As I was reminded the other day when I began my search for a new rug for my home, rugs are expensive (especially if, like I do, you need one that's 8x10). They also get a lot of wear and tear. Here's how to keep your rug cutting it for a long time.
- Vacuum it regularly. It might go without saying but regular vacuuming can work wonders to keep dirt from grinding into your rug and making itself at home there permanently. Once a week should do it if you live alone, more often if you have children, pets or wear shoes in the home.
- Go shoeless: If you need another reason to go shoeless in your home, keeping your rug clean is another one. Even more than other kinds of flooring, rugs and carpets hold dirt. They also act like little brushes. Good for keeping your shoes clean; not so good if your shoes are already dirty from being outside!
- Freshen your rugs with spices: Spices not only add flavor to your food, they can also keep your carpet smelling nice without the use of artificial deodorizers and chemicals. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, dried thyme, rosemary or lavender on your carpet (you can mix your spices with a little baking soda or borax for a double dosage of deodorizing), wait a few minutes and vacuum them up. Bonus: the spices will leave your vacuum cleaner smelling nice. Jackpot if you have pets: borax plus rosemary may act to keep fleas from your house and your pets (though, since it can be toxic if swallowed, keep your pets and children out of the room while you're letting the mixture sit on your rug). You can also mix borax or baking soda with a few drops of your favorite fragrance oil.
- Beat it: If your rug is small enough to move easily, you can take it outside, weather permitting, once every few weeks and beat it to loosen dirt. You don't need to use a carpet beater, a bat, broom or mop handle or old tennis racquet will work just as well.
- Take care of stains immediately: Time is your carpet's biggest enemy, even more so when it comes to stains. For a big spill, pour cornmeal on the spill, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum. Club soda can remove many acidic stains, like coffee, wine, or juice. For greasy stains, blot the stain with isopropyl alcohol (test it on a small spot first to make sure it won't bleach your carpet's fibers), then deep clean. For juice and berry stains, white vinegar works wonders. To deep clean, make your own carpet cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap or your favorite laundry detergent and 1/3 cup water in a blender, whirr until foamy. Spread the foamy mixture on the carpet. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the stain with a brush or clean rag.
- Once a year, bring out the big guns: If your home has wall to wall carpeting or your rug gets a lot of use, have your carpet professionally deep cleaned once a year by a green cleaner. Prefer to DIY? You can rent a steam cleaner (Home Depot's a good spot for this) and try it yourself. You don't even need any detergent, the hot water alone should be sufficient. If you do decide to use detergent, use no more than 3-4 tablespoons per gallon of water. If you want to go over the carpet a second time, add 1 cup of white vinegar to 2 1/2 gallons of water. This will remove any soapy residue which can act as a magnet to attract dirt.