove water and get dry; my suggestion is to clean smaller, thinner, and easy-to-move rugs and work up to bigger rugs as you develop some understanding and skill. 

Even on a hot sunny day, you need air movement, not just heat, to dry your rug. So place several fans on the rug to speed drying.

Area rug cleaning seems easy from slick YouTube videos, but in reality, it is laborious, and many things can go sideways in the cleaning process from start to finish: color run shrinking, stalled drying, poor finishing, tea dyes, and ink painting of rugs. However, home cleaning might make sense in some situations and for some people. If this seems too much, just Google search a rug cleaner near me for a local rug cleaning professional.

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