How to Clean a Rug No Matter How Filthy It Is

If you haven't given your rugs a deep clean in a while, there's a good chance you should get on that right now. This applies to you especially if your rug isn't the same color as it was when you first bought it. Kids make spills, pets shed, people have accidents — basically, life happens and your rugs usually take the brunt of it. Rugs are a great way to tie a room together, but they're also a great way to trap dust, allergens and bacteria.

The process for cleaning your rug might not seem as easy as cleaning hardwood floors, so we asked Ben Hyman, CEO and cofounder of one of our favorite rug retailers, Revival, for tips on cleaning your rugs, as well as some recommended products to actually get it clean.


As Hyman tells us, "there's routine maintenance and then there’s cleaning." Hyman follows a loose schedule to make sure his rugs stay in excellent condition, resulting in fewer cleaning sessions.

Every month, Hyman suggests giving your rug a shake outdoors to remove dust, debris and dirt. If you have a vacuum or the rug is too big, give it a quick suction so you don't have to haul the rug outside. Twice a year you'll want to rotate your rug so it gets equal wear throughout, and it'll protect against walk patterns. Your yearly maintenance should include flipping over your rug to vacuum the back, then hanging it outside. "Hang your rug in the sun for a few hours when it’s hottest, and flip it over midway through, to expose both sides to direct sunlight," Hyman says. "It’s a natural method to bleach and deodorize it. Just don’t leave it out too long or the colors will fade."

How to Clean a Rug No Matter How Filthy It Is

Hyman recommends you get your rug professionally cleaned every three to five years, but he has very specific directions for whomever is doing the work: Don't steam or dry clean it, as those methods will damage the rug. Instead, opt for hand washing, which you can also attempt to do at home.

Put your rug into something big enough to hold it, like your bath tub for instance, and use a soft-bristled brush with a rug-cleaning solution (like Prochem, which has a low pH) to get the rug clean. Then, rinse until the water runs clean. Dry it in the sun, and then you're good to go.

On first thought, rug pads are seen as just a way to prevent rugs from slipping and sliding while you're walking on it. They also happen to prolong the life span of rugs. By providing space between the rug and your floor, rug pads protect your rug from making direct contact with dust and debris on the floor. Also, rug pads allow more circulation so if your rug ever gets wet, it'll dry quicker preventing mold or mildew from occurring.

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Stains are bound to happen, and it'd be overkill to wash the whole rug for one troublesome spot. If you have a pile rug, blot the stain with a cloth or paper towel if it occurred recently. Then introduce clean water to the area to help dilute the stain, and repeat this until it starts to fade.

"If the stain is persistent, resist the urge to scrub, which can damage the fibers and more easily allow the stain to penetrate, Hyman says. "You may try using a mild detergent, such as very diluted dishwashing soap, following the same blot-and-rinse procedure."

For flatweave rugs, the process for getting out stains is similar, minus the addition of clean water, because as Hyman says "adding liquid can make it harder to remove stains, and can even extend them further."

If you follow these tips for cleaning your rug, you'll have it for many years to come. Just be sure to keep up with the maintenance.